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It's been a while since I have blogged in the Office 365 Technical Blog and if you haven't had a chance, check out our TV-like series of client video blogs at www.microsoft.com/garage. In this post, I want to answer a few questions we are getting frequently pertaining to the Office 365 client apps...
Let's start with the first question. A lot of people think the Office 365 ProPlus apps are radically different compared to their MSI-based brethren, but once installed they are practically indiscernible. Likewise, as almost every Beta release of software from Office to Windows and others, there isn't usually a direct "upgrade" path from a Beta (or "Preview") release to a production build. Usually this is because it isn't a mainstream supported or tested path. In the same sense, upgrading from a 4128 Preview branch build to what was a 4454 Release branch build does not work. This scenario requires uninstalling and reinstalling Office clients. We would recommend the same for Click-to-Run packages or MSI-based installation packages. In fact, even when you go from Office 2007 to Office 2010 or Office 2010 to Office 2013, the recommended approach in an IT-managed environment is to do an uninstall and reinstall of the Office client applications. This practice will lead to higher installation success rates and user configuration settings are maintained, so you end up with an "upgrade-like" outcome. Like with Office MSI-based packages, there are offscrub scripts available for Click-to-Run packages if uninstallation does not complete as planned.
I will walk through the uninstall and reinstall steps in this post and also talk about the way you would script this using the Office Deployment Tool with your application deployment tools. The first thing we need to check is which build of Office is installed. There have been three primary build numbers for Office 365 ProPlus Preview: 15.0.4128.1014, x.1019, x.1025. I tend to refer to these as "4128 builds." To identify the build you are on, you go to %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Office 15\v32.cab and open VersionDescriptor.xml. If you don't see this file or folder structure, chances are you have Office Professional Plus 2013 Preview (MSI package) installed. If you do have and open the XML, you should see something like this:
You can also go to the backstage of any of your Office apps - like Word - by clicking the File tab, then Account and you will see the version number:
I highlighted the XML above compared to the somewhat friendlier user interface because it contains a detail that determines when updates are possible, notice this line:
<RequiredClientVersion Build="15.0.4446.1000" />
That is similar to the cversion.ini in Windows we all know and love and like cversion.ini's MinClient property it gates updates only as far back as the 4446 build branch. If you are an avid Office enthusiast, you may be asking yourself, "But Jeremy, that build number is quite a bit higher than the Release to Manufacturing (RTM) build of Office Professional Plus or Standard 2013 (MSI). Those were 15.0.4420.1017, so shouldn't we be using a 15.0.4420.1017 build of Office 365 ProPlus?" Truth is with Click-to-Run and Office 365 ProPlus (plus every other non volume SKU) monthly updates will see new build numbers for each and every build. Our General Availability (GA) build branch on February 27th for Office 365 ProPlus was 4454 and now we are at 4481... and counting.
Because your Office 365 ProPlus Preview is 15.0.4128.1025 (usually), it is lower than the "RequiredClientVersion Build" property value and therefore cannot be "updated" to a 4481 build. But why exactly? The Preview builds use a different and parallel activation service with Preview tenants and accounts, the virtual file system plumbing for Click-to-Run is also quite a bit different, and as mentioned before Preview/Beta-to-RTM isn't a mainstream scenario as an upgrade path.
So as with pre-release Office versions in the past, an uninstall and reinstall is required and recommended. Let's walk through that now.
There are really three ways to uninstall the Office 365 ProPlus Preview clients; manual uninstall, removal via the Office Deployment Tool or stronger removal via Offscrub support tools. In most cases, simple uninstall via the Windows Control Panel will suffice. Going to "Control Panel\Programs\Programs and Features" manually in Windows will display Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus (and even the build number again):
If you have a few installs out there and need to automate the uninstallation of Office, you should download the Office Deployment Tool for Click-to-Run Preview. If you search the Microsoft Download Center for the "Office Deployment Tool" (ODT), you will see a Preview and a release version. Rule of thumb is if you are installing/uninstalling the Preview client, use the Preview ODT.
You will need to download the setup.exe and the configuration XML file. To uninstall Office 365 ProPlus Preview, use the Remove property in the XML. You will ultimately run:
setup.exe /configure path_to\configuration.xml
Here is an example of the XML file - I called mine remove.xml:
The Display Level="None" property will make it a silent uninstall and if you thought the Click-to-Run installation was fast, the uninstallation is much faster.
Finally, there is a nuclear option to completely remove Office Click-to-Run packages using the Microsoft Fix It tool found in KB2739501.
This tool is great if you experience any uninstallation issues, but the manual or ODT-driven uninstalls will typically be enough. Between those three options, you should have no problems uninstalling Office 365 ProPlus Preview.
Now that you are familiar with the Office Deployment Tool, it's time to use it to install Office. This is also how to get Office if you currently have a Pre-Update Office 365 tenant with rights to Office Professional Plus. You are using a pre-upgrade tenant if your site still has the orange flourishes around the top of the portal page.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Use the Office Deployment Tool release version - not the one with "Preview" in it's title.
Now on the same machine you just uninstalled Office 365 ProPlus Preview, we will install Office 365 ProPlus' latest build (which is now 15.0.4481.1005) using the release version of the ODT. To do this, you need to make small changes to the sample configuration.xml file. You can remove the SourcePath if you want to install straight from the Internet. Here is what my configuration.xml file looks like:
Then from the folder where I extracted the Office Deployment Tool, I run the following command from an Administrator Command Prompt:
Of course there are many, many more options to use with the configuration.xml file and everything is described in painstaking details on TechNet. Now all you have to do is sign in with your active Office 365 tenant credentials - and those can be a pre-upgrade tenant with Office Professional Plus rights, an M, E3, E4 or Office 365 ProPlus standalone new tenant. But there is still one more thing I want to cover...
Pre-upgrade Office 365 tenants will not expose links to end users for Office 365 ProPlus or Office for Mac 2011. If you want to use Office for Mac 2011 with Office 365 activation, you can download the DMG installation package from this link. That will download an English-US version of Office for Mac 2011 SP3 which will activate against an Office 365 tenant Pre- or Post-Upgrade for users with rights to Office Professional Plus or Office 365 ProPlus desktop apps. These will also count against the five installations per user and the interface to manage deactivation of Office apps will be available to users once pre-upgrade tenants have been upgraded.
Thanks and that's all for now. Be sure to tune in to our Garage Series Live! webcast on April 3rd 9AM PST at www.microsoft.com/garage.
See you then,
Office Deployment Team