Updating Office XP Clients from a Patched Administrative Image

If you have already updated your Office XP administrative installation point, then the most efficient patching strategy may be to continue to update the administrative image and recache and reinstall Office on client computers. This option works best in organizations with strong, centralized control over software deployment — for example, organizations that use a deployment tool such as Systems Management Server or Tivoli to manage software deployment.

 Note   The Office Resource Kit has published new and improved information for updating client installations. For more information about patching strategies, see Strategies for Updating Office XP Installations in the Office Admin Update Center.

Requirements for this patching strategy include the following:

  • Sufficient network bandwidth

Your network must be able to handle recaching and reinstalling Office on all users' computers every time the administrative image is patched. Users also need fast and reliable access to the source on the network.

  • Reliable update processes

Updating client computers from a patched administrative source works well only when you can impose a consistent update process throughout your organization and ensure that Office is recached and reinstalled promptly on users' computers each time the administrative installation point is patched.

One significant drawback of this patching strategy is the risk that clients will delay updating their computers from the patched administrative image and end up out-of-sync with the source. Operations that rely on the source — such as install on demand or detect and repair — fail because the client does not recognize the updated administrative image, which has a different product version in the Office MSI file.

If you are staging your upgrades over a period of time, you may need to maintain two administrative installation points during the process:

  • The original share to serve as a source for clients who have not yet upgraded.

Until they upgrade, some clients may need access to the original share for install on demand, automatic feature repair, and other services.

  • An updated share from which clients can upgrade to the updated version.

If you need to create administrative installation points in multiple locations, you can copy the folder hierarchy and files from one administrative installation point to additional servers.

What causes synchronization problems?

To understand why users' computers fall out of sync with the source, you must first look at how the source is used by client computers on the network. When a user installs Office from an administrative installation point, the user's computer caches a package (MSI file) that contains information about the location and version of the source files. Later, a user may perform certain operations that require the source files from the administrative image. Some examples of these are:

  • Detect and repair. If files on the client computer get corrupted or deleted, the Office product repairs itself by downloading the original files from the administrative source.
  • Install on first use. If configured by the administrator, Office programs can be advertised on the user's computer, but not actually installed until the first time a user tries to use them. At this point, Office downloads the appropriate files from the administrative image.

These scenarios work correctly if the client computer and the administrative installation point have the same product version in the MSI file. When client computers are synchronized after an update to an administrative image, the MSI files stay in sync and all features work as expected.

If there is a delay in updating the client computers, however, the client computers have a different product version in the MSI file, and problems may result. For example, if an out-of-date client computer tries to access files on a patched administrative image, the client does not recognize the source because the product versions in the MSI files do not match.

Updating an administrative installation point

When you update an administrative image, Windows Installer must perform a recache and reinstallation of the original version of Office. This process replaces the previously cached MSI file and overwrites any old files with the newer versions. By installing complete files, as opposed to patched files, the administrative update can correctly replace any files on the server that have been modified with Microsoft quick fix engineering (QFE) updates.

To patch an administrative installation point, you first extract the MSP file from the full-file version of the software update. Then you run Windows Installer with options to apply the patch to the administrative installation point. The update instructs Windows Installer to add, update, or remove files in the administrative image.

 Important    Prior to Office XP SP3, double-clicking the EXE file for an administrative update automatically extracted the MSP file. This behavior has changed. Instead of double-clicking the EXE file to extract the MSP file — which will begin installation of the patch — you extract the patch and apply it to the administrative image by using a command line.

To apply an update to an Office administrative installation point

  1. Download the self-extracting executable file (EXE file) for the update from Microsoft Download Center and save it in a folder on your computer.
  2. Extract the MSP file from the EXE file by running the following command line:
[path\name of EXE file] /c /t:[location for extracted MSP file]
  1. Connect to the server share for your administrative installation point.

You must have write access to the administrative installation point on the server and the appropriate privileges to carry out the task.

 Note   Before you update an administrative installation point, make sure that no users are using the share. If a file on the share is in use during the upgrade process, a newer version of that file is not copied to the installation point.

  1. On the Start menu, click Run, and then type the command line for Windows Installer with the appropriate options for your installation. Use the following syntax:
[start] msiexec /p [path\name of update MSP file] 
/a [path\name of MSI file] SHORTFILENAMES=TRUE /qb 
/l* [path\name of log file]

If an update contains multiple MSP files, you will need to run the command line separately for each MSP file that you apply to the administrative installation point — you cannot reference multiple MSP files on the same command line. The following table describes the command-line options.

Command-line option Description
[path\name of EXE file] Path and file name of the downloadable update file
/c Extracts the MSP files from the EXE file without installing them.
/t:[location for extracted MSP file] Folder in which to extract the MSP file from the EXE file. If you do not specify a location, you are prompted for a target folder.
[start] Required only for Windows 98 systems where Msiexec is not directly in the path.
Msiexec Executable file name for Windows Installer.
/p Enables Windows Installer to apply an update to an existing installation.
[path\name of update MSP file] Path and file name of the MSP file for the update.
/a Enables Windows Installer to perform an administrative installation of a product on a network share.
[path\name of MSI file] Path and file name of the Windows Installer package for your original administrative image.
SHORTFILENAMES=TRUE Directs Windows Installer to create all file names and folders with MS-DOS compatible file names. Required when you run Windows Installer from the command line.
/qb Sets the user interface to the basic level (simple progress and error handling).
/l* Turns on logging and sets a path for the log file. The * flag causes the switch to log all information.
[path\name of log file] Path and file name of the Windows Installer log file.

Updating client computers from an administrative installation point

After you update your administrative installation point, you must recache and reinstall Office on existing client computers that use the administrative image. Any new client installations from the administrative installation point will automatically receive the updated version of Office.

To update an existing client installation from an administrative installation point, run the following command line on the client computer:

[start] msiexec /i [path to 
updated .msi file on the administrative 
image] REINSTALL=[list of 
features] REINSTALLMODE=vomu

You can run this command line by creating a logon script, distributing it as a batch file, deploying it by using Systems Management Server, or using other means according to your practice. The options for this command line are described in the following table.

Command-line option Description
[start] Required only for Windows 98 systems where Msiexec is not directly in the path.
Msiexec Executable file name for Windows Installer.
/i Enables Windows Installer to apply an update to an existing installation.
[path to updated MSI file on the administrative image] Path and file name of the Microsoft Installer (.msi) file on the administrative installation point.
REINSTALL=[list of features] Specifies whether you want to reinstall specific features or reinstall all applications on the administrative image. The default REINSTALL=all reinstalls all applications and features in the updated package. See the Knowledge Base article associated with the patch for specific features to reinstall.
REINSTALLMODE=vomu Triggers the recache and reinstallation on the client computer.

Customizing Office XP while deploying a product update

If you want to modify your existing installations at the same time that you deploy a product update, you carry out the two actions separately. For example, to make changes such as adding applications or changing the installation states of existing Office features, you should first deploy the update, and then proceed with the changes.

To make changes to an existing installation, you can run Office Setup in maintenance mode or take advantage of the Custom Maintenance Wizard to change installation states either before or after an update. For more information about the Custom Maintenance Wizard, see see Changing Feature Installation States.

You cannot redeploy a transform (MST file) when you update an existing installation of Office. A transform can only be used to configure Office during the initial installation. If you try to apply a transform against existing installations, the transform is ignored and the existing settings are maintained.

Using Group Policy to apply an administrative update

If your administrative installation point and all of your client computers are running Microsoft Windows 2000 or later, you can use Group Policy software installation to manage the deployment of an administrative update.

 Note   Be sure to test all software updates in a controlled setting before modifying your administrative installation point or deploying the update throughout your organization.

To deploy a QFE fix or update under Windows 2000

  1. Apply the updates (MSP files) to the original Office administrative installation point.

You must run the command line separately for each MSP file that you apply to the administrative installation point; you cannot reference multiple MSP files on the same command line.

  1. Open the Software Installation snap-in within the Group Policy Object (GPO) that you are using to manage the existing Office installation.
  2. In the Details pane, right-click the Office package, point to All Tasks, and click Redeploy application.

The next time the Group Policy Object is applied to the designated users or computers, the updated files are copied to their computers.

 Note   You can redeploy a package only if it is being managed by Group Policy — that is, only if you originally installed it by using IntelliMirror software installation and maintenance or if you brought it into a managed state under Windows 2000.

Related links

In a managed environment, Microsoft recommends that you block users' access to Office updates on Office Online. By setting a single registry subkey or policy, you can prevent users from downloading client patches on their own yet still allow them to take advantage of all the other resources on Office Online. For more information, see Blocking Users' Access to Office Update.

The strategies for applying updates to Office XP and Office 2003 Multilingual User Interface Packs are identical to those for updating the core Office XP and Office 2003 installation. For more information, see Distributing Multilingual User Interface Pack Updates in the Microsoft Office 2003 Resource Kit.