A customer recently purchased a volume license for Microsoft Outlook 2010, and though it's possible to configure the product key and activation in advance with various deployment toolkits, we didn't know this and are now faced with having to activate each version separately at each desktop.
Entering the product key is tedious but at least straightforward, but by default Office 2010 only allows an administrative user to activate the product - a limited user cannot. This seems unfriendly, but I suppose makes sense as it allows the network's administrator to decide on administrative-y policies like this.
It's possible to do a right-click + Run As Administrator to launch the product and activate that way, but this operates in the Admin's profile (rather than the user's) and forces a bunch of additional setup just to allow activation. This is unfriendly.
Even better is to deploy a registry setting that changes this default, and it's documented in this Microsoft KB article. We wanted to deploy the required registry key and value via Group Policy, and this required creating a .ADM file that contained the details.
Note: This is probably something found in the Office 2010 administrative templates, but we didn't really look for this until after I created this ADM file, and the learning value of having created the template seemed useful enough to document.
These procedures were tested with XP/SP3 desktops and an SBS2003 server; I imagine it will work fine with anything newer than this.
Creating the GP template
Start by creating a simple file C:\bin\officeactivation.adm (you can put it where you like, named anything you want), containing:
; Enable limited users to activate Office 2010 [email@example.com 2012/02/09] CLASS MACHINE CATEGORY "Office Activation" POLICY "Limited User can activate" EXPLAIN !!ModeHelp KEYNAME Software\Microsoft\OfficeSoftwareProtectionPlatform PART !!Mode_Configure DROPDOWNLIST REQUIRED VALUENAME UserOperations ITEMLIST NAME !!Disabled VALUE NUMERIC 0 DEFAULT NAME !!Enabled VALUE NUMERIC 1 END ITEMLIST END PART END POLICY END CATEGORY [strings] Enabled="Enabled (Limited user can activate)" Disabled="Disabled (Only admin can activate)" Mode_Configure="Set limited user activation mode:" ModeHelp="This configures whether a limited user is permitted to activate Office products"
With this file saved, open the Group Policy Management Editor and create a new GPO. I called it "MyCompany Office Policy"; I always include the name of the company in any new GP objects so they appear as obviously not from Microsoft, and I tend to make lots of little special purpose GPOs rather than put them in a single monolithic object.
- Edit the newly-created GPO
- Navigate to Computer Configuration
- Right-click on Administrative Templates and select Add/Remove Templates... from the context menu
- Click Add and navigate to the location of the officeactivate.adm file you created
- Close the dialog once it's added
- Tell the Group Policy Object Editor that it should allow access to custom policies:
- Right-click on Administrative Templates again and select View » Filtering....
- UNCHECK the [_] Only show policy settings that can be fully managed
- Doubleclick "Limited user can activate" and set whatever value you like
- Save the the policy
Making it so
Once you've entered this into group policy, you can either wait a few hours to allow GP to update itself, or you can go to each workstation indepdently. At the command line, you can run GPUPDATE to get this setting to update immediately (no /FORCE option should be necessary), and the ability for a user to activate takes effect as soon as the registry updates: no logout or reboot has been required.