At the WWDC 2018 keynote, Apple announced partnerships with more third-party software developers to bring their apps to the Mac App Store. Notable in that list were Microsoft (Office) and Adobe (Lightroom CC). On January 24, Microsoft announced the Microsoft Office apps for macOS were published on the Mac App Store. As more macOS applications move to the Mac App Store, it is critical administrators understand Workspace ONE capabilities supporting Mac App Store app distribution. This post uses Microsoft Office for Mac to demonstrate how Workspace ONE administrators can deploy and maintain Mac App Store apps.

Note: This article assumes an administrator has already uploaded a Volume Purchase Server Token from an Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager location.

Purchase Office Licenses in Apple Business Manager


The first step in deploying Microsoft Office for macOS is to purchase managed distribution licenses in Apple Business Manager (or Apple School Manager). Administrators should purchase a more-than-adequate number of the free Microsoft Office application licenses. This eliminates the need to constantly make new purchases as an organization grows.

Once you log-in to Apple Business Manager, perform the following steps to purchase licenses (Figure 1):

  1. Click on Apps and Books
  2. Click the filter button to the right of the search bar – choose Type and MacOS
  3. Enter Microsoft as the search term
  4. Select one of the Microsoft Office applications (in the animated gif above, we chose Microsoft Word)
  5. Under the Buy Licenses section, choose your location token, enter a quantity of license, and click Get
  6. Confirm the purchase by clicking OK
  7. Once the Buy Licenses section resets, the licenses have been purchased.
  8. Repeat the process and purchase free licenses for the remaining Microsoft Office apps (Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Powerpoint, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft OneNote, and OneDrive)

Sync Office Licenses to Workspace ONE UEM


With licenses purchased, the next step in the deployment process is to sync the newly purchased licenses into Workspace ONE UEM. This process happens automatically on a set schedule, but this article demonstrates the process to force the sync to happen immediately. By syncing the licenses, administrators bring awareness of those licenses to Workspace ONE so that licenses can be assigned to new/existing devices, kept up-to-date, and reclaimed/redistributed when devices are wiped.

Perform the following steps (Figure 2) once logged-in to the Workspace ONE UEM console:

  1. Click on Apps & Books > Applications > Native
  2. Click on the Purchased tab
  3. Click Filters and select Apple macOS
  4. Click Sync Assets, then click OK
  5. Click the Refresh button to view the updated list of Volume-Purchased macOS applications (including the Microsoft Office for Mac applications).

Assign Microsoft Office Applications to Devices


Since Workspace ONE is now managing the licenses, administrators can then enable those licenses for device-based assignment. This allows Workspace ONE to deliver licensed apps from the Mac App Store without the user needing an Apple ID. Additionally, administrators can elect to deploy the apps on-demand (e.g. user-selected from the catalog) or automatically (as is typical for an organization standard application).

While still logged in to the Workspace ONE UEM console, perform the following steps as shown in Figure 3:

  1. Click on the application name (such as Microsoft Word)
  2. Click Enable Device Assignment and click OK
  3. Click Save & Assign
  4. Click Add Assignment
  5. Click Add Assignment and select the Assignment Group you want to target
  6. Change the Allocated number to match the licenses you purchased
  7. Set the Deployment Type to Auto or On Demand and click Save
  8. Click Save and Publish and then Publish

NOTE:  If a subset of users require traditional volume licensing (not Office 365 subscriptions) or Insider Preview feature-sets, administrators must create Assignment Groups that provide exclusion from the Mac App Store app assignment. Admins would then use the same assignment group providing exclusion from the App Store assignment as the targeted assignment group for the Native > Internal applications. The need for this differentiation is covered in the Microsoft documentation (linked below in additional resources).

Update Microsoft Office for Mac


Workspace ONE periodically checks the Mac App Store and notifies administrators when new application versions are available. This allows administrators to choose when Workspace ONE triggers application updates on managed devices. To reduce administrative burden, Workspace ONE can also automatically perform updates to Mac App Store applications as they become available.

To configure applications for automatic update, perform the following:

  1. Select one or more applications you’ve enabled for Device Assignment
  2. Click Enable Auto Updates
  3. Click OK
  4. Note the green checkmark in the Auto Update column
  5. Workspace ONE UEM automatically requests application updates when an update is available.

If not using automatic updates, the process is slightly different:

  1. Select an application you’ve enabled for Device Assignment
  2. Click Update App
  3. Workspace ONE requests devices perform an update to the current version.

Additional Considerations

Just a few additional items for consideration when distributing volume-purchased Mac App Store applications:

  • When deploying free volume-purchased Mac App Store applications, consider purchasing more licenses than required. This allows organizations to grow without having to continuously purchase more licenses in Apple Business Manager. This is especially critical for organizations that allow employees to enroll multiple devices (such as bring-your-own, etc).
  • As mentioned before, the Mac App Store version of Microsoft Office for Mac is not compatible with perpetual licenses/volume licenses. It also will not support users wishing to install the insider preview builds to gain early access to beta features. In these cases you will need to deliver the apps using the process outlined in Deploying Third-Party macOS Applications.
  • Administrator should consider deploying Apple caching services in their network. This reduces bandwidth consumption on an organization’s Internet connection by allowing devices to download App Store content from a local distribution point. For more information, see Content Types That macOS Server Caching and macOS Caching Support.
  • The Mac App Store version of Microsoft Office supports the same set of preferences as the Microsoft CDN version. Use Custom XML to customize the first launch experience for the Office applications.

Key Takeaways:

As demonstrated, Workspace ONE UEM administrators should note the following key takeaways about managing Microsoft Office for Mac with Workspace ONE:

  1. VMware can deploy Microsoft Office, whether from the Mac App Store or as Native Internal (Non-Store) Applications.
  2. Deploying Mac App Store apps reduce administrative upkeep, as Workspace ONE UEM can proactively check for updates and deploy them.
  3. Workspace ONE is built with MDM capabilities at our core.
  4. Per the WWDC 2018 keynote, administrators should expect more apps in the Mac App Store. Focus on Mac App Store as a primary deployment method and leverage Content Caching.

Additional Resources for Help:

The following links will provide you more detail on deploying applications: