Controlling Office365 ProPlus channels during Installation with Intune

Standard

A couple of weeks ago Microsoft added a new app type in Intune. With this new App type we can deploy Office365 ProPlus very easy to our MDM Managed workstations. My colleague Peter van der Woude has written a great blogpost about how you can configure this new App type and how this works for the admin and the user. You can find his blogpost here. With this blogpost I want to focus on controlling the Office365 channels with this new app type. I’ve multiple customers where we want to configure and have control over the Office365 ProPlus update channels during the installation of Office365 ProPlus.

Before we dive into the Intune configuration lets focus on the Office365 ProPlus channels we have and which we can configure to through Intune:

Update Channel Configurable by Intune Feature Updates Security Updates Non-Security Updates
Current Channel Yes Monthly Monthly Monthly
Deferred Channel Yes Every 4 months Monthly Every 4 months
First Release of Deferred Channel Yes Every 4 months Monthly Every 4 months

On the Microsoft documentation site the following image is presented to show how the different channels are working during a year:

As you can see the current channel release is going first to the First Release of Deferred Channel (Each 4 months). After 4 months this release becomes the Deferred Channel release. During the other months both Deferred channels only receive security updates.

Note: The update channel information will be change in the coming months. Microsoft has announced in this blogpost that the channels will be aligned with the Windows 10 channels. More information can be found here.

But based on the current options lets take a look at the following scenarios:

  1. What will happen to the channel configuration when a deployment is configured to an existing Office365 ProPlus installation not deployed by the new Intune App Type.
  2. What will happen when a user want to switch between 2 channels by getting assigned to a other Office365 Intune App Type deployment;

Scenario 1:

For this scenario I’ve deployed a Windows 10 1703 VM with Office365 ProPlus installed and configured to Current Channel:

I’ve created a Office365 ProPlus Suite App Type which is configured to install the deferred channel of Office365 ProPlus:

In this scenario I’ve configured both Outlook and Onedrive and opened Word with a new document. Now lets wait what will happen when the installation starts. After a policy refresh I received the following error:

MDM ConfigurationManager: Command failure status. Configuration Source ID: (30A3750F-C327-45F7-8EF8-CADECA584A96), Enrollment Name: (MDMDeviceWithAAD), Provider Name: (Office), Command Type: (Execute), CSP URI: (./Vendor/MSFT/Office/Installation/b40da6b6-a4aa-4a02-8042-0df8751b303c/Install), Result: (The system cannot find the file specified.).

And within Intune the following status was delivered:

When looking into the registry the following entry was added:

I checked the status number on this link but unfortunately this status was not documented yet. After checking with Microsoft the status(error) number is saying ‘cannot continue because an application is opened’. After closing Word the installation should be able to continue but the installation is not triggered again, so nothing happened. At this moment I’ve no information on how to re-trigger the installation again so lets take a look to an installation on a client with no open Office365 applications. After receiving the policy the following key was created:

meaning the installation is in progress. After some time (15 minutes) the status was changed to the following value:

meaning the installation was successful:

I also tested the above steps on an Insider Preview build (16257). On this build I noticed only one difference, the (default) value inside the OfficeCSP key is Binary but REG_SZ (string):

Now lets take a look into scenario 2. I removed my test user from the group assigned to the Office365 Deferred Deployment and added the user to the group assigned to the Current Channel deployment. After waiting for a couple of minutes the new policy arrived at my clients and another installation is added to the OfficeCSP:

Strange to see that the value of the new installation also on the Creator’s Update VM is presented as REG_SZ (String) and not as Binary. After a couple of minutes the installation ended successfully and the client was migrated to Current Channel:

and

Conclusion:
Based on all my test I must say that this new app type is really great and a big improvement in deploying Office365 ProPlus through Microsoft Intune. When you don’t have an installed base of Office365 ProPlus this is the way-to-go for installing the Office365 ProPlus. If you’ve an installed base then it’s difficult to use this new app type at this moment because of the fact that installations will not be retried when they are failing. At the Intune documentation page a note is made that this app type is not working with existing installations. Based on my test it’s working with existing installations but it fails when the installation cannot completes on the first run.

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