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Best practices on how to install Microsoft Office apps in your school's Mac lab using a mobile device management solution

Best practices on how to install Microsoft Office apps in your school's Mac lab using a mobile device management solution

Mosyle Team
written by Mosyle Team

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Word, Excel and Powerpoint are currently some of the most popular productivity software. Schools can provide students with these Microsoft Office tools to work on assignments and activities. But what is the best way to get the most streamlined deployment, to remotely install the applications in mass?

By using a device management solution, you are able to deploy Microsoft Office software to the Mac devices of your school using different methods to further streamline your Mac deployment.

In this article, we’ll help you understand the difference between Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Office packages and serializer, and provide you with instructions so you can deploy Microsoft Office software to the macOS devices of your School or School District in the easiest and smoothest way.

Microsoft Office 365 vs Microsoft Office packages and serializer

Many of our Education customers have asked us about the difference between Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Office packages and serializer since in fact, they are different products. Office 365 works by users signing in with their Office 365 accounts and can be distributed in bulk across the Mac fleet using the App Store or Apple School Manager’s Apps and Books (Volume Purchase Program).

On the other hand, the Microsoft Office packages (PKG files) and serializer are used when deploying other versions of Microsoft Office, such as Microsoft Office 2019. In this case, the recommended deployment method is downloading the PKG file from the Microsoft Office website, hosting it and using the MDM solution to distribute the PKG file through the Install PKG profile and the serializer through Custom Scripts (both can be deployed using Custom Scripts if desired).

Keep reading to learn more about both methods!

How to deploy Microsoft Office 365 using Apple School Manager’s Apps and Books

With the release of Microsoft Office 365 on the Mac App Store, you are now able to deploy these applications in bulk to your school's macOS devices using VPP deployment. The workflow is very easy and pretty similar to the steps you go through when distributing other applications through the ASM's Apps and Books feature.

Using Apple School Manager, it's possible to purchase licenses for the following apps from the Microsoft Office 365 package:

If you are using Mosyle Manager as your device management solution for Education, you can create the Install App profile within the Management tab once the licenses have been acquired. When creating the profile in Mosyle Manager, make sure to set the Installation Source for the profile to VPP.

Once the profile has been assigned and saved, it will push the Office 365 apps silently to the Macs. Once installed, the apps will be ready to use once users authenticate with their Office 365 account.

How to deploy Microsoft Office packages using PKGs and serializer

Microsoft Office allows you to download the entire PKG file for the Office Suite, or you can download the individual packages for Word, Excel or Powerpoint, for example. To remotely deploying software and applications to the Mac devices, you’ll want to generate and host the PKG files. Click here to learn some tips about generating and hosting PKGs files.

In the case of the Microsoft Office, you need first to download the full PKG file from the Office site to upload it to a cloud hosting server, or what we call a Content Delivery Network (CDN) - one that does not require user interaction to access.

There are many CDN solutions, including the Mosyle CDN as an add-on service for hosting enterprise or non-App Store applications. Using the Mosyle CDN makes it so you don’t need to worry about creating a CDN with cloud providers, and allows you to access and host your PKGs directly in Mosyle’s CDN. Contact our team to learn more about this add-on service!

If you'd prefer to deploy the individual PKG for each application, we would recommend installing the entire Suite on one Mac device from your school's device fleet and then use the Mosyle Packager tool to create the PKGs for the individual apps to be hosted in the CDN. After hosting the individual PKGs or the entire Office Suite, you can create the Install PKG profile to deploy the applications.

Since you are using the PKG file method, you will likely need to deploy the Microsoft Office Serializer in order to activate the copies of the Microsoft applications that you are deploying. You can find Microsoft's instructions here.

Once you have the serializer .pkg, you will want to host it independently of the Microsoft Office PKGs and then use the following Custom Command to deploy the serializer. Please note you will need to enter your URL in the Custom Command in order for the deployment to be successful:

URLDOWNLOAD="ENTER_YOUR_URL_HERE";
NAME=/private/tmp/$(date +%s).pkg;
curl --silent -o "$NAME" "$URLDOWNLOAD";
installer -allowUntrusted -pkg "$NAME" -target /;
rm -rf "$NAME"
echo "Office Serializer Installed"

We recommend first testing the command on a single device using the Custom Command Testing area available in the Mosyle Manager platform before mass deployment on all the Mac devices.

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