Quick and easy: How to install Microsoft Office (or O365) in just 4 steps!

4 Easy Steps to Deploy Office

This awesome post from Jacques Bensimon is for all the Admins out there!  Have a great 2019!

First off, this quick hit article is NOT about the differences between Microsoft Office 2019 and Office 365, perpetual license vs. subscription, or the myriad rules & regulations pertaining to the OS platforms on which each one may or may not be installed.  I start instead from the assumption that, after reading the necessary volumes of Talmudic debate and Rabbinical commentary, you’ve settled on the appropriate product for your particular situation (Windows 10 “standard”, LTSB 2016, or LTSC 2019, Windows Server 2016 or 2019, RDSH/Citrix or not, older Windows, etc. etc.) and you’re now just looking to get the damned Office bits of your choice installed on one or more machines.

You will no doubt have already read somewhere that all flavors of Office 2019 & 365 are delivered using so-called “Click-to-Run*** installation technology rather than Windows Installer (MSI) packages, fine.  But however it works under the covers, you may still have expected that some sort of setup executable and installation GUI would be involved.  Not quite!  It actually involves a single command line executable (the Office Deployment Tool) and a custom XML configuration file to drive the download and installation of a selected Office version with selected installation options.  You could drive yourself insane looking up the syntax and multiple options available to populate the XML configuration file, or you could follow the following 4 easy steps to perform your desired Office 2019 or 365 installation (on one or several machines), soup-to-nuts:

***Note:  Don’t confuse “Click-to-Run” with “ClickOnce”, the .NET abomination that performs a private runtime “installation” of an app to a location under the launching user’s %LocalAppData% before execution starts.  “Click-to-Run”, whatever its internal details and its claimed benefits over MSI in terms of speed and maintainability, is a “traditional” installation technology that places the program’s files and shortcuts in central locations accessible to all users.

Step 1:  Download the latest Office Deployment Tool (ODT) self-extracting archive from here, then run the downloaded officedeploymenttool_xxxxx-xxxxx.exe to extract its contents to the location of your choice.  This will result in one 32-bit executable, setup.exe (the actual ODT, ~5MB), and several sample XML configuration files.  Ignore the latter, you won’t need them if you follow the next step.

Step 2:  Navigate to https://config.office.com, the extensive online Office Customization Tool (OCT), and enter the details of your desired Office installation (Office products, KMS vs. MAK, languages, pinned shortcuts, optional application preferences, etc., etc.).  Pay particular attention to providing a local installation source (to which the actual Office installation files will be downloaded – no point re-downloading from Microsoft’s Office Content Delivery Network every time you perform an installation – you can use a shared network location if you’ll be installing Office on multiple machines) and make sure to select the option to remove any existing MSI-based Office products before installation (which you’d otherwise need to do “manually” beforehand).  Once you’ve entered all the details of your desired installation, use the OCT’s “Export” button to download the resulting XML configuration file (we’ll assume you named it MyOfficeSetup.xml in what follows – might as well save it to the same folder as the previously extracted setup.exe ODT).  Note that you can create multiple different configuration files corresponding to different Office installations (combinations of products, bitness, etc.) and that you can also import previously created configuration files for the purpose of modifying them or creating new variants.


Step 3:  This step, which is optional but highly recommended if you’re planning to perform more than a single Office installation, downloads the installation files once and for all to the location you specified in your XML configuration file.  At an elevated command prompt, in the folder to which you extracted the ODT in Step 1 and in which you stored the XML configuration file you created using the OCT in Step 2, execute the command

Setup.exe /download MyOfficeSetup.xml

Step 4:  Once the command in Step 3 has finished executing, you can now install your selected Office flavor (possibly including Visio, Project, and language packs, depending on the contents of your configuration file) on one or multiple machines by executing (on each target machine, elevated, manually or scripted) the command

pathSetup.exe /configure pathMyOfficeSetup.xml

Note that the path above can be a local or network location to which the ODT (setup.exe) and your XML configuration file have been copied – no need to specify the location of the Office installation files since that’s baked into your configuration file.  Depending on the choices you made in the OCT, the setup will either be entirely silent (including the removal of previous MSI-based Office products) or will display a couple of very basic progress panels.  [If you skipped Step 3, this /configure command will both download and install Office].

You’re done, and you haven’t had to even look at an XML file, much less manually edit one.


Be sure to follow @JacqBens on twitter for even more useful Microsoft insights!