Deploy Windows 2000 applications with group policy

Did you know that you can use group policy to automatically deploy Windows 2000 applications to your clients' desktops? Jim Boyce gives the step-by-step directions.

Group policy provides numerous capabilities for remote configuration and management. One particularly useful feature is the capability to deploy Windows 2000 applications automatically to clients' desktops.

For example, perhaps you want to automate deployment of Microsoft Office to your users. You could use a network share-based deployment or labor-intensive manual installations, but group policy offers a much better, hands-off approach.

When you deploy applications with group policy, you either can publish or assign the application. Published applications appear in the users' Add Or Remove Programs applet in the Control Panel, and users can add them as needed. Assigned applications appear to the user as already installed. When the user attempts to run the application from a shortcut or document association, Windows Installer performs a "just-in-time" installation of the application.

Deploying applications with group policy isn't difficult but it does require several steps to complete. Here are the specific steps to accomplish application deployment:

  1. Copy the application's installation files to a unique folder on a network server and share the folder, assigning permissions as needed.
  2. From the Active Directory Users And Computers console, open the group policy object from which you want to deploy applications.
  3. Right-click Software Installation in either the Computer Configuration or User Configuration branch and choose New | Package.
  4. Specify the UNC path to the shared folder that contains the application's installation files, choose the MSI file, and click Open.
  5. Choose between Published or Assigned and click OK.
  6. In the right pane, right-click the new application policy and choose Properties.
  7. Review and modify additional properties for the package as needed, then click OK.

Several additional capabilities exist for automated deployment, which you should take the time to investigate. For example, you can create categories for published applications to organize the way applications appear in users' Add Or Remove Programs applet. In addition, you can deploy updates through group policy, and control how previously installed versions are handled during installation. For more information on these features, browse the properties for the package in the Group Policy Editor.

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