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Understanding Customization and Administration

You can customize Windows® Internet Explorer® 8 in many ways to accommodate the preferences and needs of your organization and users. To help you get started, this section summarizes how you can use the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK) 8 to customize and administer Internet Explorer 8 installations. Specifically, this section focuses on the ways that corporate administrators can use the IEAK 8.

Overview: Internet Explorer Administration Kit 8

IEAK 8 contains programs and tools to help you customize, deploy, and administer Internet Explorer 8 within an organization or for your customers (if you are an Internet service provider or Internet content provider). IEAK 8 can be used in network environments with or without Active Directory®. The typical Internet Explorer 8 planning and deployment checklist for organizations using IEAK 8 includes:

  • Assessing your users' needs.

  • Analyzing your organization's needs.

  • Developing a customization and deployment strategy.

  • Establishing a deployment lab where you can test your deployment strategy.

  • Gathering the URLs, components, and other information that you will need.

  • Creating a custom Internet Explorer deployment package.

  • Digitally signing the custom cabinet (.cab) files that you create with IEAK 8, and the custom programs that you include (if your users will download your custom browser packages over the Internet).

  • Establishing a pilot group to validate your deployment plan and configurations.

Understanding IEAK 8 components

Before using IEAK 8, you should familiarize yourself with the programs and tools provided to enable you customize and administer Internet Explorer 8 for your organization. IEAK 8 includes the following components and tools:

  • IEAK Help File. The IEAK Help file (ieakhelp.chm) contains detailed information about planning, creating, deploying, and managing custom installations of Internet Explorer 8 using IEAK 8.

  • Internet Explorer Customization Wizard 8. The Internet Explorer Customization Wizard 8 provides step-by-step screens that you can use to create custom packages to deploy and configure Internet Explorer for the users and computers in your organization. If Internet Explorer is already installed, you can also use this wizard to create a package that contains configuration information only.

  • IEAK Profile Manager. As a corporate administrator, you can use IEAK Profile Manager to maintain browser configuration settings on your users' computers after Internet Explorer is deployed. With IEAK Profile Manager, you can open existing automatic configuration .ins files, change settings, save those files, and then use the Internet Explorer 8 Automatic Configuration feature to refresh the settings for your users and computers. You can also use the IEAK Profile Manager to enable automatic configuration if you did not enable this feature as part of an initial installation.

  • Windows Internet Explorer Link Program. The Windows Internet Explorer Logo program allows you to use one of the Windows Internet Explorer 8 logos or Feature icons on your website to link to a Windows Internet Explorer download page and site features, such as Accelerators or Web Slices.

    If you are licensed under the IEAK 8 you may also use the Logo on your website as an active link to a download of the customized version of Windows Internet Explorer 8 that you provide as part of your Internet-based offering or product as described in the IEAK documentation. For more information, see Get the Logo.

  • IEAK Toolkit. The IEAK Toolkit contains tools, programs, and sample files to help you create a custom package, create custom graphics, and deploy custom Internet Explorer packages. By default, the toolkit is installed to the <SystemDrive>:\Program Files\Windows IEAK 8\Toolkit folder, and includes several subfolders.

 

Folder name Description

\root_folder

(All versions) Parent root for all files built by IEAK or referenced in your custom package.

\root_folder\Custom

(ISP version only) Custom files (such as Signup.isp, Signup.htm, ICWsign.htm, Install.ins, and Cancel.ins) for server-based sign-up.

\root_folder\Dist

(ISP version only) Destination directory for the files. This folder is needed only if you are creating your browser package on a hard disk or network drive.

\root_folder\Bitmaps

(All versions) Custom bitmap files (graphic files needed for your custom browser).

Using IEAK 8 in a corporate environment

As a corporate administrator, you can save time by centrally administering Internet Explorer 8 installations. When you run the Internet Explorer Customization Wizard 8 to create custom browser packages, you can determine:

  • How Internet Explorer 8 will be installed.

  • How the browsing software and Internet Explorer 8 components are customized.

  • What browser and messaging options are available to your users.

If your organizational needs change after Internet Explorer 8 is installed, you can use the IEAK Profile Manager to update browser settings. Then you can use the automatic configuration feature in Internet Explorer 8 to deploy the updated settings to your users' computers, without leaving your office.

You can also set policies and restrictions for the browser through Group Policy, including security, messaging, and desktop settings. These policies and restrictions can help you manage your organization's resources and bandwidth. Does your accounting department have different needs than your marketing department? You can create different profiles that contain settings and restrictions tailored to each department.

Customizing Windows Update Setup for Internet Explorer 8

To make installation easier for your users, you can configure Internet Explorer 8 so that they can install the browser with few or no setup choices. This type of setup, sometimes referred to as a silent install, is often used for setting up Internet Explorer 8 after business hours when employees are not at their desks. You can further control this type of installation by using command-line switches or batch files. Because you are determining setup choices for your users, you can create only one silent install setup option.

If you suppress all user feedback, including response to error messages and status information, you should make sure that your setup plan includes error handling. If you suppress restarting after installation, you must create a custom program or script to handle restarting and to ensure that Internet Explorer 8 is set up correctly.

When you install Internet Explorer 8, you might also find it convenient to include components you have written, such as virus-checking programs or scripts. You can install up to 16 additional components in a custom browser package.

Customizing the browser

You can customize the appearance and behavior of the browsing software. These customizations can help you create a standard corporate desktop that is easier to manage.

To customize the browser, you can add your organization's name or other text to the title bar. For example, the phrase "Windows Internet Explorer provided by Woodgrove Bank" could appear on your title bar.

You can preset the following Web pages and links:

  • Corporate support page

  • Users' home pages

  • Users' search providers

  • Links on the Favorites menu

  • Links in the Links folder

  • Add-on Components page (for optional components)

  • Default Remote Storage feeds

noteNote
The Tabbed Browsing feature of Internet Explorer 8 makes it possible to offer more than one home page. Internet Explorer 8 also lets you define multiple search engines and determine which search provider will be the default.

For more information about customizing the browser, see Customizing Internet Explorer 8 using IEAK in this deployment guide.

Maintaining Internet Explorer 8

If you need to update browser settings after Internet Explorer 8 is installed, you can use the automatic configuration feature to change these settings globally at any time. First, you must use the IEAK Profile Manager to create an installation (.ins) file and associated .cab files that contain the browser configuration information, and then post these files to your server.

When you run the Internet Explorer Customization Wizard 8 to create your custom browser packages, you can point your users' browsers to this .ins file and specify how often the browser should check for updated configuration information. Then you can post a new .ins file at any time to update the browser automatically on your users' computers.

You can also import connection settings, such as proxy servers. After the browser is installed, you can use the IEAK Profile Manager to customize and maintain these connection settings. If your organization uses an automated program, such as a script in a proxy automatic configuration (.pac) file, a Microsoft® JScript® (.js) file, or a JavaScript (.jvs) file to control proxy settings, you can also incorporate it into your custom browser package.

For more information about using automatic configuration and the IEAK Profile Manager, see the following sections in this deployment guide:

Setting system policies and restrictions

When users customize their programs, they sometimes create challenges for corporate administrators. Although some changes simply reflect user preferences, other changes might make it difficult for corporate administrators to manage resources, control security, or maintain consistent functionality.

When you run the Internet Explorer Customization Wizard 8 to create your custom browser packages, you can select browser settings and, if necessary, disable browser features that do not fit your organization's needs. If you are familiar with system policies, you can also import your existing administration (.adm) files. Then after the browser is installed, you can use the IEAK Profile Manager to update and maintain these settings.

Both the Internet Explorer Customization Wizard 8 and the IEAK Profile Manager have graphical interfaces that enable you to set and clear options. You can lock settings, which prevents users from changing them. As you prepare to create your custom browser packages, consider whether you want to control options on a per-computer or per-user basis. If you have roaming users whose needs differ from other users', you might not want to lock settings on a per-computer basis.

Customization examples

To accommodate the varying needs of your organization and its users, consider the following customization options:

  • Include support for the character sets used by employees who communicate with overseas departments, so that they can correctly view Web pages in different languages.

  • Create a CD-ROM setup for users in a remote country or region, so that they do not need to connect to the local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN) to download your custom browser packages.

  • Distribute as part of the installation either approved or corporate ActiveX® controls, to minimize post-deployment support scenarios for locked down operating system configurations.

  • Increase the level of security for employees who will download your custom browser packages from the Internet. You can create specific versions with enhanced security options, or use Automatic Configuration to modify their security settings.

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