Include Office 365 ProPlus in your Windows 10 reference image

With AutoPilot trending on twitter and in organizations around the world, we’re still creating reference images to support any existing solutions in place. The discussion whether to include Office applications in your reference image or not, is something I’m going to leave up to you to make a decision about based upon all of the information available on the internet regarding that subject. In this blog post, I’ll cover the steps necessary to include Office 365 ProPlus in your Windows 10 reference image that will be created using MDT.

What’s required

Before you continue to follow the instructions in this post, there’s a few things that needs to be in order. Make sure that you have the following configured and operational:

  • MDT Deployment Share configured for creating reference images
  • Download the Office 2016 version of the Office Deployment Tool, available here
  • Internet access to download the Office 365 ProPlus software to your network

If you’re unfamiliar with creating reference images with MDT, check out the following well documented process of getting started with creating a Windows 10 reference image from the official Microsoft documentation:

Dealing with activation

Something to point out when including Office 365 ProPlus is that you’d never allow it to activate, that’ll break things and you’d have to start over. Here’s a list of steps to avoid if you’re for any reason suspending your reference image creation process and manually configuring things:

  • Don’t open any Office applications, that will trigger a sign-in prompt
    • Even if you cancel out from that prompt, a temporary activation key is installed. It’s important that you don’t have any kind of Office 365 ProPlus product key installed in your reference image
  • Don’t sign into the Office 365 portal and install Office 365 ProPlus from the software page
  • Don’t save the Office 365 ProPlus setup file from the Office 365 portal and run it, activation occurs automatically

What would we have to do to simply avoid the product activation? Easy, we just have to run the installation silently using the following addition to our setup XML file:

<Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="True">

Deploy from the cloud or using downloaded installation files

At this point it’s time to make a choice. The choice you need to make depends on your environment, for example if the virtual machine used for the reference image creation process has access to internet or not. When using the setup engine from the Office Deployment Tool, it can operate in the following two modes:

  • Online setup of Office 365 ProPlus that downloads the content directly from the Office Content Delivery Network (CDN)
    • This method requires the usage of two configuration files, download.xml and install.xml
  • Offline setup of Office 365 ProPlus where the content has been downloaded before hand and staged
    • This method only requires the usage of one configuration file, install.xml

In this blog post we’re focusing on the offline method, as it requires a few extra steps of staging the content. If you would like to use the online method instead, skip ahead to the Import Office 365 ProPlus application in MDT section.

Prepare and download Office 365 ProPlus

We begin with extracting the Office Deployment Tool and configure a download configuration XML file. This is required if we don’t want to install Office 365 ProPlus from the cloud every time we run the reference image creation process. You can perform these actions on any workstation or server that has access to the internet.

  • Run the Office Deployment Tool that you downloaded earlier.
  • Accept the license terms and continue the installation.
  • Browse to or create a new folder where the Office Deployment Tool files will be extracted to.
  • Click OK when the action completes.

In the folder where you selected to extract Office Deployment Tool, you should now have the following two files:

  • setup.exe
  • configuration.xml

Configuration.xml is a sample file that controls the download or installation of Office 365 ProPlus. We’re not going to deep dive into all of the configuration options, but rather go with a common configuration scenario. For more detailed instructions about what’s possible to configure in the configuration.xml file, reference the official Microsoft documentation page:

Below is the configuration.xml file slightly modified from the original sample that’s included in the Office Deployment Tool. We’ll use this file to download Office 365 ProPlus into the same folder where setup.exe and configuration.xml are located. Save the below configuration file as download.xml:

  <Add OfficeClientEdition="32" Channel="Monthly">
    <Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail">
      <Language ID="en-us" />

In the above XML snippet, we’ve configured the following:

  • Use the 32-bit production version
  • Use the Monthly update channel
  • Specify the product as ProPlus

If you’re uncomfortable with manually editing these XML files, you can utilize the following tool to generate it for you using a graphical user interface:

With this new download.xml file, we can now download the Office 365 ProPlus software by simply running the following command from an elevated command prompt (browse to the folder where you extracted the Office Deployment Tool):

setup.exe /download download.xml

When setup.exe is running, it’ll create a folder named Office in the current working directory, like shown in the image below:

The download process will take a while depending on your internet connection, so leave it running until it completes.

Import Office 365 ProPlus application in MDT

Before we go ahead and create an application in MDT, we first need to create a new XML file that will be used when installing Office 365 ProPlus during the reference image creation process. This file needs to include the configuration options to silently perform the installation to avoid the automatic activation of the product. Below is an example of how the configuration file could be configured:

    <Add OfficeClientEdition="32" Channel="Monthly" OfficeMgmtCOM="TRUE">
        <Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail">
            <Language ID="en-us"/>
            <ExcludeApp ID="Groove"/>
            <ExcludeApp ID="Access"/>
            <ExcludeApp ID="Publisher"/>
    <Updates Enabled="TRUE" Channel="Monthly"/>
    <Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="TRUE"/>

In the above configuration file, we do the following:

  • Ensure that we use the same 32-bit edition that was downloaded previously
  • Use the Monthly update channel
  • Exclude Groove, Access and Publisher
  • Enable updates
  • Set the Display Level to None and accept the license terms

Save the above XML snippet as install.xml in the same location where setup.exe from the Office Deployment Tool is located. With that saved, let’s continue and import all that we’ve created as an Application in MDT.

  • Copy the following files to a temporary folder on the same volume where the Deployment Share is located, so that it easily can move the files into the Deployment Share later on.
    • setup.exe
    • install.xml
    • Office (whole folder)
  • In your Deployment Share in MDT, right click on Applications and select Import Application.
  • Select Application with source files and click Next.

  • Enter the publisher and name of the application and click Next.

  • Enter the path to where you copied the above mentioned files. Select Move the files to the deployment share instead of copying them and click Next.

  • Click Next on the Destination page.
  • Enter the following command line: setup.exe /configure install.xml

  • Click Next on the Summary page and click Finish once the process completed.

The Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus 32-bit application has now been imported into the Deployment Share.

Add application to reference image task sequence

Up until now we’ve used the Office Deployment Tool to download the required files to install Office 365 ProPlus. We’ve also configured the install.xml file that we’re using together with setup.exe to control how the product will be installed. Next up is to add the newly created application to the task sequence used for creating the reference image.

  • Open the task sequence used for creating reference images in the Deployment Share.
  • Go to the Task Sequence tab of the task sequence and locate the section where you generally install applications.
  • Add a new Install Application step and select the Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus 32-bit application:

  • Apply the changes to the task sequence and click OK.

Now the only thing that remains is to execute the task sequence and start the reference image creation process. Below is a screen from when the Office 365 ProPlus application is being installed during the reference image creation process:

With that, it’s a wrap. Office 365 ProPlus is now included in your Windows 10 reference image.

Nickolaj Andersen

Chief Technical Architect and Enterprise Mobility MVP since 2016. Nickolaj has been in the IT industry for the past 10 years specializing in Enterprise Mobility and Security, Windows devices and deployments including automation. Awarded as PowerShell Hero in 2015 by the community for his script and tools contributions. Creator of ConfigMgr Prerequisites Tool, ConfigMgr OSD FrontEnd, ConfigMgr WebService to name a few. Frequent speaker at conferences such as Microsoft Ignite, NIC Conference and IT/Dev Connections including nordic user groups.



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