Monthly Archives: November 2015

Microsoft Supported Office 2016 Volume Licensing Method

Below is information provided by @pbowden, who is a software engineer for Office for Mac/iOS at Microsoft, in the MacAdmins Slack instance (@mrexchange on Twitter) regarding the supported way to license Office 2016 with a volume license.  While I recommend joining the macadmin Slack instance to participate in these conversations, it may not be feasible for everyone  Therefore I’m posting this information externally for everyone’s benefit.

It’s completely supportable to download and install the latest SKU-less build from those FWLinks like http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=525133, and simply run the Office15_all_volume_licensing.pkg to license the build for VL. [ Run `pkgutil –expand ~/Downloads/Microsoft_Office_2016_Installer.pkg ~/Desktop/Office2016VL` to expand the flat package and gain access to Office15_all_volume_licensing.pkg in ~/Desktop/Office2016VL ]

Technically, you can just run the Microsoft Office Setup Assistant.app that’s inside the .pkg, but I’d prefer that you install using the .pkg just in case there are things we need to do in the postinstall script. There are code dependencies between Office15_all_volume_licensing.pkg and Office15_all_licensing.pkg, which is why I’d prefer you to deploy the SKU-less build first as it contains Office15_all_licensing.pkg. It’s that same reason why I typically don’t like folks shoe-horning the updater package on a new machine – as the licensing package is not in the updater, and you could end up in a mess with licensing. The licensing code is fairly complex and uses various internal triggers to ‘wake up’ at various times to check that all is well. i.e. just because it might work if you hacked some packages together and tried it once or twice on your machine, it doesn’t mean to say that it’ll ​*stay*​ working after you deploy.

The role of the Microsoft Office Setup Assistant app is to collect various machine identifiers (including hardware serial number and boot disk hashes) and encodes them into /Library/Preferences/com.office.microsoft.office.licensingv2.plist …this is how we tether the license to the machine. Manually copying one of those generated plists and copying it to other machines is absolutely not supported and akin to playing with fire.
However, we ​*do*​ support you moving that plist around volumes on the ​*same*​ machine (e.g. imaging scenario).
In other words, in those times our license code wakes up to check that all is well, we’ll verify that the hashed boot disk that we retrieved when the license was created is still mounted ​*somewhere*​ on your machine, even if it’s not currently the boot disk.

Bottom line is that if you’re copying com.microsoft.office.licensingv2.plist between machines then you are not in a supportable state. The only supportable solution is to have that plist file generated on the machine you intend to use by the Microsoft Office Setup Assistant (MOSA). Up to you how you package this, but MOSA needs to be run and the plist is tethered to the current boot drive of the machine. It’s okay to change boot drives as long as that original drive stays mounted as a volume (it doesn’t have to be the boot drive)

The VL build on the VLSC is old at 15.13.4. While internally we produce full VL installers every month (in fact, it’s every day, but I digress), the VLSC folks haven’t been in a position to take our monthly updates. I’ve been working with that team this week to get their engineering processes to be more agile. The good news is that they will be taking our 15.17 December release build, so what should be a welcome refresh. I’ve also been working hard on fixing your top requests and am confident that 15.17 will be a great release for you. The VLSC folks might need to skip one or two releases after 15.17, but after that they will be in a position to take all our monthly releases.

A follow up question was asked about un-licensing to allow for the Office 365 subscription method again.

Is there a proper way to revert from a VL install backwards to a 365-license?

Yeah, just nuke that one plist we’ve been talking about and the copy of Office goes back to a sku-less state

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Office 2016 Direct Download links

Office 2016 now uses a series of FWLinks that always point to the very latest official builds. The downloads are SKU-less, which means you can use these to activate via Office 365 subscription, Volume License, or Perpetual License. These packages contain the base app, MAU and the licensing helper components.  The following links download the respective software.  While perpetually updated direct links are great to have, there is no way to determine what version it is until the full pkg is downloaded.  That’s an expensive download if you have limited bandwidth.  After the update from 15.15 to 15.16, a few links had lingering 15.15 versions still downloading.

There are 3 CDNs they are available from: Puerto Rico, Dublin, and Singapore.  For the US the Puerto Rico CDN would be quickest.

Puerto Rico CDN

Office Suite
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=525133
Word
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=525134
Excel
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=525135
Powerpoint
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=525136
Outlook
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=525137

Dublin CDN

Office Suite
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=532572
Word
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=532573
Excel
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=532574
Powerpoint
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=532575
Outlook
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=532576

Singapore CDN

Office Suite
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=532577
Word
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=532579
Excel
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=532582
Powerpoint
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=532583
Outlook
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=532584

A big thanks to @talkingmoose for encouraging @pbowden to join our Slack channel #microsoft-office and for @pbowden for providing all these juicy nuggets.  To join us on Slack, head over to http://macadmins.org to request an invite.

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Screen Sharing via Apple ID

Screen Sharing.app is a bundled application that lets you observe or control a remote computer.  Typically, the computer is already under your control and either has Screen Sharing enabled in the Sharing settings or a VNC server running.  But having a knack as a Mac whisperer doesn’t go unnoticed by family and friends.  There are times when it’d be really handy to be able to hop on a friend or family member’s computer to actually see what they’re trying to describe instead of talking thru it.  There are 3rd party services out there that can accomplish this but require downloading, installing, and configuring.  This feature just works* as long as the remote computer has an iCloud account setup on it, which at this point most do.

*Of course there are exceptions.  Firewall restrictions may not allow the traffic thru.

To start a session launch the Screen Sharing.app via Spotlight (command-space) and typing “Screen Sharing” or by navigating to /System/Library/CoreServices/Applications/Screen Sharing.app

Once it launches you’ll be presented with a field that asks for a hostname or Apple ID

hostnameorappleid

Start typing a name in your Contacts.  If you have contacts that have Apple IDs they’ll show up in blue text, similar to Messages.  It may take a few seconds for the names to be identified as Apple IDs and have the color change. If you know the Apple ID email address you can enter that directly as well.bluemeansicloud

Click the “Connect” button and the remote machine will get prompted to allow you to connect. Note, the prompt to connect will appear on all the machines that are setup with that Apple ID.

prompttoconnect

If the Apple ID of the instigating connection is in the receiver’s contacts, when “Accept” is clicked it will immediately allow Observe abilities of the remote screen.  If the Apple ID trying to connect doesn’t match a contact on the receiving machine the receiver will get this prompt.

notincontacts

Upon connection, by default the microphone is engaged so you can talk as well as see the remote screen. The microphone can be muted from menu bar extra if desired.  While connection is active the menu bar extra flashes to remind of that connection.

screensharingmenuextra

If you need to control the computer instead of just observe you can request control from the Screen Sharing window.  Once Control is asked for, the remote machine gets a prompt to allow control.

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