Microsoft's revised Resource Kit can ease Office 2013 deployment

Microsoft's free Office 2013 Resource Kit provides documentation for Office 2013 deployment, as well as for management after an Office deployment.

A Microsoft Office 2013 deployment in a large organization can be a major undertaking. Although there is nothing overly difficult about the actual installation process, a lot of planning must occur prior to an Office deployment. IT needs to determine whether there will be any compatibility problems and addresses licensing concerns.

Fortunately, administrators have some help when it comes to deploying Microsoft Office 2013. Microsoft provides the Office 2013 Resource Kit for free.

Resource kits once consisted of technical documentation that was compiled into rather large books, bundled with product-specific utilities and sold at a fairly steep price. However, the Office 2013 Resource Kit is a collection of online documentation that is specifically targeted at planning and managing Office 2013 deployments.

Office tool lists newly published content

The Office 2013 Resource Kit is divided into several sections. Microsoft routinely adds information to the Resource Kit, and the Newly Published Content section includes the most recent documentation.

The What's New section is an essential stop for those considering an Office 2013 deployment. This section outlines the Office 2013 system requirements and provides details about what has changed in this release.

For example, this section of the resource kit explains that Microsoft Access 2013 lacks the ability to open Access Data Project Files. It goes on to explain that SQL databases will replace Access Data Projects and provides three potential migration paths.

You can imagine what would happen if an organization that made extensive use of Access Data Projects blindly upgraded to Office 2013 without reading the documentation. This is just one example of the types of functionality changes that are outlined in this portion of the Office 2013 Resource Kit. Administrators should review such changes before attempting an Office 2013 deployment so as to avoid disrupting any business processes.

Compatibility

The resource kit's Compatibility section contains documentation related to the modern Office compatibility process. This process involves discovering documents and programs within the organization and validating them to ensure compatibility with Office 2013. This was previously done with tools such as the Office Environment Assessment Tool or the Office Migration Planning Manager. When working toward an Office 2013 deployment, however, Microsoft recommends using Office Telemetry and the Modern Office Compatibility Process, both of which are documented in the Compatibility section of the Office 2013 Resource Kit.

Plan and Deploy

This is another must-read section of the Resource Kit. The Plan and Deploy section covers custom installations, volume activations, localizations and compatibility for 64-bit versions of Office. It is also the place to go for information on securing Office 2013 and Office 2013-specific Group Policy settings.

Managing after an Office 2013 deployment

The Manage section addresses a lot of the same topics as the Plan and Deploy section, but it is written from a post-deployment perspective. In this section, you will find information on apps for Office 2013, Group Policy administrative templates and language packs. It also describes how to use the Office Customization Tool to modify user configurations after the deployment has been completed.

Office Anywhere and Office on Demand

The Office Anywhere section provides information on configuring user sign-in for Microsoft Office and on how you can configure roaming settings for Office 2013 users. This section also includes information on Office on Demand.

User Readiness

The User Readiness section provides links to resources designed to prepare users for Office 2013. This includes things like Quick Start guides, What's New videos, training resources and Making the Switch videos.

Glossary

The Office 2013 Resource Kit is designed for use by administrators, not end users. Like any other IT administrator's resource, it contains a lot of different technical terms. The glossary defines terms used in the documentation that some administrators might not be familiar with.

Downloadable Content

The Downloadable Content section contains a wide variety of information. This is the place where you can download things like deployment guides, management guides and whitepapers.

As you can see, the Office 2013 Resource Kit contains a wealth of information pertaining to Office 2013 deployment. Those who are working toward an Office deployment should review the critical information found in the What's New, Compatibility and Plan and Deploy sections.

This was first published in June 2013

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