This article offers a simple tool and some instructions to help anyone with the following problem: You've obtained a copy of Microsoft Office (for Windows) via Microsoft's charity donation scheme, only to discover that you have to use their Volume Licensing system to install it. This means that you don't get a nice, easy setup wizard to follow; instead, you find the process less than straight forward for those who don't live and breathe technology.
My friend John Percival has helped a number of church leaders and administrators through this process. He's prepared a simple tool that will walk you through the installation even more simply than if you held an Office DVD in your hand.
Below, you'll find his tool, and some basic instructions in how to use it. After that, there are some other notes for those who want the background to this, have slightly differently different requirements, or hit one or two common problems.
Download three files, and put them in the same place (the same directory):
- The Office 2019 Install Helper batch file (from this website)
- The Configuration file (from this website)
- The Office Deployment Tool (from Microsoft). Run the file you've just downloaded, and when you're asked to choose a folder, select the same place as the files you just downloaded. [It's a "self-extracting zip file". That's to say, it contains a few files all bundled up together into a single file you can download. When you run it, it unloads its cargo, giving you 6 new files in whatever location you chose when prompted.]
Concerned about running files you downloaded from the internet? (You should be!) See a note on this below.
Note: Your browser may warn you about batch files, so you may have to click "Keep" or "Download anyway". Here's what this looks like in Chrome:
Note: This installs Office 2019 Standard. If you wanted Office 2019 ProPlus (i.e., you wanted MS Access too), see a note on this below
Run the Helper batch file (office_2019_install_helper.bat).
If Windows stops you from running it, displaying a "Windows protected your PC" security message, see a note on this below.
You'll see a disclaimer; if you don't wish to proceed, close the window. If you do wish to proceed, press any key. If you're not logged into your computer as an administrator, you'll be prompted to enter the password for a user with admin privileges. Then sit back and wait. This will take some time, exactly how long depends on your internet speed. It's downloading about 2 GB of data from Microsoft's servers.
Reboot your computer, just because it never hurts and may clean a few things up. And you should be able to run Office. At some point in the first few days of using Office, you'll be asked for a License Key. You'll need to retrieve that from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service website, as documented over at tt-exchange.
That's it. Easy!
Microsoft donates software to charities. That means, that if you're a Christian church registered with the Charity Commission, you may well be able to use the latest version of the Microsoft Office Suite (2019) for a fraction of the retail price.
The way to do it is to register your charity at tt-exchange: https://www.tt-exchange.org/getting_started. Registered charities register using your charity registration number. Smaller churches may not have one, but tt-exchange have confirmed you can choose the HMRC Charitable Status option and enter your Gift Aid reference number instead; in this case, you'll need to send them additional documentation so they can verify your eligibility.
You can then obtain a fully legal copy of Office 2019 Standard for £23+VAT. At time of writing, the Standard edition ("Home and Business", if you need Microsoft Outlook in the bundle) is £199 from Amazon.
The internet is huge, and largely unregulated. There's a lot of good out there, but there is also lots that's bad, including malicious software. This includes software that is designed to mimic well-known and trusted software, whilst actually being nothing more than a virus or bundling a virus into the package. This installer will ask you to grant it administrative rights. You need that to install Office 2019, but it means you need to be sure you're running something you trust.
Generally, the rule of thumb is: Only download software from the original vendor, or a trusted and well-reputed download site. This tool is something John and I have worked on, so this is the original vendor's website. Beyond that, here are some things you could do to reassure yourself:
- Open the batch file in a text editor (like Notepad, or Notepad++). Take a look at what it's doing and see how it works. Most of it is just "echo" statements, which display a message on screen. The two lines that do anything both run "setup.exe", the Office Deployment Tool you downloaded from Microsoft. You could then look at their documentation for that tool. You'll see that using it involves running it first with /download, then with /configure, which is exactly what this batch file does.
- If you're technically minded enough to know what this means, but just want a little help installing Office (to avoid reinventing the wheel), you could verify a hash of the batch file. There's a simple online tool do this.
- MD5 = 5692fd615f6e20a54d0d6d5bde881ad8.
- SHA256 = e282de6535c986166ef6ed2488e4f4a95f6c4ea2b491f730d4111afd7ce82a70
Windows comes with a tool called Windows Defender SmartScreen, which analyses software before you run it. If it knows about a program, it stays silently in the background. If it knows it's malicious, it will stop you. If it simply hasn't heard of the programme, it will stop you, but there is a way to continue.
Here's the warning you may see (the background may be another colour, such as dark blue):
Click "More info" (highlighted above). You'll now see that "Don't run" is no longer your only option:
If you are absolutely sure you trust this app, click "Run anyway", and you're away!
Microsoft used to offer charities a donation of Office ProPlus, an edition that also included Microsoft Access. They no longer do, but if you need Access you can add it separately for an additional £8 + VAT.
That gives you a license to use Access, but you also need to modify the installation process above. Instead of downloading the regular configuration.xml file, as linked above, download the configuration.xml file that includes Access. Then follow the instructions above.
The above instructions will install Office Standard 2019 (and optionally MS Access) in full, in the default location, in the 32-bit edition. If for any reason you have different requirements (adding extra language packs, running in 64-bit, excluding some programs from the suite, etc.), this can be done.
It's beyond our resources to document every possible configuration. Instead, you can generate your own configuration.xml file using Microsoft's Office Customization Tool. Enter all the options you need into the online tool, click Finish at the bottom of the page, then click the "Export" button (top-right) to retrieve this as a configuration.xml file. Save this in place of our configuration files, and then proceed as above.
Removing Previous Versions of Office
Please be aware that installing office in this way will also remove any previous installations that were installed with a manual installer. You wouldn't normally want more than one Office installation at a time, but if you don't want other installations removed, edit the configuration file and remove this line:
Questions / Comments?
John and I really hope this is helpful. We offer it as a courtesy. By all means post in the comments below if you have questions, so the conversation takes place in public where all can benefit. We'll gladly help if we can, and others may have expertise to offer too.