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Monday, October 10, 2011

Avoiding Click-to-Run on MS Office 2010

Setting up a PC for a client, one of the things which needed to be done was to install Office 2010 Home & Student.

In this case, all that was supplied with the PC was a product key on a card, but with no instructions on the card as to how to use it (FAIL!). There is some MS Office in the pre-load image on the PC, but I was specifically re-installing from scratch to get rid of the manufacturer's crapware.

It later transpired that this was a Product Key Card — another case where you need to know the "magic" name of a thing in order to make progress.

So, it later transpired that you can go to Microsoft, and there is a page which tells you how to use a Product Key Card.

Part way through the process, it told me that the key I had was associated with a pre-loaded install. This immediately gave me a sinking feeling that they would then block me from downloading the Office install. But it turned out it was just a warning and I was able to proceed.

So I followed my nose, and ended up downloading a thing which turned out to the the beginnings of a "Click-to-Run" installation of Office 2010 Home & Student.

In summary, with Click-to-Run it pretends that you already have everything installed, and when you try to use something, if it hasn't already got it, it promply goes away and downloads just that bit. In the meantime, it downloads everything so that eventually you have it. The idea is that you can start using it straight away. Personally, I don't see it as much of a benefit. People understand that they have to download it and run it, and the problems caused by Click-to-Run tend to outweigh the touted benefits.

One problem with Click-to-Run is that it sets up a Q: drive, which is for some reason necessary for the virtualisation to run. The problem with this is that it's one more piece of weirdness for people to deal with; one more thing to explain to my client. Gee, thanks Microsoft.

I happened to have a sniff round on the subject and stumbled across a little golden nugget of information: You don't have to use Click-and-Run. You can just do a conventional download-and-install. The feature is hidden away behind a quiet "Advanced Options" button.

It's described in (my emphasis):

In order to successfully use the Office Click-to-Run version of Office Home and Business 2010 or of Office Home and Student 2010, use one of the following methods:

  • Determine which application or which hardware uses the Q: drive letter, and then move it off the Q: drive by referring to the documentation from the manufacturer or to a support channel of the manufacturer for help. After the Q: drive is made available, the installation does not display the error.
  • Download a version of Office 2010 that is not an Office Click-to-Run product. To do this, visit the site where you purchased Office 2010, and sign in by using your Live ID. Then, click My Account at the top of the home page to access your Office 2010 downloads. Click Download for the suite that you purchased, and then click Advanced Options under Download Now. A version of Office 2010 is listed that is not an Office Click-to-Run product and that does not require the Q: drive to be available.

It sounds implausible, but it actually works. You do go through "My Account", and there is an Advanced Options link, and going through there results in options for "32-bit download", "64-bit download", and "Click-to-Run". All you then need to is take the 32-bit download and it gives you a 900+ MB file, which is the complete installer for Office 2010 Home & Student. Cool.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My Dell Downloads - Beaten

Setting up a PC for a client recently, I wanted to flatten the main Windows partition and re-install from the Windows install DVD.

All the drivers can be downloaded from Dell. But some of the software is a bit more sensitive, like the CyberLink DVD playing software, and can't be downloaded. Nor it is supplied with the machine on a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM.

All is not lost however, as the CyberLink DVD playing software can be downloaded via My Dell Downloads. The website gives you a little program which verifies your machine's service tag and then lets you download the more sensitive softwares which are associated with your PC. You are, however, limited to three downloads per file.

You get a little program which downloads the files you want. Each program comes as a nice packaged Zip file.

But then we have a problem. The little program downloads the Zip files, then promptly unpacks them, then promptly deletes the Zip file!

No! I want that Zip file, because it's a nice single file which encapsulates the program. OK, I could probably make up a new Zip file, but I like having the most original version of anything.

It turns out that there is a solution. We can use the NTFS permission system to our advantage. We can change the permissions on the directory ("Documents/My Dell Downloads") so as to remove the "delete" privileges. I found two delete privileges so removed them both. If you want to do the same, your waypoints are that you need to get into the permissions dialog, then do "Advanced", then turn off inheritance, copy existing inherited rights, then remove the delete privileges from all users.

Delete privileges removed, we can now use the little program to download any files we like, and when it tries to delete the Zip file, it promptly falls over with an error, and we are left with the nice original Zip file.