A Comprehensive Guide for IT Administrators

As IT administrators, automating and silently installing software can help simplify large-scale deployments. Today, we’re going to focus on Microsoft Office 365 and the tools required for its automated installation: the Office Deployment Tool and Office Customization Tool.

Setting up the Office Deployment Tool

The first step involves downloading the Office Deployment Tool. Simply navigate to the Office Deployment Tool download page, hit the ‘Download’ button, and save the .exe file to a preferred location.

For example, let’s assume we’ve saved the .exe file in the ‘C:\downloads’ folder. The next step involves opening an elevated command prompt. This can be achieved by right-clicking on the command prompt and selecting ‘Run as administrator’.

Once in the command prompt, change the directory to ‘C:\downloads’. To do this, enter the following command:

cd C:\downloads

After navigating to the right directory, it’s time to extract the Office Deployment Tool files. Enter the following command:

office-deployment-tool.exe /extract:C:\downloads\Office365

Press enter and accept the Microsoft Software License Terms. The tool’s setup files will now be extracted to the ‘C:\downloads\Office365’ folder.

Configuring Office 365 with the Office Customization Tool

Next, navigate to the Office Customization Tool website to configure a custom XML file. This process involves several steps:

  1. Product selection: Select the Office Suite you wish to deploy. For Office 365, you can choose either ‘365 Apps for Enterprise‘ or ‘365 Apps for Business’. Optional products like Visio, Project, language packs, and the Office 365 Access Runtime can also be selected.
  2. Update channel and version: Choose the preferred update channel (for example, ‘Monthly Enterprise’) and the version (e.g., ‘Latest’).
  3. Apps and features: Enable or disable individual apps as per your requirements.
  4. Languages: Set the primary language and any additional languages or proofing tools needed.
  5. Installation options: Choose the installation source for Office 365. Options include the Office Content Delivery Network, a local source, or Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager. As we’re performing a silent install, ensure that ‘Show installation to user’ is disabled.
  6. Update and upgrade options: Choose the source for Office updates. You can also set options for automatic updates and uninstalling any MSI versions of Office before the upgrade.
  7. Licensing and activation: Here, you have the option to automatically accept the End User License Agreement (useful for silent installs). Choose your preferred type of product activation—user-based, shared computer, or device-based.
  8. General settings: Provide your organization name and a description for this configuration, if desired.
  9. Application preferences: Customize Office settings to your preferences. For example, you may want to disable the first run movie and opt-in wizard, adjust telemetry data collection, and others.

After configuring the settings, click ‘Finish’, review your selections, and export the configuration. Save the XML file as ‘Office365.xml’ and copy it to the ‘C:\downloads\Office365’ folder.

Downloading Installation Files and Silent Installation

Back in the elevated command prompt, change the directory to ‘C:\downloads\Office365’ and run the following command to download the installation files:

setup.exe /download Office365.xml

Note that this process can take several minutes. Once completed, you’re ready to install Office 365. Enter the following command to install Office 365 silently:

setup.exe /configure Office365.xml

This process also takes several minutes depending on the system. Once completed, you should find Microsoft Office 365 entries in the start menu, the installation directory, and the ‘Programs and Features’ section in the control panel. Open any of the applications to confirm a successful installation.


Automating and silently installing Microsoft Office 365 can significantly streamline IT administration tasks. With the Office Deployment Tool and Office Customization Tool, you can tailor the Office 365 installation to your organization’s specific needs.

For more insights and useful content, be sure to check out more resources and guides.

Paul Cobben