Deploying Click To Run Programs With Intune

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For YEARS I maintained my own personal licenses of Microsoft's suite of products through the now-defunct TechnetPlus subscription program. It was genius: for $249/year, I had access to Microsoft's entire product catalog. It allowed me to build my own network at home without falling afoul of licensing restrictions and stay on top of changes in my industry, all without impacting a customer environment. It also allowed me to run critical applications like Visio and Project.

2 years ago, that program died. I'm not sure how upset the IT community really was, but I was gutted. For me it was the best $249 tax-deductible annual fee I could possibly invest my continuing education, and it was just gone. And then last year the licensing expired on my existing installations, forcing me to scramble to back-fill those application gaps.

The first thing I had to do was to re-install Office. I leveraged the company's Office 365 licensing to install Office ProPlus, but no matter what I did, I could not get Visio to re-install. Visio is key to my role in designing and implementing systems, and I couldn't just not have it.

A bit of research revealed an interesting limitation: if you install Office products from your Office 365 subscription, you cannot install other Office products from any other licensing structure. Specifically, Office 365 licenses you to download and install products via click-to-run. The click-to-run SKU's are directly incompatible with EA or volume-licensing SKU's, though there is no warning or message built into the installer to alert you to this.

Once I was able to assign myself the click-to-run Office 365 Visio and Project licenses, installation through the Office 365 Portal was...well, simpler, but not great. I still had to *FIND* the products in the Portal, which seemed awfully inconvenient from an end-user perspective.

Fast-forward to last week, when a client was experiencing a similar limitation, and we got to leverage a pretty cool bit of tech to solve a global issue: a client was facing a familiar issue of unsuccessful Visio and Project deployments, but wanted to alleviate the end-user strain thru Microsoft Intune.

Whereas almost any other package in Intune would require pulling down an ISO, mounting it, tweaking the contents, re-packaging it, uploading it, and then working out the deployment scenarios, the click-to-run installation couldn't be done the same way. There is no ISO to download, and you cannot shoehorn the volume-licensing version into a click-to-run scenario.

A quick search of the Interwebs revealed that others had run up against the same challenge, but there wasn't a lot of good guidance to bridge the gap.

In the end, all it took was the Office 2016 Deployment Tool and a few tweaks to an XML file. The entire size of the download is 3MB, a far cry from the 420MB ISO for VisioPro 2016.

The configuration.xml file will not work in its default state--everything is commented out. Once the comments are removed, though, the EULA is set to accept and the installation is set to silent. The only things to tweak are the specific product name and to add a line for logging, if you're so inclined.

Once done, I logged in to the Intune Portal, built an app package specifying the downloaded setup.exe and passed "/configure configuration.xml" as a command-line argument, and published the app. Within 2 minutes I was able to see the package in the client's company portal, and 5 minutes later I was running Visio.

As a demonstration for my peers, I took the same two downloaded files, re-tweaked the xml file to say "ProjectProRetail" in the product name, built a new app package, and deployed Project to myself.

This is the power of integration. I went from no product to a globally-deployable and repeatable solution in under 10 minutes with only 3MB of file-transfer. I am loving the future.



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