Section 8.9: Software Deployment
In Windows Server 2003 there are two mechanisms that you can use to deploy and manage software applications. These are Windows Installer and the software installation and maintenance technology. The Windows Installer package is an .msi file that contains explicit instructions about installing and removing specific applications. The software installation and maintenance technology assists you in managing the installation, configuration, repair, and removal of software, including applications, operating system service packs, or software upgrades. In addition, the Windows Server 2003 software installation and maintenance technology is designed to facilitate policy-based management of software through the entire software life cycle.
Windows Installer uses an .msi file extension that replaces the Setup.exe file. This .msi file is the Windows Installer package and has a number of administrative advantages.
The software installation and maintenance technology uses Group Policy to deploy and manage software that is in the Windows Installer package. The most important advantage of using software installation and maintenance technology is that you can manage and deploy software from a central location. By working with Windows Installer package files, you can manage most software deployment and management tasks through the use of Group Policy. After an organization obtains a Windows Installer package file, you can create GPOs and associate them with the package file. These GPOs can:
• Install applications on user computers. Installation can occur automatically when a user logs on or when a computer starts up, or you can make these applications available for users to install when they need them.
• Upgrade a previous version of the application, or automatically apply software patches or service packs.
• Remove applications. Software installation and maintenance technology operates by using Group Policy.