Our research on Office 2019 and Windows 10 October 2018 Update RTM status

THIS ARTICLE IS CONTINUOUSLY UPDATED …

While Microsoft Ignite is taking place this year, teams behind the most popular software duo by the Redmond giant are preparing the release of their next big updates: Windows 10 October 2018 Update (AKA the final Redstone 5 build) and Office 2019.

DISCLAIMER: This article is nothing like those you expect from the typical portals or blogs, as we are not gonna repeat the same change logs and screenshots. Instead, this write-up involves snooping around update servers and scavenging through builds and tools to get the inside news.

Office 2019

word-2019

The official announcement by Microsoft went live yesterday, September 24.

What did Microsoft announce on September 24, 2018?

Office 2019 is now available as a one-time purchase for commercial users. It is available for both Windows and macOS, and includes classic versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

The Windows version also includes Publisher 2019, Access 2019, Project 2019, and Visio 2019. Office 2019 applications don’t receive feature updates but do receive regular security and stability updates.

To clarify more, the development and distribution of Office are now split into the following channels:

  • Monthly Channel ( = Retail / RTM )
  • Insider Channel ( = Office Insider Fast )
  • Monthly Channel Targeted ( = Office Insider Slow )
  • Semi-Annual Channel ( = Business )
  • Semi-Annual Channel Targeted ( = Business Insider )

There are tons of development distributions – some of them are public, some are strictly meant for internal usage. By sniffing through those distributions, couple of users from My Digital Life forums were able to get the RTM release on Monthly Channel of Office 2019, as early as on September 22.

The concerned builds were updated on 2019-09-09 and the version is 1808 (build 16.0.10730.20102). A compiled list of the permanent links to the images of installation media is also available but only en-us and jp-jp ones are live till today.

An interesting point is the retirement of MSI (Windows Installer) technology.

Traditionally, the Office distribution intended for volume license holders come packed with MSI, while the retail one started transitioning to click-to run (also called C2R) since Office 2010.

But this scenario is changed as Microsoft is now limiting the use of MSI only to Office Server products. This also means the perpetual release of Office, much like Adobe Creative Cloud lineup.

As a matter of fact, the volume licenses are already part of the unified Office installation, and need to installed as per requirements. For sysadmins, the Volume License Pack and GVLKs for KMS/Active Directory-based activation are live too.

For macOS, the guys over MacAdmins have already covered it out.

P.S: Microsoft officially states that Office 2019 is only supported under Windows 10 (and Server 2019), but we all know what they actually mean. 😛

office-2019-windows7-new

Click/tap to view full size (Image courtesy: [email protected] forums)

Windows 10 October 2018 Update

On September 18, Microsoft announced Insider Preview build 17763 on the RS5 branch. Dona and Brandon didn’t forget to include the homely warning “The build watermark at the lower right-hand corner of the desktop is no longer present in this build. This doesn’t mean we’re done…”.

brandon-not-done

Click/tap to view full size

Insiders around the world and enthusiasts started speculating about the RTM candidate as the list of known issues was surprisingly small. It did strengthen the believe, when the next insider build on 19H1 branch (AKA build 18242) came on the same date with same list of issues, which means RS5 is feature complete with build 17763.

On September 23, abbodi1406 on My Digital Forums discovered that WindowsUpdateBox.exe got public permalinks for build 17763. This discovery leads to the fact that Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool will eventually support this build.

It still lacked (at that time) the permanent links of the ESD (Electronic Software Distribution) files, which are highly compressed and encrypted packages of Windows installation media.

On September 25 (today), abbodi1406 strikes again, spotting the URL of the products.xml containing the links to ESD files. He is also kind enough to strip the XML tags and list the ESD files.

It can be possible to use them via Media Creation Tool or more conveniently, the open source solution by abbodi1406 himself (esd-decrypter).

As a bonus, readers have the opportunity to play with the ARM64 builds.

In the past, build 17133 showed all the likeliness to be RS4 RTM, but demoted back due to few show stopper bugs while upgrading. Later, build 17134 was published and eventually became RS4 RTM.

Given that the same will likely not happen again, 17763 is certainly RTM. 🙂

 

Update 1 (September 26): Regarding Office 2019 images, these new languages are live now: ar-sa, bg-bg, cs,cz, da-dk, de-de, el-gr, es-es, et-et, fi-fi, fr-fr (Credit: abbodi1406)

Update 2 (September 26): The direct link to the products.xml is down, though ESD files can still be downloaded. Is 17763 pulled back? (Credit: abbodi1406)

Update 3 (September 27): Media Creation Tool for Windows 10 1809 AKA October 2018 Update is live now, though the products.cab link is still pointing towards 1803 AKA April 2018 Update. (Credit: abbodi1406)

NOTE: We don’t condone piracy by any means. All the URLs mentioned here are publicly available. Users need to hold appropriate licenses to use them. Windows 10 and Office 2019 are registered trademarks of Microsoft.

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Kingshuk De

I came from a mixed background of Statistics and Computer Science. My research domains included embedded computer systems, mobile computing and delay tolerant networks in post-disaster scenarios. Apart from tinkering with gadgets or building hackintosh, I like to hop on various subreddits and forums like MyDigitalLife and XDA.