How to install software with group policy

It’s that time of the year again — another computer has a virus and we have to install software on all systems. But, you quickly realize that every system is using a different program to install programs. How do we solve this problem? Group Policy.

Group policy is a great tool that allows you to control the installation of software on workstations and servers. You are able to specify the location where software should be installed, who should be able to install the software, and if the software should automatically update itself.

Group policy is a Windows feature that allows you to configure settings on multiple computers. It’s similar to the Windows Registry, but it’s easier to use.

You can use group policy for a variety of purposes, including installing software and configuring other settings. This article will show you how to install software with group policy.

Before we get started, make sure that you’re familiar with the basics of group policy. You should also know how to set up a GPO (Group Policy Object). If this is not clear to you, read our article on setting up a GPO before proceeding with this tutorial.

Installing software with group policy is a great way to ensure that your employees have access to the software they need.

If you’re working in an environment with many different users, it’s important to make sure that each user has the right software installed on their computer. If you don’t install the correct software, users could be unable to perform their jobs or might get frustrated trying to do so.

Group policy allows you to install any type of software on your computers without having to go through the installation process manually for every computer. This can save a lot of time and effort if there are many computers involved in your organization!

Summary

You can use Group Policy to distribute computer programs by using the following methods:

  • Assigning softwareYou can assign a program distribution to users or computers. If you assign the program to a user, it’s installed when the user logs on to the computer. When the user first runs the program, the installation is completed. If you assign the program to a computer, it’s installed when the computer starts, and it’s available to all users who log on to the computer. When a user first runs the program, the installation is completed.
  • Publishing softwareYou can publish a program distribution to users. When the user logs on to the computer, the published program is displayed in the Add or Remove Programs dialog box, and it can be installed from there.

 Note

Windows Server 2003 Group Policy automated-program installation requires client computers that are running Microsoft Windows 2000 or a later version.

Create a distribution point

To publish or assign a computer program, create a distribution point on the publishing server by following these steps:

  1. Log on to the server as an administrator.
  2. Create a shared network folder where you’ll put the Windows Installer package (.msi file) that you want to distribute.
  3. Set permissions on the share to allow access to the distribution package.
  4. Copy or install the package to the distribution point. For example, to distribute a .msi file, run the administrative installation (setup.exe /a) to copy the files to the distribution point.

Create a Group Policy Object

To create a Group Policy Object (GPO) to use to distribute the software package, follow these steps:

  1. Start the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in by clicking Start, pointing to Administrative Tools, and then clicking Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. In the console tree, right-click your domain, and then click Properties.
  3. Click the Group Policy tab, and then click New.
  4. Type a name for this new policy, and then press Enter.
  5. Click Properties, and then click the Security tab.
  6. Clear the Apply Group Policy check box for the security groups that you don’t want this policy to apply to.
  7. Select the Apply Group Policy check box for the groups that you want this policy to apply to.
  8. When you’re finished, click OK.

Assign a package

To assign a program to computers that are running Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000, or Windows XP Professional, or to users who are logging on to one of these workstations, follow these steps:

  1. Start the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in by clicking Start, pointing to Administrative Tools, and then clicking Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. In the console tree, right-click your domain, and then click Properties.
  3. Click the Group Policy tab, select the policy that you want, and then click Edit.
  4. Under Computer Configuration, expand Software Settings.
  5. Right-click Software installation, point to New, and then click Package.
  6. In the Open dialog box, type the full Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path of the shared installer package that you want. For example, \\<file server>\<share>\<file name>.msi. ImportantDon’t use the Browse button to access the location. Make sure that you use the UNC path of the shared installer package.
  7. Click Open.
  8. Click Assigned, and then click OK. The package is listed in the right-pane of the Group Policy window.
  9. Close the Group Policy snap-in, click OK, and then close the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in.
  10. When the client computer starts, the managed software package is automatically installed.

Publish a package

To publish a package to computer users and make it available for installation from the Add or Remove Programs list in Control Panel, follow these steps:

  1. Start the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in by clicking Start, pointing to Administrative Tools, and then clicking Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. In the console tree, right-click your domain, and then click Properties.
  3. Click the Group Policy tab, click the policy that you want, and then click Edit.
  4. Under User Configuration, expand Software Settings.
  5. Right-click Software installation, point to New, and then click Package.
  6. In the Open dialog box, type the full UNC path of the shared installer package that you want. For example, \\file server\share\file name.msi. ImportantDon’t use the Browse button to access the location. Make sure that you use the UNC path of the shared installer package.
  7. Click Open.
  8. Click Publish, and then click OK.
  9. The package is listed in the right-pane of the Group Policy window.
  10. Close the Group Policy snap-in, click OK, and then close the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in.
  11. Test the package. NoteBecause there are several versions of Windows, the following steps may be different on your computer. If they are, see your product documentation to complete these steps.
    1. Log on to a workstation that is running Windows 2000 Professional or Windows XP Professional by using an account that you published the package to.
    2. In Windows XP, click Start, and then click Control Panel.
    3. Double-click Add or Remove Programs, and then click Add New Programs.
    4. In the Add programs from your network list, click the program that you published, and then click Add. The program is installed.
    5. Click OK, and then click Close.

Redeploy a package

In some cases, you may want to redeploy a software package (for example, if you upgrade or change the package). To redeploy a package, follow these steps:

  1. Start the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in by clicking Start, pointing to Administrative Tools, and then clicking Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. In the console tree, right-click your domain, and then click Properties.
  3. Click the Group Policy tab, click the Group Policy Object that you used to deploy the package, and then click Edit.
  4. Expand the Software Settings container that contains the software installation item that you used to deploy the package.
  5. Click the software installation container that contains the package.
  6. In the right-pane of the Group Policy window, right-click the program, point to All Tasks, and then click Redeploy application. You will receive the following message:Redeploying this application will reinstall the application everywhere it is already installed. Do you want to continue?
  7. Click Yes.
  8. Quit the Group Policy snap-in, click OK, and then close the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in.

Remove a package

To remove a published or assigned package, follow these steps:

  1. Start the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in by clicking Start, pointing to Administrative Tools, and then clicking Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. In the console tree, right-click your domain, and then click Properties.
  3. Click the Group Policy tab, click the Group Policy Object that you used to deploy the package, and then click Edit.
  4. Expand the Software Settings container that contains the software installation item that you used to deploy the package.
  5. Click the software installation container that contains the package.
  6. In the right-pane of the Group Policy window, right-click the program, point to All Tasks, and then click Remove.
  7. Perform one of the following actions:
    • Click Immediately uninstall the software from users and computers, and then click OK.
    • Click Allow users to continue to use the software but prevent new installations, and then click OK.
  8. Close the Group Policy snap-in, click OK, and then closet the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in.

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