You’ve decided to upgrade to Project 2000. Your next step is deciding how the installation will go out to your users. For many smaller organizations, this is as simple as sending an IT worker out with the CD and installing it manually. Doing so can be effective and efficient in a small, centrally located organization. However, what if you have lots of users or users who are geographically dispersed? In a situation like that, walking around with the CD can be a waste of time.

Another way to deploy Project 2000 is to create a network-based installation location. From this central location, you can have your IT staff (or even your end users) run the install. And a network-based installation enables you to customize the install options so that all your users receive the same application components. Smaller IT shops may tend to overlook this installation approach, perhaps because of the misconception that it is complex. But once you know the procedure, it’s really a very quick and straightforward operation. In this article, you’ll learn the steps to create a network-based installation location.

Step one: The administrative installation point
The first step is to create the administrative installation point. This will be the location on the network where your Project 2000 setup files will reside. The process of creating the administrative installation point will copy all the required files from the CD to your network share.

To create the installation point, follow these steps:

  • Run Project 2000 setup on the CD from the command line and add the “/a install.msi” switch. For example, if your CD drive is D then you would enter setup.exe /a install.msi from the root of the D drive.
  • You’ll be prompted for your license key and company name. Enter them and click Next.
  • Accept the End User License Agreement and click Next again.
  • Choose a network location for your Administrative installation Point. This is where your users or your IT staff will run setup to install Project 2000. Click Install Now. (Note that if you plan to run any components of Project from the network, this share will need to remain available to all users who install from this administrative install point.)

The Installer will copy all the required setup files to the location specified in the final step described above. Your users are now free to run setup from this location, which will install Project just as if they were running it from the CD—except they will not need to enter a CD key.

Step two: Customizing your installation
This is the cool part of the installation—and it’s where the most potential benefit for IT comes into play. Using the Custom Installation Wizard, which you can download as part of the Office Resource Kit tools, you can determine the setup options the Installer will use to install Project.

Normally, a user would have to specify this information during the installation. Using the Installer transform, or MST file, created by the Custom Installation Wizard, the Installer program will automatically install without the user having to specify the settings. You can control what components get installed, where they get installed, and the method of installation (run from network, install locally, and so on).

Creating a transform is actually quite simple. I had always thought of these types of operations as something akin to black magic and avoided them. But in the research for this article, I found the process to be remarkably easy. Just follow these steps:

  • Run the Custom Installation Wizard.
  • Specify the MST file you used when you created the administrative install point. It should now be located in the share where you placed your install point. This file contains the available installation options and preferences that can be set during installation.
  • Click Next, and you’ll see a screen that asks whether you want to open an existing transform. If you’re creating a new transform, then go with the default option, Do Not Open An Existing MST File. (If you were using the wizard to edit a transform you created previously, then you would select the other option and specify which MST file you wanted to edit.)
  • Click Next, enter the name of the transform file you want to create, and click Next again.
  • Specify the location on the user’s machine where Project should be installed. Accepting the defaults will place it in the Program Files\Microsoft Office directory. Click Next.
  • Specify whether the Installer should remove previous versions of Project. Project is not specifically mentioned in the options, but selecting the Obsolete Microsoft Office Files check box should remove Project 98.
  • Click Next, and you’ll see the same screen you would see if you were installing from the CD, with options for which Project 2000 components will be installed and how they will be installed. After you select the desired options, click Next.
  • Specify an Office Profile, or OPS file, for use with this installation. This will allow you to capture a set of profile options that will be installed with Project. (This article will not detail how to create custom profiles.)
  • Click Next, and you’ll advance to a screen where you can specify any files that you want to be installed with Project 2000. This can be very useful if you have a set of standard templates or procedure documents that you want all Project users to have on their local machines. Simply specify a file and then enter the path for the target location on the user’s machine.
  • Click Next again and you can specify whether the Installer should create or edit any Windows registry settings during the installation. When you finish, click Next.
  • Tell the Installer which shortcuts to place on the user’s machine and where to place them.
  • Click Next and then specify the locations of any copies of this installation point that you will be creating. These locations will be used by Office if the original installation point is unavailable. This can be especially handy if you are running some components from the network rather than from the local machine. Multiple locations allow you to provide a backup if one or more points are offline due to network or server trouble.
  • Click Next, and you’ll be able to provide command lines for running other programs such as the setup routines for other products that you want installed wherever Project 2000 is installed.
  • Click Next to bring up a screen that allows you to push the upgrade to Internet Explorer to users who are installing Project. When you have selected your IE installation options, click Next.
  • At this point, you can edit some of the installation options. Click Next, and then click Finish.
  • The last screen shows you the path to your MST file and gives you an example of a command line you can use to silently install Project 2000 using the options you have specified. You can create a shortcut using this command line, and your users can use it to install Project 2000 with no interaction required from them at all.

Though there are a number of steps, they are very easy to follow, and the wizard is thorough in its creation of the MST file. Try it out and see for yourself the value and timesaving potential of a network-based deployment.

Brian Kennemer is a Microsoft Project MVP and program manager for Pacific Edge Software. Brian writes and speaks for a number of organizations on Project and its use. Brian and his family live near Seattle.

Brian’s articles about MS Project appear each month in the IT Manager Republic. If you have a comment or question for Brian, post a comment below or send him a note.