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From Field Book on Citrix/App-V Integration: Office?

by Tim Mangan, CTP Fellow, Boston CUGC Leader

Field Book Chapter 5: Packaging Office on XenApp?

ABOUT THE SERIES:

The Field Book on Citrix with App-V is a collection of experiences in customer implementations.  This article helps to understand the current situation on implementing Microsoft Office in  App-V on XenApp.

Use tag FieldBook to search for more from the series.

Scenario:

XenApp customer is mostly on Office 2013 but is moving to Office 2016.  They do not want to have server silos so they want to put Office 2013 natively and virtualize Office 2016.

Time-Frame:

November/December 2016

Considerations:

Microsoft supports, but does not recommend, running a virtualized version of Office on a machine with a different locally installed version.  For this customer, the Microsoft supports portion is what is important.  They do not use some of the more exotic integrations, such as SharePoint, that would invite the kinds of known and unknown issues that prevent Microsoft from recommending this approach.

Office 2016 and Office365 are easily packaged using the Microsoft Deployment Tool for Office. You run this tool against the click-to-run version of Office to directly produce an App-V package.  While I have been hesitant to recommend a virtualized Office due to integration issues in the past, we have seen a good amount of success with virtualizing 2016/365 via the tool at other customers.

Result:

Some initial tests were done in early September. The deployment tool was used and a package created with the “SharedComputerActivation” setting.  This was tested and appears to be suitable.

After the decision was made to virtualize Office 2016 and some initial tests generated, but before it was time to produce the final package, Microsoft updated Office and the Deployment Tool.  At that time, without really telling anyone (outside a small support statement buried in the documentation of the XML syntax of the deployment tool) they removed support for virtualizing Office 2016 with App-V.  We aren’t sure exactly why, but it seems to be a licensing thing.  So creating an App-V package for Office 2016 was no longer viable.  This left the customer with the choice of either going native and adding a silo, or moving from virtualized Office 2016 to virtualized Office365.

In addition to having Office 2016 licenses, the customer has enough unused Office365 licenses available to meet the need and had previously tested a native install Office365 and determined that it met their needs.  So we create a package using the updated deployment tool for Office365. 

This virtualized Office365 package is tested initially on a desktop OS and appears to be good.  But when placed on the XenApp server, launching produces an error dialog that Office365 is not supported on “Terminal Services”. WTF???

After local investigation, a ticket with Microsoft is opened. Microsoft confirms that they have a bug and the customer is awaiting a fix.  There is no ETA on the fix as of this posting.

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