Microsoft Intune Can Now Deploy Office 365 ProPlus Apps
Microsoft announced last week that it's now possible to use the Microsoft Intune mobile management service to make Office 365 ProPlus productivity applications available to end users.
With this kind of deployment method, IT pros configure the Office applications to be used via the Intune management interface within the Azure Portal. It's possible to add Microsoft Project and Microsoft Visio applications to the mix, too. Once the applications are added and the configurations are specified, end users will be able to install Office 365 ProPlus applications using the Intune "Company Portal." Alternatively, there's a "silent install" option that will push down the application suite to end users.
While this method of distributing Office 365 ProPlus applications (namely Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint and Word) may seem simple, Microsoft described some important caveats to note. Intune distribution only works for Office 365 ProPlus users that are also using Windows 10 "creators update" (version 1703) or later versions of the operating system.
Moreover, this method only works "for devices without an existing version of Office" installed. IT pros should "remove all versions of Office prior to enrollment," Microsoft's announcement explained regarding the new Intune deployment method. "We are working with Windows and Office teams on future enhancements to support devices with existing Office deployments," it added.
If an end user is using Office apps during the app suite installation, it possibly could result in data loss, Microsoft warned.
"If any Office apps are open when Intune installs the app suite, end users might lose data from unsaved files," Microsoft explained, in its Intune documentation.
Similarly, "data loss or corruption" could occur if Office 365 desktop apps get deployed from the Windows Store after Office 365 ProPlus applications have been deployed to devices using the Microsoft Intune method.
Microsoft also explained in the comments section of its Intune documentation that this method of distributing Office 365 ProPlus applications currently just works with the standalone version of Microsoft Intune. The hybrid approach, using the combination of Intune with System Center Configuration Manager, doesn't appear to be supported.
The ability to assign the application type as "Available" within the Azure Portal when configuring the Office 365 ProPlus application suite is currently missing. It "cannot be used yet," according to Microsoft, in comments section of its Intune documentation. Microsoft is planning to add that capability to "a future release."
Lastly, this method of distributing Office 365 ProPlus applications only seems possible for client devices that are purely under mobile device management control. It may not be available for domain-joined devices.
Microsoft also seems to be recommending that IT pros have the latest Office 2016 Deployment Tool installed to perform any needed troubleshooting steps. It's available from the Microsoft Download Center here. The main reason this tool is needed is because "Office does the installation, not Intune," according to Rob Stack of Microsoft, in the Intune documentation's comments section.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.