This step-by-step article describes how to use Group Policy to automatically distribute programs to client computers or users.
You can use Group Policy to distribute computer programs by using the following methods.
You can assign a program distribution to users or computers. If you assign the program to a user, it is installed when the user logs on to the computer. When the user first runs the program, the installation is finalized.
If you assign the program to a computer, it is installed when the computer starts and is available to all users that log on to the computer. When a user first runs the program, the installation is finalized.
You can publish a program distribution to users. When the user logs on to the computer, the published program is displayed in the Add/Remove Programs dialog box, and it can be installed from there.
NOTE: Microsoft Windows 2000 Group Policy automated-program installation requires client computers that are running Windows 2000 or later.
To publish or assign a computer program, you must create a distribution point on the publishing server:
Log on to the server computer as an administrator.
Create a shared network folder in which to place the Microsoft Software Installer (MSI) package that you want to distribute.
Set permissions on the share to allow access to the distribution package.
Copy or install the MSI package to the distribution point. For example, to distribute Microsoft Office XP, run the administrative installation (setup.exe /a) to copy the files to the distribution point.
To create a Group Policy object (GPO) with which to distribute the software package:
Start the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in. To do this, click Start, point to Programs, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.
In the console tree, right-click your domain, and then click Properties.
Click the Group Policy tab, and then click New.
Type the name that you want to call this policy (for example, Office XP distribution), and then press ENTER.
Click Properties, and then click the Security tab.
Click to clear the Apply Group Policy check box for the security groups that you want to prevent from having this policy applied. Click to select the Apply Group Policy check box for the groups to which you want to apply this policy. When you are finished, click OK.
Published Packages Displayed on Client Computer After You Use a Group Policy to Remove Them
This situation can occur when a user has installed the program but has not used it. When the user first starts the published program, the installation is finalized. Group Policy then removes the program.