Friday, September 18, 2015

Office 365 Click to Run: Delay Upgrade to Office 2016

To date, it has been tough to find info on how to do this.  Perhaps my Google-fu is waning.

Overview


Many organizations will not want to jump on the bandwagon to get onto Office 2016 when it launches on the "Business" track in October February 2016 (GA release to the public is September 22nd, next week). There are Group Policy settings available in recent vintage ADMX which control this behavior.

Background


Historical knowledge seems to be retconned out of existence, but it's a good idea to use the latest ADMX templates for Office.  Hopefully this link is permanent: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35554.

This guide will reference the May 2015 updates for the Office 2013 (office15) ADMX templates.

In the latest ADMX, there is a Machine policy under Updates, named Enable Automatic Upgrade.


The description is as follows:
This policy setting controls whether Office upgrades automatically to newer major versions.  This policy applies to Office products installed via Click-to-Run. This policy has no effect on Office products installed via Windows Installer.If you enable or do not configure this policy setting and Office automatic updates are not disabled, Office will check if a new major version upgrade is available during automatic updates. If eligible, Office will download the new major version upgrade in the background and prompt the user when it is ready for installation.If you disable this policy setting, Office will not automatically detect or download a major version upgrade.
That's the winner!

Disable this setting in GPO and you are safe to continue on Office 2013 in your Click to Run deployment.  Reminder: Office 2013 Click to Run will only be supported for 12 months, so get on the 2016 migration bandwagon already!

As noted above in the GPO description... if you are using version control elsewhere in policy, you won't be affected by this roll-out until you specify a 16.x TargetVersion in your policy.  This policy is for those in the Automatic Updates cycle already.

Recap


  1. Install the latest ADMX templates into your PolicyDefinitions folder in SYSVOL in your domain.
    • If you haven't done it since May 2015, plan on doing this step!
  2. Configure the following GPO: Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Office 2013/2016 (Machine)\Updates\Enable Automatic Upgrade.  Set it to Disabled.
  3. Scope this Machine GPO to your workstations!
  • If you are already using Target Version version control, this is not needed.  Simply keep specifying 15.x version numbers.
  • Keep an eye out for the Office 2013 Click to Run End of Life.
  • Make sure you configure the Office 2013 GPO, so your Office 2013 client doesn't upgrade to '16

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