Office 2010: Ready, Set, Go?

Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft Sharepoint 2010 are Microsoft’s latest and greatest Information Worker flagship products. Since it’s available and downloadable for Microsoft Partners (and everyone else with a MSDN or TechNet subscription), one of my first thoughts was to begin asking questions.

While trying to answer the question “Are we ready for Office 2010?” , already a couple of roadblocks emerged for large environments.

This process reminded me about the Windows 7 deployment process, so let’s make a checklist and see whether we’re good to go…


checkboxA business-oriented Office 2010 deployment plan

Office is more than just Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Access. While these applications certainly account for most of the popularity and use cases of Microsoft Office, other Office applications can also make your business flow more easily.

Officeclient Infopath, OneNote, Sharepoint Workspace (formerly known as Groove), Visio and Project are front-end Office applications that address specific pain points and challenges.

OfficeServer Sharepoint 2010 and Exchange 2010 are back-end Office applications and provide server-based centralized storage, versioning, workflow management and web-based client capabilities.

Make your plan with business leaders, but also include some representative end users. Put Kotter’s eight step change management model to good use!

checkboxA technology-oriented Office 2010 deployment plan

You should also have a basic understanding of the technical choices you’ll want to make in your Office 2010 deployment.

One good tip I received from Microsoft is to deploy Office 2010 x86 by default. While Office 2010 x64 sounds fantastic, you should avoid it. It’s only useful when using Office 2010 Power Pivot with millions of rows and columns. Now, how many people do you know who work with that kind of files?

Another important choice is whether you want to deploy Office in a big bang or gradually throughout the organization.

From an Active Directory point of view you’ll want the Microsoft Office 2010 Administrative Templates for the deployed architecture.


An Office 2010 compatible volume activation infrastructure

You can use Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 as Key Management Server (KMS) host to activate Office 2010 installation in a large environment. alternatively you can use Multiple Activation Keys (MAKs), but this is not a really scalable solution.  You will need to install the Microsoft Office 2010 KMS Host License Pack to activate Office 2010 installations.

checkboxAn Office 2010 compatible application delivery solution

Multiple methods for deploying Office have been used in the last couple of years:

  1. Software Installation through Group Policy (msi-based),
  2. Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V),
  3. Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (Med-V),
  4. Server-based Computing (Office through Terminal Services) and
  5. command-line installation through BDD/MDT with an Office Installation Point.

How you will be deploying Office 2010 largely depends on the way a previous version of Office is deployed right now. When the deployment method suffices, reuse it. When you want to tweak it, now’s the moment! Here’s an overview of the Office 2010 Deployment Options.

Since deployment hasn’t changed much between Office 2007 and Office 2010, you won’t find many problems on your path when you already deployed Office 2007.

checkboxOffice 2010 compatible business applications (and support)

Users with Windows and Office don’t make most companies run. Line of Business (LoB) applications are needed for business purposes most of the time. They’d better be 100% compatible too.

Whether you’re using an obscure Groupware solution with an even more obscure Outlook client plug-in, or an old version of Microsoft CRM, the integration between these components should be flawless for the business to continue. Deploying Office x86 instead of Office x64 will get you a long way in terms of compatibility.

Inventory, Communication with the vendor and testing should be completed. Testing is done in a testing environment. You do have a testing environment, right? Right. You might not have a production environment, though…

checkboxAn Office 2010 compatible search infrastructure

With Windows Vista and Windows 7 on desktops Microsoft’s emphasis on search is clear to your colleagues. However, Microsoft Office 2010 files need to be searchable for content and aren’t by default on machines not running Office 2010 (for instance File Servers). Installing the Office 2010 Filter Pack on these machines solves this challenge.

checkboxAccess to Office 2010 files when Office 2010 is not around

While Office Web Apps solve a lot of problems with its functionality to create and manipulate Office files in a web environment, in some cases this functionality isn’t worth anything. For these situations you can resort to the Office viewers.

checkboxOffice 2010 compatible Office Business Applications (OBAs)

Microsoft Office Word, Excel and Microsoft Office Access are great tools for end-users to build productivity tools. But with newer Office versions, some programming functionality has drastically changed. The business applications built in these applications (Office Business Applications, or OBAs) should also be inventoried and addressed.

The Office Migration Planning and Managee (OMDM) is a perfect tool to scan the file servers and client-pc’s for Office documents and possible problems with them, store the information in a centralized database and report on these documents and potential problems. A couple of tools are also part of this tool to assist you in addressing the problems.

Sounds like a great tool and its currently part of the Microsoft Proof of Concept (PoC) Jumpstart Kit 1.0 for Windows 7. A must-have toolkit for any Microsoft Optimized Desktop-related migration project. Don’t spend time going at it alone… use the right tools. (not everything is a nail)

checkbox Office 2010 End User Training

The most productive Office version ever… Sure, with End User Training. Without end users knowing the specifics of the Office 2010 applications, you cannot expect them to be fully productive. Then again, will you would probably come up with some good business benefits in your business deployment plan, users with the right tools will come up with even greater benefits.

checkbox Office 2010 certification

Of course your boss wants you to be a good systems administrator. Microsoft offers the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification for Office 2007 and will continue on the MOs path. Information on the MOS certification for Office 2010 and the corresponding exams is still meager at this point.


Further reading

Microsoft warns against installing 64-bit Office 2010 unless you really need it
Visio And Sharepoint 2010 Extensions For Operations Manager
Office 2010 offers choice of Open Document or Microsoft XML formats
Office 2010. SharePoint 2010 and others ready to download from TechNet & MSDN
SharePoint 2010 RTM and Office 2010 RTM now available on MSDN and TechNet
Microsoft Office 2010 RTM Available via MSDN for Download
fice 2010 RTM’s – coming soon to the download areas

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