With template identification/migration and the training plan well under way, one would think that the next step would be to start worrying about the application package and rollout plan, but with an application as far reaching as Office that would still be jumping the gun. One still needs to make sure that the environment itself is ready for Office 2010.
Making sure that your environment is truly ready for office 2010 is not a simple question to ask as there are a number of things that may impact the answer that are not obvious at first glance. In many organizations, there are lots of individual pieces that interact with the Office Suite. Sometimes these applications even fall outside of traditional IT as they may be driven by individuals or small user groups within the organization.
In most of the organizations I have been involved with, the Office Application Suite has rarely stood on its own. There have always been applications that have been wholly dependent on the Office Suite for their very functionality, and many of these have significant importance to the overall workflow of the underlying organization. These applications have taken many forms, but some common examples would be:??
Contract Management Applications?? Document Creation Wizards?? Contact Sync/CRM Applications?? Resource Scheduling Applications?? Email Archival Applications?? Desktop-based PDA sync software??
When looking for these, it is often helpful to think of applications that directly interact with user mailboxes, calendars, contacts, or documents. Whatever shape these applications take or role they play in your environment, they are likely a significant part of the workflow for at least one group in your organization. Like it or not, these applications need to be investigated, tested, and remediated with the new platform before any significant end-user trials will be able to begin. These applications may even have the business impact potential that could delay final rollout of the Office platform until they can be addressed.??
In many organizations there are also classes of applications that, while not dependent on Office, are significantly impacted by changes in the Office Suite. Examples of this type of application would be:??
Email Filtering Applications?? Anti-Virus Applications?? Document Search Systems?? Phone/PDA document viewing/editing software?
Don't discount the impact of these applications, especially if you are migrating from Office 2003 or earlier. For example, the newer XML-based file formats are still causing problems with email spam filters due to Microsoft's use of EMF and WMF pointers within the documents for items like pictures and links within Office documents. Even so, problems in this category of applications is not likely to stop migrations from occurring as there are typically relatively easy workarounds such as the use of the legacy file formats.??
Even without considering the space requirements of templates or other supporting materials, most of the various Office Application suites require in excess of 3GB of free disk space in order to successfully install/operate. Finding 3GB of disk space on a new or even freshly imaged legacy machine is typically no problem. Finding 3GB of free space on a machine that has been in the hands of a user for 2 years, well that may be an entirely different story.
For those with a management system such as SCCM, finding these machines is a relatively simple thing. For those without such as system, there are still options such as placing a disk space scan in the organization's login script.
If you find a significant number of machines with disk space issues, do not fret. A number of items can likely be done to help clean up workstation disk space without impacting end-user behavior:??
Remove unused user profiles from workstations (Can be done by date on the ntuser.dat file in the root of the profile)?? Cleanup TEMP folders?? Cleanup Temporary Internet Files folders???
As has been the case with the previous versions of Office, office 2010 is fully manageable via Group Policy.? I like to work though the details of how I want the initial GPO settings to appear prior to starting the actual application package, so that I can mirror the settings in the app package. This allows the applications to be almost entirely setup and configured without the need of a Group Policy update, even for the remote worker community.
The GPO template files can be downloaded from Make sure to look at the Settings Reference Spreadsheet. There are a great many changes to the policies for Office 2010 from previous versions. The spreadsheet includes separate tabs to help one identify what is new, has been removed, and has been updated.
Additional Tools to Assist the Planning Process
You will also want to download the from Microsoft. This set of tools will assist in the process of identifying likely problems in your environment including items like VBA or 64-bit OS incompatibilities. This is a necessary step as the other remediation items mentioned earlier are all application-based. These tools will help you look at your existing file inventory to identify risks within the files themselves. There is also a bulk document conversion tool to convert large numbers of documents from the legacy binary formats to the new XML-based formats for organizations that wish to do so.
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