How to use Group Policy to remotely install software in Windows Server 2003

Published by Claro Software on

This guide will show you how to deploy ClaroRead using Windows Server 2003. This guide assumes you are familiar with how to operate your Windows network, that you have already setup Windows Server 2003 and have configured your users and groups in Active Directory. Windows Server 2008 is very similar.

We use Microsoft Windows Installer MSI files for all our installers so they work well with Windows networks and they all install in a similar way. You can use this guide for ClaroView, ScreenRuler and so on. On the ClaroRead installation disk for the UK we include eight voice installers, as these are quite large in size and will take some time to install, you may want to consider only installing two or three of these voices.

Some of our programs have pre-requisites – redistributables and other files that must be installed before or with the program. For example, ClaroRead Plus requires the Visual Studio 2005 C++ Runtime and Microsoft XML 4.0. You should also add these to the installation over the network if these are not already installed. The readme.txt file found with your installer will contain any necessary information, or contact us directly.

1 Creating a Distribution Point

The first step is to create a new folder and setup a network share for it. This is called a Distribution Point and will house the installation files and MSI package from which the software will be distributed. When creating this share please bear in mind that if it is deleted any attempted installations thereafter may fail so put it somewhere safe!

Every machine that will be installing the software must be able to get to the folder on the network, or it will not work.

Shared folder

Copy the ClaroRead network edition files into the shared folder. You will need the MSI file (the main installer) but also any folders and files with the MSI. These contain the actual program files.

Creating a Group Policy Object

Active directory

Go to Start > Administrative Tools > Active Directory Users and Computers

Domain properties

If you want to distribute the software to every user on your network right click your domain and click Properties. If you want to distribute the software only to member of a specific group right click the group node and click Properties.

Group Policy Editor

Click New then type a meaningful name for your Group Policy Object (GPO). Press enter, select the new GPO and then click the Edit button. The Group Policy Object Editor will appear.

Create new package

In the Group Policy Object Editor there is an entry called Software Installation under Computer Configuration > Software Settings. Right click it, click New, and then click Package…

Select an MSI

A file browser will appear. Type into it the UNC address of the ClaroRead msi from the Distribution Point we created earlier. It is very important that you do not use the file browser to locate the file as Windows will try and use the local address to distribute the package instead of its proper network location.

To find the UNC address you can navigate to the Distribution Point using My Network Places then copy the address beginning with from the address bar.

Select deployment method

Click the OK button. You will then be asked to select if you want to Assign or Publish the package. Assigning the software will cause it to install automatically when the user signs in whereas publishing the software will allow the user to manually install the software via Add and Remove Programs.

Select deployment method

Your package is now deployed. When a user logs in (or chooses to install if Published) then the software will be installed on their machine.

Select deployment method

In some circumstances you may find that the package is not installed at user login. To fix this open the Group Policy Object Editor and navigate to the ClaroRead Software Installation entry. Right click it then click Properties, go to the Deployment tab then make sure Install this application at logon is checked and click OK.

Further Reading

For more information on distributing software using Group Policy please see Microsoft Knowledgebase article 816102

This page was last updated on 17th December 2018.

Categories: Network