The links to Microsoft support articles below explain why the Office installation CDs may be required. Many factors come into play when determining whether the installation CDs are required, especially which version of Office is under consideration. Office 2000 is the least flexible while Office 2003 is the most flexible when it comes to requiring the CDs.

Office 2000: http://support.microsoft.com/?scid=kb;en-us;828450&spid=2484&sid=247
Office XP: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?kbid=828451
Office 2003: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;826712

The Office installation source is stored in the registry of the individual computer where Office is installed. That is the location where the service pack/patch looks to find the installation source, typically the CD-ROM, resulting in the dialog requesting the user to insert the installation CD. Sharing the installation CDs on the network would eliminate the user having to actually have possession of the CDs, but they would still have to respond to the dialog to select the network share unless that is where Office was originally installed.

The Microsoft support article referenced above for Office XP indicates that you can use full-file patches to update the client without requiring access to the installation source. Our testing discovered that this does not always work. Kaseya is using the Microsoft Office Detection Tool for Office patch detection and patch file locations. Sometimes, Microsoft provides links to full-file patches, but the client or binary change patches are most common.

Our testing involved setting up a gold version of Office on a test machine and then performing patch scans and subsequent patch applications until no more Office patches were reported from the patch scan. We used this approach for each version of Office. For Office 2003, we used the worse case scenario and did not use the MSOCache to store the Office installation locally. In this testing, we discovered that Office service packs always required the installation CDs. We also discovered that some patches either required the installation CDs or failed to install silently. In each case where the patch failed to install silently, it was because it could not find the installation CDs.

Since all Office 2000 service packs and patches required the installation CDs, computers with Office 2000 will always require that the user be logged in to respond to the patch dialog to install the Office CD. This cannot be changed by administrators.

For Office XP and Office 2003, all service packs and only those patches that required the installation CDs during our testing are initially configured to require the user to be logged in. This is controlled from the Command Line function under the Patch Mgmt tab. These patches have the command line set to "/INSTALL-AS-USER". You can reset these command line settings for Office patches to use the "/Q" switch. This will result in an attempt to install the Office patch silently. If the patch fails installation, reset the command line switch back to "/INSTALL-AS-USER". You must keep in mind that command line switches apply to the patch applied on all machines. Particularly in Office 2003, you might find that a silent patch installation succeeds on one computer (e.g., MSOCache used) but fails on another (e.g., MSOCache not used). To ensure that all machines successfully install a particular patch, you may have to set the command line switch to "/INSTALL-AS-USER".

For those who would like additional information on Office patching, the following might be of interest. The first one might be of particular interest for Office 2003 and the desire to eliminate the need for installation media.

Frequently asked questions about the Local Install Source feature in Office 2003
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/830168/
How to understand the repair feature in Office 2003 and in Office XP
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;822238
Description of the differences between repair and reinstall in Office XP and 2003
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;298027
Description of the differences between the repair and reinstall options in Office 2000 Setup
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;230672



Legacy Forum Name: Patch Management for Microsoft Office,
Legacy Posted By Username: jpaquette