Office 365 with App-V

Office 365 uses a new installation technology named ‘Click-to-Run’ that shares it roots with App-V and the new App-X application model. In fact you will notice that they use very similar folder structures, for example:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\VFS\ProgramFilesX86

Also if you view the running process for Word for example in Sysinternals Process Explorer, in the bottom pane that shows the loaded dlls you will see AppVIsvSubsystems32.dll (App-V uses AppVEntSubsystems32.dll).

A common scenario in App-V deployments is to have Office installed locally, then virtualise add-ins either by creating separate shortcuts to launch each Office app with each add-in, or use RunVirtual to drag them kicking and screaming into a virtual environment with the required add-ins. Most folks simply do not virtualise their core install of Office, since if you come across an add-in or other application that requires Office but has problems with App-V, you might have to roll back the whole solution and install Office natively.

This is all well and good, unless you are using a copy of Office installed from the Click-to-Run source, which is all editions of Office 365, and the retail copy of Office 2016 (or at least the one available from MSDN). Perhaps because the Office applications hook the competing AppVIsvSubsystems32.dll, it does not seem to possible to launch these applications ‘in the bubble’.

I ran into this issue a couple of years ago:

https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/86103a0c-f33b-47b4-a7f9-1490d6700313/virtualizing-an-office-addin-with-office-365-installed-possible?forum=mdopappv

I advised the client at the time to remove Office 365 and install the volume license media for Office 2013, which resolved the issue. I came across this again at another client recently. However they were informed by Microsoft that the Click-To-Run media was the only option for them with their Office 365 subscription! Which reduces their options down to these:

  • Virtualise Office, easy enough to do by converting the Click-To-Run source to App-V format using the Microsoft provided documentation, then pray that all of your apps that need Office also play nice with App-V.
  • Keep Office 365 installed and forget about virtualising any apps that contain Office add-ins or that need to be able to launch Office apps in their own virtual environments to work.

I’m surprised to not have seen many complaints on this, although I expect to see more as more as enterprises sign up to Office 365!

12 responses on “Office 365 with App-V

  1. Andrew G

    Thanks for the information Dan! This was very helpful, glad you posted this.

  2. Andrew G

    As a follow up, it seems there is some good news. 5.1 HF4 does offer some fixes (although they are undocumented), and also there is a registry key suggested by MS:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\ClickToRun\OverRide
    keyname=AllowJitvInAppvVirtualizedProcess (reg_dword)
    keyvalue=1
    In the above the key is 64 bit but its possible its supposed to match office bitness.

    Again this seems to be undocumented, I can say that in HF1 I got exactly what you saw. With HF4 and the reg key, the same package is now working with O365 2016 64 bit. At this point I can’t say if the reg key is needed but HF4 is a must (from my testing and reading).

    Hopefully this information helps!

    1. I’ve been told about this registry key also – I’ll do some testing to verify it and update the post if it works!

  3. Amit

    Hi Dan,

    I am in the process of testing office com addin with office click to run and wanted to know if hf4 and registry key is allowing now for appv 5.1 packages to interact with office c2r ? Appreciate your advice on this

    1. Yes, it appears to work and I know a few people now using it live. Microsoft are supporting it since they’ve offered this key as a fix on a public KB article for another issue with Skype for Business. I’ll be updating the main post soon, but my advice would be to go for it, just make sure you test!

      1. Amit

        thanks Dan for your reply. I am trying now to virtualise .xla based addin which come up with OPEN Keys.
        I read about creating dummy package and import custom .reg file containing these OPEN key in correct order. How do I maintain correct order considering all separate excel addin when seuqnced will come up with OPEN key itself ?
        And then use connection group in conjunction with runvirtual to make these .xla based addin work properly. Looking forward for your advice on this.

  4. Naveen Rachapalli

    I am trying to create a APP-V sequence for Word add-in on windows 10 anniversary edition with Office 365 locally installed. This add-in has VSTO 2010 dependency and it is a COM add-in. When tested on APP-V client machine the add-in tries to load but fails during startup. When I checked in the Word->File->Options->Addins, my add-in is listing under “Inactive Application Add-ins”. I am using RunVirtual and ClickToRun registry keys also. Does anyone know how to make VSTO add-ins work?

    Below are my software versions:

    ——————————————-

    Sequencer: 5.1

    Client: 5.2

    OS: Win 10 1607 (anniversary edition)

    Office: Office 365 ProPlus Version 1609 (Build 7369.2120)

    1. Try setting up the add-in to install for all users by registering under HKLM and adding the vstolocal suffix?

      https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb386106.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396
      https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc442767.aspx

      I’ve not hit any issues where I’ve had to modify any add-in registrations like that though, but it’s worth a shot.

    2. Aside from converting the add-in from per-user Click-Once to a per-machine install using the vstolocal suffix, your other option would be to remove the exception to %LOCALAPPDATA% during sequencing so that you can capture the add-in that gets deployed to the user profile when activated. However I’m not sure if the random folder name generated under here will change when deployed to a different machine or user, that would have to be tested.

  5. Jorn Seubers

    Attempted to package an Add-In for ClickToRun Outlook 2016 with App-V 5.1 HF 7.
    A VSTO (2010) installed for ALLUSERS from an MSI package, with a couple of DLL’s.
    We use a Terminal Server 2012 environment. The “AllowJitvInAppvVirtualizedProcess” regkey is set to allow App-V and Office to hold hands.

    First of all, the sequencer places the DLL-registration of the Add-In in the wrong place in the registry (because in the virtual registry of Office, instead of the HKCR\Classes), so this has to be resolved manually.
    What’s worse however; starting Outlook through a shortcut from within the virtual environment of the App-V continuous to produce a “script error” in Outlook (even from within an otherwise empty App-V). Furthermore VBA-developer-tools don’t work in Outlook started from App-V, while they function locally. Only disabling the registry of the App-V package resolves both issues.
    In other words, this specific ClickToRun installation of Outlook 2016 doesn’t know how to deal with the virtual registry of an app-v package, even if it is empty. No workaround found.

  6. Jasper Randall

    As well as the AllowJitvInAppvVirtualizedProcess reg key and updating the App-V client to HF4 (or newer) I needed to copy the hive [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\ClickToRun] to [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\WOW6432node\Microsoft\Office\ClickToRun

  7. Jasper Randall

    HF9 is looking very promising for us

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