Category Archives: office2016

What’s New? New “What’s New” Office 2016 Suppression Key

Updated:
• Notification that one setting can suppress What’s New for the entire Office suite
• Changed to reflect new 15.34 key to suppress What’s New dialogs by a boolean
• Update to OneNote now using the same OUIWhatsNewShonItemIds key instead of its own ONWhatsNewShownItemIds key

My previous post, Not much, what’s new with you?, showed how to suppress the “What’s New” banners on updated software versions of the Office 2016 Suite.  While it worked, it _was_ work to get the specific preference key value to block the latest banner from appearing.  Due to the nature of how the values were dynamically created at build time it wasn’t known what those values were until the software was downloaded, installed, launched, then examine the preference file for the new value of OUIWhatsNewLastShownLink.  Blah.

Our good friends at Microsoft recognized the madness and worked on a way to make the suppression easier and more predictable for us admins.  As of version 15.32 there is a new key that takes an array of ints that can be added to the mobileconfig profile —  OUIWhatsNewShownItemIds.  The previous key OUIWhatsNewLastShownLink is still needed to suppress the What’s New dialogs prior to 15.32.

Good News, Bad News, Better News, Best News, and Bestest News

The Good News is that the values of OUIWhatsNewShownItemIds are predictable. It starts at 1 and increases by 1 for every new feature that is to be listed in a What’s New dialog box.  The Bad News is that each application can have its own number of new features to display, so knowing how many values isn’t known ahead of time. The Better News is that there is a bug (VSO #1476177 – Give admins a better way to turn off the What’s New dialog for O365 users) reported by our same Microsoft friends to recognize a boolean to “Don’t show me any more What’s New dialogs for any new versions ever.”  The Bestest News is that the new boolean value coming in version 15.34 can be set in the key ShowWhatsNewOnLaunch to be -bool false in the com.microsoft.office domain for the entire suite.  No need for individual application domain settings to suppress What’s New dialogs. That feature is on track to be part of the 15.34 release on May 16th.

So, until May 16th, you can add a list of values to the OUIWhatsNewShownItemIds key to suppress dialogs until the boolean value is respected.  The array must be a complete list meaning you can’t just add a value of 10 and have that mean block all values 1-10.

Each application domain (com.microsoft.Excel, com.microsoft.onenote.mac, com.microsoft.Outlook, com.microsoft.Powerpoint, and com.microsoft.Word) will need the values added for OUIWhatsNewShownItemIds. The easiest way would be to add these values to the existing mobileconfig profiles from Not much, what’s new with you? and modify it like this example for Word. But come version 15.34 just use the new key in the com.microsoft.office domain and call it a night.

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Office 2016 Preference Management Changes

Starting with Office version 15.33 you’ll have the ability to manage some suite-wide preferences via profile management. Previously, these settings were configurable via defaults commands but weren’t CFPrefs enabled to allow for profile management of the settings. Thanks to the hard work of Paul Bowden and Erik Schwiebert at Microsoft, along with the collaboration and feedback of Mac admins in the macadmins.org slack instance, this request of preference management has been made possible. And this is just the beginning. Now with the foundation for preference management in code this will allow for more management options in future versions.

When an Office 15.33 app is launched for the first time, the existing preferences in ~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/com.microsoft.officeprefs.plist will be migrated over to the new preference domain automatically. At that time a key will be set signaling that the migration has occurred.

Paul has put together a new site (http://www.office4mac.com) that showcases a video course educating users and admins of the management changes. Look for more videos to come. This video shows examples of the preference changes, how to manage them, and implementing them through a management system. It’s definitely worth the watch.

For me, the meat and potatoes of these changes are the keys and values that are manageable in the com.microsoft.office domain. Here is an example management profile of all the keys that can be managed.

suite-wide preferences.png

OfficeActivationEmailAddress adds a “Belongs to” value in the About box to list who owns the software.

DefaultsToLocalOpenSave – by default Office offers to open and save documents to OneDrive, however due to data security policies that may not be acceptable and confuse users. This key will set the default open and save dialog boxes of all Office apps to the standard System views.

VisualBasicMacroExecutionState has 3 values that relate to the “GUI settings” in Preferences->Security & Privacty in app:

DisabledWithWarnings – “Disable all macros with notification” (Default)

DisableWithoutWarnings – “Disable all macros without notification”

EnabledWithoutWarnings – “Enable all macros (not recommended; potentially dangerous code can run)”

I don’t recommend managing the HaveMergedOldPrefs key as that is set organically. If you set it to TRUE then the old pref won’t be migrated automatically on first run. If you manage it as FALSE then it will try and migrate on every launch.

The two debug keys msoridEnableLogging and msoridDefaultMinimumSeverity should only be set when debugging an issue and I don’t see a need to manage them centrally. Leaving them enabled isn’t recommended.

Seeing these preference options move to a manageable location is a big plus for us admins, not only for the specifics of these settings, but also in the willingness of Microsoft to make these changes based on admin feedback. This can only mean more good things in the future.

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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

Update 3-9-17: I just realized I’m doing a disservice by not pointing out all of the hard work Paul Bowden, Software Engineer of Office for Mac, has been doing.  He has a site that curates all the updates.  The updates he points to are the same as those below but in a more orderly fashion.  You should really check out that site at https://macadmins.software

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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Office 2016 Mac admin resource links

Below is a gathering of all the discoveries fellow Mac admins have documented regarding Office 2016 for Mac; both Office 365 and Volume License varieties.  This post will be updated as new issues are made known.

Discussion and discovery on these topics and all things Microsoft Office are on-going on the Macadmins Slack team in channel #microsoft-office.  You can get an invite to join us on Slack by going to http://macadmins.org

Office 2016 Direct Download links

http://macadmins.software – Straight from the source and curated by Paul Bowden at Microsoft, this lists all downloads and updates since the first non-preview release on 7/9. The red table lists latest versions available, the green table lists all the permalinks, and the black table has links to all releases and KB articles, plus extra information like build date.

https://osxbytes.wordpress.com/2015/11/12/office-2016-direct-download-links/


Demystify Office 2016 for Mac 

https://clburlison.com/demystify-office2016/ – in Slack/Twitter @clburlison – use this excellent guide to distinguish the different installation/license/upgrade options for Office 2016.


Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac serialization changes  https://macmule.com/2015/12/11/microsoft-office-2016-for-mac-serialisation-changes – in Slack @macmule


Suppressing first launch “What’s New” for Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint, Word & OneNote, and Outlook’s account setup:

http://macops.ca/disabling-first-run-dialogs-in-office-2016-for-mac/ – in Slack @tvsutton
https://osxbytes.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/not-much-whats-new-with-you/ – in Slack @eholtam


Volume License installer issues: – being addressed in the December release

http://macops.ca/whats-wrong-with-the-office-2016-volume-license-installer/ – in Slack @tvsutton
http://macops.ca/the-office-for-mac-2016-volume-license-installer-two-months-later/ – @tvsutton


Outlook 2016 setup script:

https://github.com/talkingmoose/Oulook-Exchange-Setup-5.0 – in Slack @talkingmoose
https://github.com/poundbangbash/Outlook-Exchange-Setup-5.0-Meredith@eholtam – My fork addressing running the setup script on first launch of Outlook.


Office 2016 Packaging:

http://www.richard-purves.com/?p=79 – in Slack @franton


Suppress Microsoft AutoUpdate launch warning – needs to be run per-user

https://gist.github.com/erikng/7cede5be1c0ae2f85435 – in Slack @erik


Remove Office 2011 script (and some shared 2016 bits like license, MAU, etc.)

http://www.officeformachelp.com/office/install/remove-office/ – in Slack @talkingmoose


Administering Office 2016 for Mac presentations by @talkingmoose

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-EtZizWJdQ – PSU 2015

http://bit.ly/1HgsqJE – University of Utah 2015 (QT)
https://stream.lib.utah.edu/index.php?c=details&id=11446 – University of Utah 2015 (Streaming)


Fun with Microsoft Office 2016

https://themacwrangler.wordpress.com/2015/11/17/fun-with-microsoft-office-2016/ – in Slack @hunty

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Not much, what’s new with you?

Update: See this post for new information on changes to suppressing What’s New dialogs starting with 15.34.

Update: As expected the `OUIWhatsNewLastShowLink` key is being incremented to display new features on subsequent releases. The profiles below will contain the latest values for the currently released versions.

Profiles for Office 2016 version 15.31

Office 2016 offers to show users “What’s New” on first launch.  Tim Sutton has a writeup on how to suppress the initial dialogs on his blog.  However, with version 15.14 of the Office apps there’s new “What’s New”s for Outlook and Powerpoint that sets a key not mentioned in the aforementioned post to suppress the new dialog.  This only affects Powerpoint and Outlook for this version.  Word and Excel didn’t present new prompts on launch this time around.

Along with the “What’s New” keys there are some others of interest:

kSubUIAppCompletedFirstRunSetup1507 – boolean – Controls the original “What’s New” dialog and Office 365 activation prompt on first launch

OUIWhatsNewLastShownLink – string – Controls the “What’s New” dialog on first launch for new prompts offered in subsequent version.

FirstRunExperienceCompletedO15 – boolean – Controls offer to import mailbox or setup an email account. (That’s a cap o15, not zero15)

SendAllTelemetryEnabledboolean – Control the offer to send crash reports to Microsoft

ONWhatsNewShownItemIds – array – Specific to OneNote this value is an array of integers that appears to increment haphazardly.  For just OneNote, this replaces the OUIWhatsNewLastShownLink value.

OUIWhatsNewLastShownLink values

Profiles
Below are profiles that will suppress the “What’s New” and disable crash reports prompts. These examples are set to “Force” the setting as attempts using Set-Once with a timestamp didn’t seem to be effective.

Outlook – suppress “What’s New” only (see below for suppressing Inbox migration)
Outlook – suppress “What’s New” and mailbox setup*

Powerpoint

OneNote

Word

Excel

*There is also a key for Outlook that will suppress the dialog to offer to migrate or setup an email account.  That key is a boolean FirstRunExperienceCompletedO15.  That’s a captial o, not a zero at the end of the key.

 FirstRunExperienceCompletedO15 suppresses this

To extract the values of the OUIWhatsNewLastShownLink I have a script that I run after installing and running each new application.  That script is at OUIWhatsNewLastShownLink Script

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