Best Automated Deployment method?
We are planning to update from our current version of Office (2003) to Office 2007, ready for September 2009. Previously we have just upgraded to new versions of Office over the Summer and it hasn't affected users very much.
But as the interface has changed radically we thought that we would install it along side the existing version (possible this week half term week), thus allowing staff to try it out, before removing the older version before September. We are also arranging staff development sessions at the end of June, to allow staff to familiarise themselves with the new look/feel.
We have about 450 PC and 80 laptops, across 4 sites to do. I am just wondering how other Schools/Colleges are planning to do the upgrade? For those that have already taken this step, how did it go? What were the issues?
My plan was to copy an an MSI version of the install (with SP2 slipstreamed) to a server at each site, and to create an MST file, and use these as the Group Policy install points for each site (as we'd done for our previous upgrades). However, I've now read some MS articles (e.g. the white paper on office 2007 deployment) which recommends against using Group Policy for Deployment, and to use Systems Management Server instead. Having not used SMS before, and with limited time and I'd prefere to use Group Policy. However, it must be able to:
- Include SP2 in the deployment
- Install alongside the existing version
- Some minimal customisation parameters
What would people recommend? Go with GP deployment or spend some time learning SMS and do it that way?
Also, in our tests there appeared to be some issues with installing Office 2007 (affecting stability of Office/Windows), but it the test PCs weren't on any SP, and the PCs weren't fully patched (either Windows or Office 2003). However, they soon will be.
Any tips/advice much appreciated :)