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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