Many medium- and large-sized organizations rely on Microsoft® Systems Management Server (SMS) to deploy applications in the Microsoft Office System to large numbers of client computers across multiple sites. In addition to the familiar advantages of a centralized installation process, new technologies in both SMS 2003 and Office 2003 can make deploying and maintaining Office throughout your organization even more efficient and reliable, particularly for users with less than perfect network connections.
Systems Management Server 2003 gives you the option to download the source files for Office in the background, one data packet at a time. If the download process is interrupted, SMS 2003 picks up where it left off until the process is complete. If you use SMS to deploy Office 2003 from a compressed source — a copy of the Office CD on the network — then the network load is reduced even more. Not only are the source files smaller, but the compressed source also prompts Office Setup to create a local installation source on client computers.
The local installation source allows users to install new features or repair Office without being prompted for a CD or network source. And when it comes time to deploy Office updates, you can use SMS to distribute smaller binary (client) patches to users with greater confidence. If the source is required, it is already available on the local computer, and users can apply the update even when they are not connected to the network.
Because some of the default settings in SMS 2003 are optimized for clients deploying from an administrative installation point, you must make some minor adjustments in your SMS settings to get the most out of this deployment strategy.
Note You can use SMS 2003 to deploy Office 2003 from an uncompressed administrative image; however, the local installation source is not an option in that scenario.
New features in SMS 2003
Like previous versions, Systems Management Server 2003 gives you precise control over the full range of deployment tasks, including the following:
- Creating an inventory of hardware and software already deployed across the organization.
- Querying client computers for hardware and software requirements before you install Office, and targeting the installation only to computers that meet your criteria.
- Scheduling and tracking the status of application deployment.
- Pushing, or forcing, installation of Office 2003 on client computers, even when users do not have administrative rights on the local computer.
- Reporting and troubleshooting installation processes.
- SMS 2003 also includes several enhancements for supporting users who travel or work in remote locations: the Advanced Client and the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS).
Note Unlike Group Policy, SMS does not require that you have the Active Directory® directory service structure set up, and SMS allows you to deploy software applications to computers running different versions of Microsoft Windows®.
SMS 2003 includes a new client type for all computers running Windows 2000 or later: the Advanced Client. The Advanced Client is recommended for all Office 2003 deployments. Features of the Advanced Client make it especially useful for supporting users who travel from site to site or who have low bandwidth or unreliable network connections.
For example, Advanced Clients can:
- Download package source files to the local computer before running an advertised program.
- Access package source files on distribution points in sites to which they are not assigned.
- Take advantage of enhanced security.
- Take advantage of the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) in Windows.
For more information about the SMS 2003 Advanced Client, see the Windows Systems Management Server 2003 Deployment Guide.
Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS)
BITS, a Windows component, performs background file transfers and queue management. It is installed automatically with the SMS 2003 Advanced Client. SMS submits requests to BITS, and BITS automatically detects the amount of free network bandwidth and transfers the files one data packet at a time. The request remains active until all the files are transferred and SMS is notified.
Using BITS, you can download Office 2003 package source files to SMS Advanced Clients one data packet at a time in any circumstance in which the user can establish an HTTP link. The download takes place behind the scenes of whatever else the user is doing. If the process is interrupted, BITS stops and then resumes where it left off. For example, if an Office user needs the network connection to reply to e-mail, BITS releases the link and then resumes the transfer of the Office 2003 package source files when the user is finished using the network connection.
For more information about BITS, download a white paper entitled Background Intelligent Transfer Service in Windows Server 2003.
Using SMS to deploy Office with a local installation source
Whether you deploy Office 2003 from a compressed image of the CD or an uncompressed administrative image, you can use SMS 2003 with BITS to manage the process more efficiently. The basic steps are the same:
- Create a query to identify clients that meet the requirements for Office 2003.
- Run the query to create a collection of clients for the Office 2003 installation.
- Create a package for Office 2003 based on the Office 2003 package definition file (Office11.sms), which is available in the Office Resource Kit.
- Create an advertisement to advertise the package to the collection.
When you deploy Office 2003 from a compressed source to SMS 2003 Advanced Clients, however, you can capitalize on the new features of both products:
- Instead of pointing SMS to an uncompressed administrative installation point to create the package source file, specify a compressed source (an image of the Office 2003 CD copied to a network share).
You can still use Office deployment tools such as the Custom Installation Wizard to customize Office 2003 when you deploy from compressed source.
- Use BITS to drizzle down the compressed source files from the distribution points to the Advanced Client download cache on client computers. The default location of the download cache is \%WinDir%\System32\Ccm\Cache.
The compressed source is faster and easier to download — the source files for Office 2003 Professional Edition take up approximately 300 megabytes (MB) of hard disk space on the client computer. An uncompressed administrative image takes up approximately 550 MB of hard disk space.
Important The Advanced Client download cache is a temporary program download folder, and it can be cleared when the installation is complete. However, make sure the cache has sufficient free space for the Office package you are deploying. You specify the default size for the Advanced Client download cache when you install the Advanced Client on client computers.
- Use SMS to start the installation, but let Office Setup manage the source.
At the start of the installation, the Office Source Engine creates another hidden cache (\Msocache) on the local computer for the Office 2003 source files, and Windows Installer performs the actual installation from there. After the installation is complete, Windows Installer continues to use the local installation source for operations such as installing features on demand and repairing Office installations. As long as the local installation source is complete and uncorrupted, users do not need access to a network source or CD to perform these tasks.
- When you are ready to deploy Office 2003 updates, maintain your installation image at a baseline level and use the SMS 2003 Software Update Management feature to push down smaller, binary versions of Office patches to client computers.
Binary patches typically require access to an Office 2003 source, which users have in the local installation source.
For more information about installing Office from a compressed image, see Taking Advantage of a Local Installation Source.
For more information about SMS 2003 Software Update Management, see Improvements to Software Update Management in SMS 2003Improvements to Software Update Management in SMS 2003.
Customizing the installation process
In order to take advantage of BITS and the local installation source, you must fine tune some of the default settings in SMS. SMS uses package definition files (SMS files) to install software remotely. You import the Office 2003 package definition files into the SMS administrative console to create the Office package and the advertisement for the package. At that point, you can make changes to customize the installation process for the program you plan to run. (The Office 2003 package definition file includes four programs: Manual, Custom, Typical, and Uninstall.)
Toolbox The package definition files for Office 2003 are available in two files: Office11.sms (for all Office editions) and MUI11.sms (for Office MUI Packs). These package definition files are installed by default as part of an Office 2003 Editions Resource Kit (ork.exe) install. You can find this downloadable file on the Office 2003 Resource Kit Downloads page. For more infromation see Package Definition Files. Note that Microsoft Office Project 2003 uses the same package definition file as Office 2003 (Office11.sms); Microsoft Office Visio 2003 uses its own package definition file (Visio11.sms).
Note that many of the default settings in SMS assume that you are installing Office 2003 from an uncompressed administrative installation point. You can use SMS 2003 and BITS to install Office over the network in this way; however, the local installation source is not an option in that scenario. The local installation source is created only when you install from a compressed image. The following recommendations are directed at administrators who are deploying from a compressed source.
Customize the Office Setup command line
The default command line for the installation programs contained in the package definition file is
setup.exe /qb- /m Off11.mif
. You can modify this command line. For example, you can:
- Change the name of the Setup.exe file.
If you are installing from a Select CD or if you are using a custom Setup settings file, your Setup program might have another name.
- Specify a transform (MST file) by adding TRANSFORMS= to the command line.
Do not enter a path for the MST file. During the installation process, the MST file is moved from one cache to another. As long as you store your MST file in the same folder as the Office 2003 MSI file, Setup will find it.
- Specify a quiet installation by adding \qb- to the command line.
In the package definition file, the setting UserInputRequired is set to False by default for some programs; this setting overrides the command line, which means that the installation for that program runs completely silently. If you set UserInputRequired to True, however, and then add /qb- to the command line, Setup suppresses all dialog boxes but still displays simple progress indicators so users know that the installation is taking place.
To change the command line, go to the right pane of the SMS console, right-click the name of the program you want to run, and click Properties. In the Program Properties dialog box, enter the appropriate command line in the Command line box.
Customize SMS to use BITS
Although SMS does not use it by default, by far the most efficient way to download a local installation source for Office 2003 is to use BITS. In left pane of the SMS console, right-click the advertisement you created for the Office program and click Properties. On the Advanced Client tab, select the following options, which download the program, rather than running it over the network:
- Download program from distribution point
- Download program from a remote distribution point
Specify additional sources on the network
If it needs to copy any files, Windows Installer uses the local installation source first. In the unlikely event that the local installation source is deleted or corrupted, Office Setup attempts to rebuild the local installation source from the last known installation source — in this case, the Advanced Client download cache, which may or may not be there. To ensure that Windows Installer can find a source, Microsoft recommends that you take steps to ensure source resiliency for Office installations.
You can allow SMS to manage backup network sources for the Office installation. In the right pane of the SMS console, right-click the name of the program you want to run, and click Properties. On the Windows Installer tab, select the option to use the Windows Installer Source Location Manager to manage the source list for Office 2003. Windows Installer still attempts to use the local installation source first; if that fails, Windows Installer goes to the backup source and can even rebuild the local installation source from there.
You can also specify backup source locations by using Office 2003 deployment tools:
- You can specify one or more alternate source locations in an MST file, which is applied during the Office installation. On the Identify Additional Servers page of the Custom Installation Wizard, click Add and enter the path to additional source locations on the network.
- If you have already installed Office, you achieve the same result by distributing a CMW file. On the Identify Additional Servers page of the Custom Installation Wizard, click Add and enter the path to additional source locations on the network.
For more information about specifying alternate sources, see Identifying Additional Servers in the Office Resource Kit Reference.
You must have at least Systems Management Server 2.0 with Service Pack 2 to deploy Office 2003. Systems Management Server 2003 with the Advanced Client is recommended.
Client computers must be running Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 or later.
Client computers must have sufficient hard disk space for the following:
- The Advanced Client download cache (\%WinDir%\System32\Ccm\Cache), which must have enough free space for the Office package source files (approximately the size of the Office package you are deploying); this cache can be cleared after the installation is complete.
- The complete local installation source (\Msocache) for Office 2003 Professional Edition, which will not install unless the Office Source Engine detects at least 2.5 gigabytes (GB) of available hard disk space on the client computer.
After the Office installation is complete, the local installation source for Office 2003 Professional Edition requires about 300 megabytes (MB) of hard disk space beyond what is required for Office itself.
Note After Office is installed, users can delete the local installation source and lose the benefits of an always-available source. To prevent this, use the latest version of Setup.exe (version 11.0.6176.0) and set the ENFORCECACHE property in the Setup.ini file. For more information, see New Setup.exe Fine Tunes Local Caching in the Office Resource Kit.
For more information about how Office Setup works, see Setup Sequence of Events in the Office Resource Kit.
SMS inventories client computers to ensure that they meet hardware and software requirements before installing Office 2003. Detailed system requirements for all editions of Office 2003 are available in the Office 2003 Licensing and System Requirements.
For additional information about Systems Management Server, including information about upgrading to the latest version, see the Systems Management Server Web site.
In a small- or medium-sized organization, Group Policy may be the preferred tool for managing software deployment, particularly if you have already deployed the Active Directory directory service and you have clients with consistent software and hardware configurations. For more information, see Using Group Policy to Deploy Office.