Installing the Microsoft office 2007 compatibility pack through Group Policy with Server 2003

Let me start off by saying that I am assuming that you know your way around Active Directory. If not you probably should not attempt this.

Over the last year and a half or so I have received many emails and phone calls from users on my network using Office 2003 who are receiving the newer Office 2007 formats and requesting that I convert the files so that they can open them.

Usually I just do it, however this has gone from a minor pain to a major inconvenience. So that being said, I decided to install the Microsoft office 2007 compatibility pack though a Group Policy Object (GPO) in active directory on every computer on the domain.

I had never done this before and was very surprised how easy it was. The first thing that you need to know is that for this to work you need to have a .msi (Microsoft Installer) file. A .mst or .msp file will work as well (or so I have read). Second this file needs to be located in a shared folder on the network that all computers have at least “read” access to.

The only thing I could find was a .exe but after doing some research on line I found the .exe extracted the .msi in C:\Program Files\MSECache\O2007Cnv\1033

After I set up my shared folder for my .msi file I then RDPed (see my article on how to use Remote Desktop) into my domain controller and went  to Active Directory Users and Computers. Right click on the domain, and go to properties. The properties window will popup and then  move over to the group policy tab.

Click on Edit and then select Software settings from either Computer Configuration or user configuration (yes you can do this on a user or group bases). Select “Software Settings” then right click on “Software installation” then “new” then “Package”.

At this point you will need to point to the .msi file ( Make sure not to point to a local path, use the network path, i.e. \\servername\somefolder\file.msi)

Once you have selected a .msi file it will ask you if you want to pick the “Assigned”, or the “Advanced” application deployment. I left it default “assigned”. You can Google what the difference is between Published , Assigned and Advanced.

Now any machine running under that group policy will install the package when it is rebooted and you should see the following just before the log in screen appears.

That’s all there is to it! You have just installed a software package across your entire domain saving you time, money and most importantly stress.

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