In the past I have had to install applications directly on each user’s computer. This was time consuming to say the least. Then I started using Dameware for Windows 2000 that helped me remotely install applications. It was far from free and was difficult to use.
Then Remote Desktop came around with Windows XP Professional and I was able to remotely log into each machine and install the Windows applications. This was still time consuming. Now I am able to assign applications to computers automatically. I can also assign applications to users so no matter where they are on my domain they will have the software they need.
I do a remote install our Windows Microsoft Office software, and I will show you how. The application that you want to install will need to have a MSI file to deploy it. An MSI file is simply a Microsoft installer. If you do not have one there are methods to creating one like this. Once you have the MSI file we can create answer templates to choose the options we want to pick. This helps us customize the installations while keeping it automated.
When you are dealing with thousands of computers with hundreds of different requirements this is a necessity. Now we can use our OUs or organizational units to deploy applications.
Let’s open up our Active Directory Users and Accounts.
Pick who you want to deploy the applications to. Right click on that OU and choose properties.
Then click on the group policy tab at the top right of the window and then we need to click open to get to the management interface.
Whatever is in the OU you choose, computers or users, they will all be affected. In this situation it means they will have the software deployed to it.
We will next be taken to this screen:
This is called the group policy management screen. The OU you selected two steps back will be highlighted on the left hand side and any policies assigned to it will appear in the right pane. You can see I have a GPO called OfcStd, which is my shorthand for Office Standard.
This group policy deploys Office 2003 standard to the machines in this OU. Now let’s see how to do it from scratch.
Right click on the OU and choose create and link a GPO here.
That will take you to a screen that will ask you to name your GPO. It looks like this:
Name your GPO something that is helpful in understanding what it does. I named mine test software installation. That will take us to the same screen with the new blank GPO added. You will want to right click on it and choose edit like so:
After clicking edit we will be in the group policy object editor. Depending on if you want the software assigned to the computer or the user (computer will always install to the same machine and user will follow the user to whatever machine they are using). Expand either computer configuration ““> software settings or user configuration software settings like you see below:
After clicking on the software installation item below the software settings folder you will see this:
Right click on the right pane and choose new ““> package as shown above.
I chose Office 2003 standard’s installer called STD11.msi. and I am done. That is really it! You have deployed your first software package. Imagine how much time this can save if used properly!
Now you can test it by logging in as a user, in that OU, if you choose the user configuration above. If you choose the computer configuration you would use a computer in that OU. Sometimes it takes a reboot and in extreme cases two to see the installation. When you are successful you will see a screen directly after logging in telling you that it is installing your applications. How cool is that?
How do you remote install Windows software? Do you have any tips or tricks for us?