Office 2003 OEM - Install and Deploy

Posted on 2006-04-04
Last Modified: 2008-02-01
Our company recently purchased Dell computers with Office 2003 OEM version. I am trying to create an image for everyone to use but I am worried about the whole product activation situation on the master build. When you install Office 2003 the first thing it asks you for is the Product Key, which means that you have to enter it to preinstall Office on the image and activate it, then SYSPREP the image and deploy.

This means that all computers will be using the same Product Key within our company. Will we get the activation prompt on all the PC's down the track because they're all using the same Product Key? I'm pretty sure we will.

I'm aware the each computer will have the XP Product Key prompt when they first boot up after imaging and they will also be prompted for a machine name, then attach to the domain which is exactly what I want. Unfortunately this process doesn't take into account the Office 2003 Product Key which will be duplicated on all the machines. Is there a way around this or a way that you can be prompted for the key after its sysprep'd and booted up?

We don't have volume licensing so I can't use an administrative installation of Office to bypass the key prompt and we're not an OEM so I don't have access to the "OEM Preinstallation Kit".

Any suggestions would be most welcome.

Question by:CobaltSolutions
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    I'm not sure there's a solution here that doesn't potentially instruct people how to violate Microsoft Licensing terms.   Any reason you didn't buy a volume license agreement?  That CAN be less expensive then buying the OEM licenses from Dell.

    Author Comment

    I have found a workaround for this, by removing the following registry key it will prompt for a new Product Key on the first use of any of the applications, the old key will be shown there but you can overtype it with a new one and then it should work. This is in initial testing so far, just thought I'd pop this up in case anyone had any ideas along the same lines or if anyone could see a flaw in this approach.

    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    Microsoft has an Office OEM ORK or Office Resource Kit. It takes a while to learn how to use it, as does sysprep but is worth it in the long run if you don't want to run afoul of the license police...

    you can find more info about it here:

    There is also the enhanced setup.exe from the Office resource kit:
    LVL 2

    Expert Comment

    In the end, by bypassing the Key/Activation by installing, activating, and then making the image afterwards, you are definately violating the EULA without the Volume Licensing Agreement.  If at all possible, I would recommend looking into a Microsoft Licensed Vendor so that you would be able to purchase the volume licenses without going through Dell or whatever hardware manufacturer you use to buy the computers from.  It is most definately cheaper, and the more you buy, of course, the cheaper it is.

    I don't recommend in any business to try and circumvent license procedures.  Yes, it's quite costly for software, but in the end, it costs less than super fine for every copyright violation you incur :/  Sorry there couldn't be better news.

    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    You can cause the setup of the office installation to run as part of the PC OS installation. Or use Group Policy to assign the installation to the PC's from AD. There are ways to do this. It just may mean being creative.

    Author Comment

    Well, we're going to go with the removal of the registry key. We have paid for each and every copy of Office 2003 so we are not pirating nor stealing any copies of Office. It makes me wonder why MS make it so difficult for us to roll out their product.

    @ieden: Thanks for your comments. I cannot see anything in the resource kit link listed above that covers OEM versions, everything there seems to be Volume License Agreement related. The enhanced setup.exe though very handy doesn't really help with the original question. An installation of the product post-image is not desirable.

    @matricii and leew: Thankyou for the advice, for 120 copies of Office Pro Volume License wasn't cost effective. The price would have been almost double for the same product...crazy imo.

    Your comments are appreciated guys, thankyou.

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