Trying to ThinApp Office 2010

Posted on 2014-10-12
Last Modified: 2014-10-31
Has anyone had success in getting office to work consistently in a ThinApp environment?  I have been gone through the process multiple times and cannot get consistency.

My situation is this:
VMWare 5.5
ThinApp 5.1.0
Office 2010 with a valid KMS key
KMS server is confirmed accessible from the workstations

I have found articles indicating that I should make sure to activate it first and read articles that indicate that I should NOT activate it.  I have tried both ways and still run into the same issue.  One day, the office products will open fine.  The next day, they will show as not activated and crash out.  Sometimes they give the error that the product is not activated and sometimes they work fine.

Thank you for any assistance that you can give.
Question by:mingerto
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Expert Comment

ID: 40378759
My understanding with Office 2010 and ThinApp 5.x is you need to add the correct Settings ID to the end of the CONFIG.XML (extracted from the MS Office 2010 Installation Files).  Additionally, both capture and deploy systems need to have the same version of .NET.  

See VMware's Packaging Guid for ThinApp 5.x and Microsoft Office 2010 (2062694) for further details.

NOTE:  As the KB says, capturing a 64-bit version of Office 2010 is only supported on a 64-bit Win7 OS.  These instructions, however, will work for both 32-bit and 64-bit captures of Office 2010.

Expert Comment

ID: 40382078
I pinged our ThinApp devs on this as well. Here are a couple of things they responded with.

During testing phases, the activation issue was seen when:
1. The KMS server and the client machine are in different time zones.
2. When the OS on which you are running office 2010 is not activated.

Additionally, office ThinApp activates only during first launch (for each user) and the activation details gets saved into sandbox. Unless the sandbox is deleted, the ThinApp packaged Office will not reactivate.
Here are the possibilities for the issue:
1. Non persistent desktops may be in use where the sandbox gets deleted everytime when the user logs off.
2. Roaming profiles are not configured properly to include sandbox location.  

In either of the last two scenarios, this can be resolved by correctly configuring the sandbox location - whether by redirecting the sandbox to the user home directory or other static user location or by configuring the roaming/synchronized profile to include replication of the sandbox.

Thanks to Guru and Lakshmana for this info.

Author Comment

ID: 40384653
Thank you for the feedback.

The article you cited was one of that I read and followed to the letter.  It indicates that you should make sure to activate Office.  There is an additional VMware article that indicates if you have issues that you should NOT activate the product.

Further clarity:
This is 32-bit Office running on a 32-bit Win 7 desktop.
The KMS server and the client machine are in the same building.
The OS was activated months ago on the same KMS server.

I agree that activation SHOULD only occur on the first launch.  However, it seems to be treating every launch as the first launch.  I have checked to make sure that the sandbox is being created and it is definitely there.

You strike a chord with the second part of this.  We are trying to push this to physical desktops, not VMs.  In addition, we are not using roaming profiles.  I have directed the sandbox to multiple locations including a totally separate  directory on the workstation (C:\Thinapps).

Some background data on what we are attempting to do.  We have a third party product that is causing major issues with the users current Excel add-ins.  For this reason, we are attempting to give them a ThinApp version of Excel in addition to their local copy.  Both copies are 32-bit and are identical in every way to prevent versioning issues.  Other than the activation issue, the side by side installs seem to work flawlessly.  I just need to find a way around the activation issue.
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Expert Comment

ID: 40384706
No VMs, good to know. :-)

One question for clarification on the two instances of Excel. Is one native and one ThinApp'ed or are both ThinApp'ed?

Author Comment

ID: 40387038
One is native and the other is ThinApp'ed.  Two conflicting third party add-ins for Excel, so this was the (hopefully) least painful solution.

Accepted Solution

Squidly_Man earned 500 total points
ID: 40392980
I did some checking with some of our VMware ThinApp support personnel (thanks to Jason B.), and technically this should work (running a ThinApp'ed Office 2010 on a system which has a native install of Office 2010) as long as both of the installations of Office 2010 (native and ThinApp package) are identical - specifically have all of the same components.  

Otherwise, this license issue can appear.

Some tips:
I would recommend testing the ThinApp package on a computer where the native install of Office 2010 does not exist (nor ever has).
Test the native install of the ThinApp package on a system and ensure it works properly.  To do this go to a computer where Office 2010 was never installed, use ThinApp 5.1 to extract the ThinApp package to native and execute it.  It should run fine and activate correctly.
NOTE: This is done by using ThinApp's new Project to Physical feature.
Next close the native install of Excel and launch the ThinApp package of Excel.  From what I'm told, this should run correctly.
Redo the above steps but launch in reverse order (launch the ThinApp package first and close then launch the native instance and see if it works correctly.

The above should tell you if there are any conflicts between the two.

TIP:  Use VMware Fusion or Workstation or vSphere to fire up a clean VM and ensure there is a snapshot of the VM in a clean build state you can role back to.

I'm guessing you already have a VMware Workstation license (comes with ThinApp) but incase you do not, please direct message me with your email address if you need an eval licenses of VMware Fusion or VMware Workstation.

Also, if you haven't already, please do give VMware Support a call and open a support case.  Assuming you have active VMware Service and Support (SNS) on Horizon 6 with View or ThinApp or Workstation, they should provide support for free.

Author Comment

ID: 40415674
Thank you very much for the feedback!  I had tried the package on a totally clean Win7 desktop and the same inconsistency persisted.

I was finally able to get it fairly stable in the dual-office environment by doing the following:
Create a clean Windows 7 box.
Take a pre-install capture.
Install Office and let it auto-activate.
Open Excel to confirm it is active.
Close Excel.
Open Excel again and CHANGE THE KEY but just re-enter the same KMS key that it used previously.
Re-activate Office.
Make changes according to the links previously discussed.
Take a post-install capture and generate the package.
Test on a user machine.

Of course now that I have all of that done... they decided that they want full dedicated virtual desktops after all. :(

Again, thank you for all of your assistance!


Expert Comment

ID: 40416250
Glad to hear you solved the issue!  Don't discount the work done on the package - make sure you keep the project. You may find it comes in handy later. ;-)  You never know when you may need a package of Office to work - especially if you migrate to the next version of Office but need the older version for a few one-off scenarios.  Also, with VMware's recent announcement on the acquisition of CloudVolumes, you may find the two technologies work very well together if you decide to explore it's use.

Best of luck!

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