Run Excel 2013 as a Windows Service with AlwaysUp

How to Run Microsoft Excel 2013 as a Windows Service with AlwaysUp

Start your MS Excel automation application (*.XLS/*.XLSX) in the background when your computer boots - no need to log on first

Excel is Microsoft's wildly popular spreadsheet software.

Note: Microsoft cautions against running any program in its Office suite as a Windows Service. However the most notable problems arise when running in the LocalSystem account and AlwaysUp can get around that. Nevertheless, please be sure to thoroughly test your setup to ensure that Excel works as expected.

To configure Excel 2013 as a Windows Service with AlwaysUp:

  1. Download and install AlwaysUp, if necessary.

  2. Start AlwaysUp.

  3. Select Application > Add to open the Add Application window:

    Add Application

  4. On the General tab:

    • In the Application field, enter the full path to the Excel executable, EXCEL.EXE. If you installed Office/Excel in the default location, this is:

      C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\EXCEL.EXE
      C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\EXCEL.EXE
      if you have a 64-bit version of Windows and installed the 32-bit version of Office/Excel.

    • In the Arguments field, enter any command line switches you have for starting Excel. For this tutorial, we'll specify the /e flag, which prevents the Excel startup screen from appearing and a new blank workbook from opening.

    • In the Name field, enter the name that you will call the application in AlwaysUp. We have specified Excel 2013 but you can enter almost anything you like.

    Excel 2013 Windows Service: General Tab

  5. Click over to the Logon tab and enter the user name and password of the account in which you installed and configured Excel (or Office) 2013. Excel must run in this account so that it can find its configuration & settings.

    Excel 2013 Windows Service: Logon Tab

  6. And if Excel will be accessing a cloud drive or some other network-based repository, move to the Startup tab and check the Ensure that the Windows networking components have started box. This will guarantee that the network is ready when Excel starts as the PC boots.

    Excel 2013 Windows Service: Startup Tab

  7. We are now done configuring Excel so click the Save button to record the settings. In a couple of seconds, an application called Excel 2013 will show up in the AlwaysUp window. It is not yet running though.

    Excel 2013 Windows Service: Created

  8. To start Excel 2013, choose Application > Start "Excel 2013". In a few seconds, the state should transition to Running and Excel will be running in the background. Clicking on the green circle will reveal a few details on the running process:

    Excel 2013 running as a Windows Service

    Note that on Windows 8.1/8/7/Vista and Server 2012/2008, Excel will be running in the Isolated Session 0. Choose Tools > Switch to Session 0 to temporarily switch to the austere Session 0 desktop where Excel will be visible. You can also choose Application > Start "Excel 2013" in this Session if you wish to start Excel on your desktop.

  9. That's it! Next time your computer boots, Excel 2013 will start up immediately, before anyone logs on. We encourage you to edit Excel in AlwaysUp and check out the many other settings. For example, hide Excel from prying eyes, send an email if Excel ends unexpectedly, and much more.

Excel 2013 not working properly as a Windows Service?

  • Consult the AlwaysUp Troubleshooter - our online tool that can help you resolve the most common problems encountered when running an application as a windows service.
  • From AlwaysUp, select Application > Report Activity > Today... to bring up a HTML report detailing the interaction between AlwaysUp and Excel. The AlwaysUp Event Log Messages page explains the more obscure messages.
  • On our Windows 8.1 test machine, the Excel window was not showing its contents in Session 0. The window was simply not being refreshed/drawn. Other than that problem with visibility though, Excel seemed to function properly. Hopefully Microsoft will fix this bug soon!
  • Running Excel in the background unattended can be tricky, especially when it throws up a prompt that interrupts the action. If these can not be eliminated from your code, you may want to investigate using an automation script/program to automatically dismiss the pesky windows. Please see the Automate tab (or the AlwaysUp User's Manual) for additional information on automation.
  • Review the AlwaysUp FAQ for answers to commonly asked questions and troubleshooting tips.
  • Contact us and we will be happy to help!

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