Microsoft privately testing Office 2010 streaming-download model

Microsoft privately testing Office 2010 streaming-download model

Summary: Microsoft has invited selected testers to try out a new way of delivering Office 2010 to customers using virtualization and streaming technologies. Microsoft made test code available for what it's calling the "Microsoft Office 2010 Click-To-Run Technical Preview Program."


Microsoft has invited selected testers to try out a new way of delivering Office 2010 to customers using virtualization and streaming technologies.

Microsoft made test code available for what it's calling the "Microsoft Office 2010 Click-To-Run Technical Preview Program for Home, Student and Small Business Consumers" to hand-picked testers last week.

The testers are being provided with access to the consumer test version of certain Office 2010 desktop applications -- specifically Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote -- delivered electronically.

I asked Microsoft for more information about the Click-To-Run test program and received the following statement from a spokesperson via e-mail:

"Click-to-Run is a new mechanism for delivering rich client software over the internet, and will be used to greatly improve the Office trial-delivery experience via our Electronic Software Distribution (ESD) infrastructure. Click-to-Run utilizes core Microsoft streaming and virtualization technology, as well as new Office innovation, to significantly reduce the time required for users to download Office 2010. At this time, only Office Home and Student 2010 and Office Home and Business 2010 will be available via Click-to-Run and we are starting the testing of this delivery mechanism as part of the Office 2010 technical preview program."

Microsoft kicked off its Office 2010 Technical Preview test program in mid-July. The company is expected to deliver the final Office 2010 product to market in the May/June 2010 timeframe. Microsoft has said there will be five Office 2010 versions. The Home and Student and Home and Business (SMB) SKUs mentioned above are two of them.

I've heard from a couple of testers who've been trying out Click-To-Run that the promises of reduced download time are so far just that: promises. Some testers say they are having trouble with download speed and are being disconnected before their downloads are complete.

According to Microsoft-supplied Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) documentation, the Click-To-RUn program is designed to stream the Office bits to users' PCs and install them once. Afer the bits are streamed, the Office product remains on users' machines, even when they are disconnected from the Web.

The Windows team has been dabbling with "streaming" as a way of delivering bits to users via the Microsoft App-V technology that is part of its Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). Last fall, Microsoft execs said they planned to tweak App-V to allow streaming of 64-bit applications by 2010.

I'm not clear whether these two different ways of "streaming" apps -- the Office 2010 Click-To-Run and the App-V streamng technology ultimately will have anything to do with one another. Microsoft officials have said the goal of App-V is to enable admins to make a single image of Office or another app available to multiple users by pushing it out to them, avoiding the need to "touch" each desktop. So maybe that is the "virtualization" technology the Microsoft spokesperson referred when describing Click-To-Run...

Update: Don Retallack, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, said it may, indeed, be Microsoft's App-V technology that's being tested here.

"While I’m not 100% certain that it’s the normal App-V, or maybe a modified version, the Click-to-Run software installs a 'Virtualized Application Manager' into the Start menu, and a Program Files/Microsoft Application Virtualization Client/ folder. The folder contains programs with descriptions like 'Microsoft Application Virtualization Launcher' and 'Microsoft Application Virtualization Compression Utilities' and they appear to handle SFT files, a format used by App-V."

Any Office 2010 Click-To-Run testers have more to share here?

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, Software


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • CTR Inferior So Far

    After installing CTR on my Windows 7 machine, I can say that this installation method so far is inferior to a single downloaded .exe installation for Office. Installing each EXE piecemeal as you require to run them instead of a one-time thing for all of it overly complicates things and appears prone to error. I became quite frustrated when I'd install, Word for example, and as it opened would freeze multiple times as it appeared to be downloading Word components AS it was opening the document in Word, which slowed it down considerably and generally didn't seem to offer any advantage over traditional installation methods. This also happened when I later tried opening an Excel file, once again going through the slow download process as it got the bits to complete the tasks I asked of it. Overall, CTR seems DOA so far, but maybe others have had more positive experiences with it.
    • Your having problems with a product that is a year away from release?? OHNO

      So your testing a technology preview (a.k.a. beta) which is about a year away from release and your having problems. And the product is DOA? Maybe the delivery system is on a slow connection as its not released yet or possibly your still using a 56k modem. But thanks for your insightfull analysis and prediction of failure.

      Of course I dont blame you for this misunderstanding, as the media tends to look at any MS "beta" or tech preview and automatically predicts doom because it didnt work as they wanted, irrelevent of the fact that its a BETA and isnt finished at the time.

      • Give it a rest, please

        Poster just posted his opinion of an early test product <i>which he actually tried</i>. That means that this can not just be dismissed as trolling, knee-jerk anti-MS reaction.

        I hate the braindead MS bashing usually going on here, but this was not anything such.

        I found it interesting and poster also realized (and said as much) that others could have better experiences.

    • Wrong application of technology

      The problem is that Microsoft is applying it to a situation where it isn't
      mature yet; if this was offered via an 'Office Server' that a company can
      have on their network then I could see it working where there is one
      centralised installation and can be updated without disrupting end users
      or complications because an end user has turned off their desktop.

      Until there is a fibre connection to every home - this technology seems to
      be a product looking for a problem.
      • Bingo -

        That's just it.

        MS is aiming for the Corporate Environment here, even-though it's
        the SOHO/Student edition, this go-around. One problem, you have to
        have an opening in the corporate firewall for it to work in it's current
        rendition. In my case it will only work at home. Imagine at home I will
        not have to ever-ever worry about updates or service packs with this
        edition. MS will take care of that on their servers with the updates
        applying as I run it.

        I have fiber at home, and think it works nicely. I did not experience
        huge delays and frankly appreciate the smaller foot-print do to the
        fact I do not use all functions of the full suit. A delay at startup is

        Also at this time it is not compatible with MS-Grid technology,
        because that's exactly what it is using, and it steps on grid bits already
        installed. This is a feature and not a bug. What this means is that if
        your company has Software Assurance, and uses grid technology to
        deploy software you have no need for this version as you are already

        I think the best advantage/use of this version is on a virtual machine,
        where you have limited space and only require the bits you use and
        not the whole thing.

        This version is compatible with other versions of MS Office, and other
        apps within the MS Office 2010 suit that are not apart of the C2R

        I think it is very slick and am excited about it.
  • RE: Microsoft privately testing Office 2010 streaming-download model

    In the process of streaming my download. Will post a few thoughts here when I am done.
  • RE: Microsoft privately testing Office 2010 streaming-download model

    I'm having a pretty positive experience with CTR. Download times haven't seemed to interrupt my pace of work. If this is the first externally tested build, then I think they are on target to release a solid product next spring.
  • RE: Microsoft privately testing Office 2010 streaming-download model

    I'm surprised nobody is mentioning one of the biggest
    advantages of the virtualized delivery method:
    Conflict-free side-by-side installation.

    I am running the Click-to-run Office 2010 Technical
    Preview side-by-side with my regular Office 2007
    installation, and there are no conflicts or issues at
    all, even alternating between Outlook 2007 and 2010
    works fine.

    I am running it on top of Windows 7 RC x64, so I have
    been wondering as well whether they included some of
    those 64 bit App-V bits or how the virtualization
    aspect is handled in Office 2010. Also, I noticed that
    it created a Microsoft Office Virtual folder that
    contains the products, so the Click-to-run aspect is
    not completely transparent in its current shape. I am
    assuming this will change for the final release.

    Outlook 2010 has definitely seen most of the
    improvements. I like how in Windows 7 in the Start
    Menu it has the little drop down with recently opened
    attachments, Outlook 2007 didn't do that obviously. I
    am sure these product improvements have been covered
    in other posts at great length already, though.

    If you have any further questions on the Click-to-run
    tech preview, feel free to tweet @Sertelegger.
  • So far I tink CTR works well...

    Although there is obviously some room to grow and far as performance goes but I'm sure this won't be an issue by the time it makes Beta2.

    CTR works quite well for me but I think for novice users a progress bar would have been a good indication for the install progress. I had to open the App V installer window to be able to visually see the instillation process.

    Sertelegger's point that the side-by-side instillation appears to have no issues is an important point. I had removed Office 2007 just to minimize the conflicts.

    Anyways for a preview of Office 14 I'm happy with what I see. Hopefully we'll see newer builds sooner than later.

  • MIT programming
  • RE: Microsoft privately testing Office 2010 streaming-download model

    I think MS is preparing people for things to come. This is a ploy to achieve true leasing licenses software. You will only stream-download a portion of the software and the remainder will remain on their servers. Basically the core of the program remains with them and you will interface with it. Designers intending to customize and share or sell their add-ons work will be left out in the cold. This completes the software manufactures strangle hold. Just like satellite television and cell phones just to name a few. The companies control every aspect of their product and no need for pesky copyrights.

    Now all they need to do is charge 10% less than the full version and a sleazy TV personality. So much for open source software.
  • Seems more about control than really giving customers anything tangible...

    Then again, what else is new?

    I wonder what happens when a large company nixes a Microsoft contract and Microsoft activates the kill switch to render their licensed (read, "rented") copies unusable... or if Microsoft summarily decides to nix a contract... forgive my wandering into tangent territory...
    • Full control can be retained

      A "large customer" would run an Office installation and streaming the apps from there. No need to use MS' cloud services in that case.
  • RE: Microsoft privately testing Office 2010 streaming-download model

    It's working great for me. Very quick install, running side by side with Office 2007. Maybe people reporting problems are running over a slow internet connection.
  • RE: Microsoft privately testing Office 2010 streaming-download model

    Check out the Office Facebook page for tons of helpful resources to help you use all the features of your Office programs. You can post your questions to the Wall and get help directly from Microsoft or discuss your concerns and preferences on the Wall!

    MSFT Office Outreach Team
  • RE: Microsoft privately testing Office 2010 streaming-download model

    Part of the proiblem that Office 2010 CTR faces is twofold:

    1. It is inferior in application speed to a traditional Office 2010 (32-bit) install, and trails Office 2010 (64-bit) even further.

    2. Despite the fact that it uses application virtualization (not OS virtualization) and does not require hardware assistance, it still is not locally-installed (CTR does not have what is still called the *kitchen-sink install* option that traditional Office does, and which many users, and network admins, prefer).

    I'm in the CTR private beta (and the traditional-install beta as well), and I mainly recommend CTR for optical-drive-starved (or always-connected) devices, such as netbooks and still-extant legacy/refurbished laptops being used in the netbook role. However, if you have a laptop/notebook with a DVD drive *and* have at least 2 GB of RAM (or can upgrade to same) and have Windows 7 in your future plans, I'd go with the traditional Office 2010 (and 64-bit at that).