Deploying Office 2007 with GPSI is not for everyone—but it’s possible

Because of some comments I’ve received, I just wanted to clarify that the Group Policy downloads I’ve mentioned before are for setting policies to enforce users’ Office configurations, not for actually deploying Office 2007. Deploying Office 2007 with Group Policy Software Installation (GPSI) is not recommended for the majority of installations. A good alternative that allows you to deploy with Group Policy is using Group Policy to assign computer startup scripts. With this method, you use the Office Customization Tool (OCT) to customize the installation, modify the Config.xml file to add languages or other customizations, create simple scripts or batch files for Office 2007 deployment, and use Group Policy to assign the startup scripts. For more information about using this method to deploy with Group Policy, see this article in the Office Resource Kit.

While previous versions of Office could deploy well with GPSI, Office 2007 deployment has limitations related to the following:

  • Ability to apply customization via MSP files (OCT)
  • Customizations have to made via Config.xml, which only provides limited functionality for this
  • GPSI uses MSI packages, and Office 2007 uses Setup.exe
  • Ability to schedule installations

For more information, see our ORK articles, Use Group Policy Software Installation to deploy the 2007 Office system and Use Group Policy to assign computer startup scripts for 2007 Office deployment.

Deploying with GPSI works better in a smaller environment. For better results in mid- to large-sized environments, consider using another enterprise deployment tool, if you have one already deployed in your organization, such as:

·         Systems Management Server (SMS)


·         System Center Essentials 2007


·         System Center Configuration Manager 2007


·         Non-Microsoft software deployment and system management software

·         Using Group Policy to assign startup scripts

GPSI deployment is still possible, however, but will require changes and testing, as described in the above articles. For organizations that don’t have GP or other deployment software and who are interested in automating their deployments, see my Office 2007 deployment scripts post.

– Andrea Weiss

Comments (13)

  1. If you have SMS, it’s a good alternative to GPSI, and has more advanced management features. Customers who don’t have SMS have been successful with creating startup scripts and using Group Policy to assign them, as shown in this ORK article:

  2. [Darren Mar-Elia is a GP MVP and runs the excellent site, — a great resource for anyone responsible for Group Policy. He and Derek Melber (also a GP MVP) contributed to the Windows Group Policy Guide for Windows Server 2003, which Derek Melber updated to become the Windows Group Policy Resource Kit: Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista. Find out more about the book at Nice work!]

    I know you weren’t looking for a shameless plug, but these are great resources!

    I should clarify that customers have had success with deploying with GPSI, and the product team has been active in trying to support these deployments. I’ve heard the negative feedback at the conferences and customer visits I’ve been to, and so has the product team. I’ll do some research and see if I can use any of the successful deployments as examples for future postings, to provide tips and lessons learned for others. We all welcome feedback, positive or negative, and do our best to respond to it (I can tell from your blog posting that I may get a lot on this one).

    There are limitations that make deploying with other methods more desirable. It could still be a viable alternative for smaller organizations. I’m putting up another post with details from one of our TechNet articles about when GPSI can be a good solution and what the limitations are.

  3. Frankly, you guys messed up a lot of people by essentially breaking the use of GPSI with Office. I can’t tell you how many people have complained to me about this. It’s as if no one on the Office product team even bothered to understand how their customers were deploying Office prior to releasing Office 2007. I wish I could say this surprised me but the Office product team seems to have a history of going their own way to the exclusion of customer needs. Its just a damn shame that so many folks are affected by it. I’m not sure how much its curtailed O2K7 deployment, but from folks I talk to, it has been an impediment.

  4. Scotte says:

    I too am quite disappointed with this change.  Office used to be the flagship GPSI product leveraging the use MSTs through the customization manager. I had high hopes that other manufacturers would follow MS’s lead and manual/scripted installs would be a thing of the past.  But, apparently, for reason still not understood, MS took a giant step backwards.

  5. Andrea-

    I appreciate your providing as much information as possible to folks on this. Anything the product team can do to improve the use of GPSI for O2K7 deployments will definitely be a plus!


  6. David Clark says:

    I like most people was flabergasted that Microsoft removed the functionality that allowed you to deploy office via GPO. Office XP/2003 were some of the easiest packages to deploy and customising them and deploying them really was a 5 minute job. We delegate OUs to an individual department providing them with RIS/WDS to deploy the OS and a set of group policies so they can build up their own workstation. Previously they could move a computer from one OU to another and software would just install/uninstall from the PC automatically, with Office 2007 this is now not possible and has broken our deployment model for over 10,000 PCs, pathetic! Like a lot of people we dont want to use SMS to deploy software as its clunky and you cant delegate its use to departments, using GPO is ideal. Please fix this, I thought MS wanted to make our lives easier not harder. This is also slowing down our uptake of Office 2007.

    David Clark, Information Systems and Services, Newcastle University, UK

  7. Paul Y says:

    Removing GPO deployment to flog SMS to more customers is a very poor standard to set. Considering that the Office team is normally irritatingly independent in not supporting the rest of the MS standards (read GPO configs), pushing SMS as the only deployment method is very poor. I know it’s one reason I don’t recommned upgrading to my corporate customers.

  8. Andrew Britton says:

    Agree with all the comments. This has caused a lot of people a lot of problems and for what? The built in facilities for software deployment are adequate for many organizations so why break them?

  9. Jeffrey B says:

    I am vastly disappointed in Microsoft move to this new deployment method.  The old method was fantastic, widely known and used why does the upgrade roll back the installation method clock to Office 97 territory.

    Also what is up with the ‘update’ method. What is the point of installing the full old version first and then wasting more time installing the service pack over the top of it.  Again this is a massive let down when compared to the Office 2000 and Office 2003 deployment methods.

    Please Microsoft, bring back integration and bring back proper GPO deployment and save us all from this freshly prepared distribution nightmare packaged in Office 2007.

  10. Steve Rochford says:

    Completely agree with Darren and David. It used to be easy to deploy Office and now it isn’t.

    I understand that GPSI might not work for large installs so I’m happy that you’ve provided a better way for them. To take that away is yet another example of the apparent arrogance of Microsoft saying "you might think you have easy ways of working but we know better; just hand over your money and you can have this wonderful software which will do the deployment for you"

    When we moved to Office 2003 we set up a GPO to deploy it, limited it to a security group and put 50 machines in that group. The next reboot, the machines got the software and we kept adding 50 machines a day until they were all done.

    I’d guess Microsoft don’t really care – we buy the software on a volume license so they’ve got our money whether we use Office 2007 or not!

    Steve Rochford, College of North West London

  11. Gordon Taylor says:

    I too am disappointed that you guys broke the easy way of installing office 2007 via GPO.  Like other people here i don’t want to use other methods to deploy office. it certainly has stop us from rolling out office 2007. We are only a small school 500 terminals a lot of laptops we would appreciate if you could fix this so office can be deployed again via a GPO again

  12. Kjell says:


    1. We don’t want, or can afford SMS.

    2. Startupscripts in GPO blows big time in this case. No control whatsoever regarding who’s got it installed.

    Why the hell change something that works? I can’t understand it. You are going to cost us a lot of manpower/money to overcome this.

    I can’t even describe how disappointed I am.

  13. Dave says:

    Guys, please bring back GPSI in the next major release of office.

    Becaause of this, we’re not doing automated upgrades to 2007 but reviewing it on a per-user basis.