How to customize Microsoft Office installations - Tutorial

Updated: February 10, 2020

Back in 2016, I bought myself a copy of Microsoft Office 2016 Pro Plus. I didn't really need it, and the actual installer sat on a proverbial shelf for about three years, collecting digital dust. Then, I did have a need, a need for office, and I ran the installer. I expected it to give me some customization options, as I was only interested in the three main programs - Word, Excel and Powerpoint, and didn't care about the rest of the suite.

Lo and behold, the installer completed without asking me anything, and all the programs were set up. No. So I spent time trying to find a way to undo this nonsense and then re-setup Office with just the three applications, and the end result is this tutorial. Let me show you the rather non-trivial way of how you need to go about customized Office installations. After me.


Office Deployment Tool

The thing is, with the move to Click-and-Run versions of Office, the installation cannot be customized through the GUI wizard. Instead, you need to use something call Office Deployment Tool (ODT). This is a command-line utility that parses an XML configuration file, which lets you exclude certain components of the office suite. Read that again. We've gone from simple, friendly click-click wizards to command line plus config files. Does not sound like progress to me.

Download the tool. Run it - the tool will extract. You will see two components, setup.exe and configuration.xml file. If you want to have a customized installation, you need to edit the XML file. Let me show you my setup, and then we will discuss the details.

 <Add SourcePath="K:\Downloads\" OfficeClientEdition="64" >
  <Product ID="ProPlusRetail">
   <Language ID="en-us" />
   <ExcludeApp ID="Access" />
   <ExcludeApp ID="Groove" />
   <ExcludeApp ID="InfoPath" />
   <ExcludeApp ID="Lync" />
   <ExcludeApp ID="OneNote" />
   <ExcludeApp ID="Outlook" />
   <ExcludeApp ID="Project" />
   <ExcludeApp ID="Publisher" />
   <ExcludeApp ID="SharePointDesigner" />
   <ExcludeApp ID="Visio" />

What do we have here?

Let's briefly go through the different lines in the XML file:

And that's it. We now have a configuration that excludes everything but the three main programs.

Download setup files

Launch the command line, change directory to where the actual setup.exe resides, and run:

setup.exe /download \path\to\configuration.xml

If setup.exe and configuration.xml are in the same folder, you can just run:

setup.exe /download configuration.xml

This command will grab the files from the Web, and place them into a folder called Office installation data.

Install Office

Now, you can actually install the suite. Just run:

setup.exe /configure configuration.xml

You will see the installation splash animation, and it will actually show icons only for the components you have selected. Once the installation completes, start the program, accept the EULA and provide your serial number. For a fully hands-off procedure, you can add these values into the configuration.xml file, if you like.

Customized installation


I am really surprised, even stunned that the newer versions of Office come with this clunky, unfriendly method of installation. I guess the only reasonable motivation would be to have everything installed on a user's computer, hoping they find additional use for different programs in the suite than they normally would. Or perhaps this is a slow, inevitable, inexorable creep toward total cloud domination, which means I will have to quit the Internet at some point and just go to a mountain somewhere, and grow goats.

Anyway, if you're trying to figure out how to customize your Office suite setup, so you have a slim footprint with only the software you need, then this tutorial provides the necessary steps. It's not easy, and you should be somewhat comfy using the command line, but it's doable. There we go. One more pointless obstacle overcome. One billion left to go.