Jun 27 2015

Managing Office 365 Deployment via Group Policy (GPO)

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It is possible to manage an Office 365 deployment via GPO. So you can make sure that all the users are using the same vesion. Also you can ask certain people to test a newer version. If the new version gives issues, you can easily revert back to the previous version.
In this article I will show you how this is done.

Download the Office Deployment Tool and deploy O365 via SCCM

  1. Download the Office Deployment Tool for Click-to-Run.Extract the file.
  2. Create this download xml to download the installation sources:
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    <Configuration>
    <Add SourcePath="\\demo-sccm\SCCMPackages\All Applications\MS O365 15.0.4535.1004 ENG" Version="15.0.4535.1004" OfficeClientEdition="32" >
        <Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail">
          <Language ID="en-us" />
        </Product>
    </Add>
    <Updates Enabled="FALSE" />
    <Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="TRUE" />
    <Logging Path="%temp%" />
    <Property Name="AUTOACTIVATE" Value="1" />
    </Configuration>
  3. To download run the command:
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    "%~dp0setup.exe" /download "%~dp0download.xml"
  4. Create this deploy xml to deploy the downloaded Office 365 installation files:
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    <Configuration>
    <Add OfficeClientEdition="32" >
        <Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail">
          <Language ID="en-us" />
        </Product>
    </Add>
    <Updates Enabled="FALSE" />
    <Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="TRUE" />
    <Logging Path="c:\windows\system32\logfiles" />
    <Property Name="AUTOACTIVATE" Value="1" />
    <Property Name="FORCEAPPSHUTDOWN" Value="TRUE" />
    </Configuration>
  5. In this case the application is deployed via SCCM 2012 task sequence with the command:
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    setup.exe /configure deploy.xml
  6. If Office 365 is deployed to a computer, and Word will be opened, then it is visible as follows:
    After installing the version is used as mentioned in the deployment xml.

    After installing the version is used as mentioned in the deployment xml.

Create the policy

  1. Download and extract the Office 2013 Administrative Template files (ADMX/ADML) and Office Customization Tool.
  2. Created the policy. I used WMI filtering to make sure that the policy is only applied to the machines where Office 365 has been installed.
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    SELECT * FROM win32_Directory WHERE name="c:\\Program Files\\Microsoft Office 15\\root\\office15"

    WMI Filter to make sure that this policy is only applied to machines with Office 365 installed.

    WMI Filter to make sure that this policy is only applied to machines with Office 365 installed.

  3. The policy as it has been created:
    The policy path.

    The policy path.

  4. The installation deadline. It is in the format MM/DD/YYYY TT:TT where TT:TT is the UTC time.
    The installation deadline.

    The installation deadline.

  5. The update path. If the update path is empty, then the sources will be downloaded from the internet.
    An empty update path thus the installation files will be downloaded from the internet.

    An empty update path thus the installation files will be downloaded from the internet.

  6. The target version. You can enter whatever version, even a downgrade is possible. You can find all the version numbers on Update Office 2013 or Office 365.
    The target version.

    The target version.

  7. On a computer with Office 365 installed, the policy is applied:
    The policy has been applied successfully.

    The policy has been applied successfully.

  8. You can verify it with regedit:
    Use regedit to verify the settings.

    Use regedit to verify the settings.

  9. Now Office updates are enabled:
    Policy has been enabled.

    Policy has been enabled.

  10. After a while you will be notified that there are updates. You have 15 minutes time to install them:
    A message stating that Office updates are required.

    A message stating that Office updates are required.

  11. The updates are applied. In this case a downgrade.
    Office applications are closed. The closed applications will be opened after the update.

    Office applications are closed. The closed applications will be opened after the update.


    The downgrade from version 15.0.4535.1004 to 15.0.4418.1510.

    The downgrade from version 15.0.4535.1004 to 15.0.4418.1510.

Office 365 cannot be updated anymore

  1. In some situations your Office 365 installation cannot be upgraded anymore:
    Error: This product will not be updated.

    Error: This product will not be updated.

  2. In ‘Programs and Features’ you can Repair the Office 365 installation. Please note that admin rights are needed to perform this action.
    Repair your Office 365 installation.

    Repair your Office 365 installation.

  3. Perform an online Repair:

    Perforn online repair.

    Perforn online repair.

  4. The updates are installed in the background:
    Office is installing in the background.

    Office is installing in the background.


    The latest available Office 365 installation is downloaded from the internet and applied successfully:
    Latest version has been installed.

    Latest version has been installed.

See Advanced Office 365 ProPlus Troubleshooting if you need information about logging.

Known issues

The time between the version number that has been installed and mentioned in the policy might not be bigger than 1 year. Otherwise you might see the following error message in the logfile:

ProcessKiller::PopulateResources: Filed to Get list of files to update. Exception = ErrorCodeOnly (::GetFilesToUpdate failed , Error:0x80004003)

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