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Force upgrade to Office 2016 apps when using Office 365 Education/University/etc

posted Jan 30, 2016, 11:36 AM by Jingshan Du
Now that students and faculty members in major US universities and colleges have got MS Office 365 Education subscription, many of you may found that you are still getting the "out-dated" Office 2013 apps rather than the newest Office 2016 suite. The reason is that by default, the update branch for the educational subscriptions is a slower and more stable one called "Current Branch for Business".

Microsoft maintains three different update branches or channels for Office 365. As explained in the TechNet, features in the Current Branch for Business get updated every four months. This means that if the IT manager in your school did not change the updating settings, you will get office 2016 at the end of the first Quarter in 2016.

However there is a way to bypass the administrative setting and install or upgrade your Office programs to the 2016 version. This is done by the "Office Deployment Tool" offered by Microsoft to IT professionals. Although there is a long TechNet article explaining how to use this little program (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj219423.aspx), we can do it in a very simplified way.

1. Download the Office 2016 Deployment Tool at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49117.
2. Run the downloaded file. It will just unpack two files to the destination you choose.
3. Navigate to the location of these files. Open the configuration.xml file with a text editor.
4. You will see the <Add OfficeClientEdition...> stuff. Modify the OfficeClientEdition to 64 if you wish to install the 64-bit edition. Below that line you will see two <Product ID...> terms. These are the programs that will be installed. Mostly we only have Office 365 ProPlus, so leave the first product intact, and delete the second <Product...> to </Product> contents which indicates Visio, another Office component sold separately. Save the file.
5. Open a command line (cmd) at the location of these files. Run
Setup.exe /configure
.Then wait and start using your new Office apps!

Note: a complete reference for how to edit the configuration.xml file can be found at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj219426.aspx.

Example configuration.xml that installs 64-bit Office 2016 ProPlus:
<Configuration>
  <Add OfficeClientEdition="64" Branch="Current">
    <Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail">
      <Language ID="en-us" />
    </Product>
  </Add>
</Configuration>
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