Microsoft Office 2016 Click-to-Run vs. Microsoft Installer - Which to Choose?

By Kurt Mayer| April 01, 2016

MS Office 2016 has become the new default installer for Office 365 ProPlus edition. Under the new “Servicing Channels/Branches” Microsoft introduced in Windows 10, updates can only be deferred for so long before they become required in order to stay supported by Microsoft in today’s cloud-first IT world. Thus, it is time to start thinking about how to get yourself upgraded to Microsoft Office 2016 in order to ensure your organization is prepared for this eventuality. This is, if you’re not already rolling it out!


There’s been some licensing changes in how MS Office can and should be deployed.  Specifically, choosing between Click-To-Run (C2R) or Microsoft Installer (MSI).  Which is the better fit?  BDO Digital can help you determine which is the right choice for your organization.


The new generation Click-To-Run (C2R) installer is the option most organizations will likely use in their MS Office deployment strategies going forward.  This media is provided by Office 365 as part of the subscription and accessible to end-users via the Software Page. Administrators can stage this install in bulk on the local network using the Office 2016 Deployment Tool (ODT) or construct and App-V package for it.

Click-To-Run is licensed on a per-user basis and each user may install the software on up to 5 devices; activations are processed and tracked in the O365 cloud every 30 days.  It requires an active subscription to O365, but higher-priced SKUs at the E3 or greater level are typically needed to unlock certain programs and user rights.  The core suite always includes: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and Publisher.

Office 365 Versions

Office 365 (O365) has gone through many transformations over the years. With each new version, new features are introduced to improve business collaboration and productivity. Not only will upgrading to the E3 or E5 unlock certain programs and user rights, these version can also offer communication and cloud services that are becoming required in order to stay competitive and enable your business to grow.

Office 365 Add-On Applications


The traditional Microsoft Installer (MSI) has been the delivery vehicle of choice for all previous versions of MS Office, and is still an option for upgrading.  It offers a wide range of customization during the install process via transform patches. This installer includes all productivity applications including Visio and Project, plus VDI rights.

The downside of Microsoft Installer is that it is only available at the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center for organizations that have an Enterprise Agreement with Software Assurance on Office. The licensing model for this SKU is per-device.  Activations are managed in-house via a local KMS server on the LAN, or MAK keys for labs or when devices are not connected regularly to the internet.

Important: the MSI and C2R versions of MS Office 2016 cannot be installed side-by-side on the same machine.  The setup process will block the action; one or the other will have to be removed before proceeding.  Thus it is recommended to use a tool like System Center Configuration Manager to coordinate the deployment, removing old versions and rolling out the new in a controlled fashion.


BDO Digital is a Microsoft Gold Partner and specializes in deploying secure cloud and hybrid environments. We have extensive knowledge in Microsoft Office 2016 deployments and can customize a solution to fit your needs. Contact BDO Digital to learn more.

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