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Introduction

As Web use increases and more companies take advantage of intranets and extranets, Web browsing technology becomes increasingly important. Most IT departments now look at browsers on the same strategic level as operating systems, productivity and line-of-business applications (which are often now Web-based). And the majority of companies now include browser as part of a user's standard desktop.

Increasingly, many organizations prefer to deploy customized browsers, an efficiency that allows them to achieve the following benefits:

  • Increased productivity. Administrators can customize browsers by pre-populating proxy settings, Favorites, security settings and digital certificates, helping users become more productive because they won't spend time looking for required tools and resources. By deploying customized browsers, administrators can give users access to key intranet and extranet applications, and ensure that all browsers have the same functionality.

  • Increased manageability and reliability. By creating custom packages, administrators can test components with key line-of-business applications to maximize reliability, and reduce costs for support, deployments, and upgrades. Administrators can centrally and dynamically manage a user's desktop browser components. Upgrading e-mail clients, for example, can be achieved efficiently without upgrading other components.

Automated Deployment Options

To automate customized browser deployment, administrators have the following options:

  • Disk image copying. Disk image copying, sometimes called "cloning," is one of the fastest ways to set-up new desktops. Disk image copying means creating an image of a standard desktop and then copying that image onto new or existing systems. Custom browser settings are configured as part of the standard desktop image. Disk image copying is generally fast and cost effective because without any user interaction nearly every component can be configured, including the operating system, applications, and desktop customizations. However, disk image copying is not appropriate for every situation and environment. Images work only on identical or very similarly configured hardware. If upgrading an existing system, all user settings and data on existing systems must be stored in another location, such as on a server, because disk imaging overwrites any existing files on the system.

  • Electronic Software Distribution. Electronic software distribution (ESD) uses specialized applications to install software on desktops across a network. Unlike other deployment methods, ESD is generally a component of more comprehensive enterprise management suites available from companies such as Hewlett Packard, Intel, Microsoft1 Kit). Although this guide focuses on using the Internet Explorer Administration Kit to deploy Internet Explorer 5, the Appendix includes special considerations for using Systems Management Server to deploy Internet Explorer 5 on Windows NT® Workstation 4.0-based PCs, particularly when local users do not have administrative privileges. For more information on using Systems Management Server to deploy Internet Explorer 5, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie. For general information about Systems Management Server, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/smserver/default.asp , and Tivoli. ESD often relies on the same installation scripts used to install the operating system, although some ESD solutions provide a more extensive graphical environment for creating these scripts and stronger integration with application setup languages. IT professionals also use ESD solutions to generate reports on the success and progress of deployments. Enterprise management suites enable better management of the deployment process, such as scheduling remote installations for better network bandwidth use. Ultimately, however, ESD is more complex than disk image copying. For example, building infrastructure for ESD is more time consuming than creating and copying images and some ESD solutions depend on the presence of hardware technologies.

    Internet Explorer Administration Kit. The Internet Explorer Administration Kit is a tool designed to enable administrators to create a hands-free customized installation of Microsoft Internet Explorer 5. Using the Internet Explorer Administration Kit, administrators can:

    • Tailor browsers and other Internet components to fit an organization's needs, for example, by customizing the Links bar and Favorites lists to promote the organization or provide helpful information.

    • Configure settings before an installation, so administrators don't need to set options on each computer.

    • Customize Setup so that it requires less intervention and installs custom programs.

    • Manage which settings users can change, to ensure that security, connection, and other important settings adhere to corporate standards.

The Internet Explorer Administration Kit is the deployment method described in this paper. For more information on other automated deployment methods, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie.

Internet Explorer Administration Kit Components

The Internet Explorer Administration Kit 5 consists of the following primary components:

  • Internet Explorer Customization Wizard. The Customization wizard provides five stages of step-by-step screens that help you create customized Internet Explorer packages.

  • Internet Explorer Administration Kit Profile Manager. The Profile Manager lets you automatically change your users' settings and restrictions after Internet Explorer has been installed.

  • Connection Manager Administration Kit. The Connection Manager Administration Kit (CMAK) is a wizard that guides you through customizing and configuring the Microsoft Connection Manager dialer. The CMAK creates a self-extracting executable file (.exe) that installs itself on your users' computers. Then when a user clicks the custom icon to connect to the Internet, the dialer dialog box that you created appears. You can build a custom profile into your Internet Explorer packages.

  • Internet Explorer Administration Kit Toolkit. The Internet Explorer Administration Kit Toolkit contains helpful tools, programs, and sample files, such as the IExpress wizard, sample sign-up and add-on files, artwork, and other tools. The Toolkit contents are located in the Toolkit folder of the Internet Explorer Administration Kit program folder.

  • Internet Explorer Administration Kit Help. To get quick access to information you need, use the Index tab, the Contents tab, or the Search tab. You can print a single topic, all topics at once, or a group of related topics.

Key Internet Explorer Administration Kit Capabilities

Internet Explorer Administration Kit 5 provides many enhanced and new capabilities over previous Internet Explorer Administration Kit versions. The best way to become familiar with the features is to go through the Internet Explorer Administration Kit in demonstration mode and explore each of the wizard pages. The following are some of the highlights and key capabilities.2

Internet Explorer 5 Distribution Options

  • Platform Options – Administrators can distribute customizations to clients running Windows NT® (3.51 or greater), Windows® 95, Windows 98, Windows 3.11, and Windows for Workgroups, Solaris 2.5 and greater, HP-UX 10.2 or greater (Mac version of Internet Explorer Administration Kit is scheduled to be available separately).

  • Distribution Media Options – Administrations can choose Web download, CD-ROM, multiple floppy disk or LAN deployment. Single-disk branding, a new feature in Internet Explorer 5, enables configuration of Internet Explorer settings without installing code on the client machine. (Note: Single-disk branding will be available only systems running Internet Explorer 4.01 SP1 or greater.)

  • Custom Components and Add-on Applications – Up to ten custom components, self-extracting executables (.exe), or cabinet files (.cab) can be installed along with Internet Explorer 5, saving administrators time and effort during distribution, and reducing interruptions in user productivity. Custom components can include in-house applications, shareware, or other programs that administrators want to distribute.

  • Pre-Install Components or Applications – Custom components can be installed before installing the Internet Explorer 5 browser. This is particularly useful for utilities that prepare machines for a browser installation. For example, registry-cleaning utilities can be run before installing Internet Explorer so that browser-created registry keys are affected.

  • Controlled User Interaction – Corporate administrators can set the following install options for Internet Explorer 5: Interactive, Hands-free, and Completely Silent. Interactive installation allows users to customize components during installation; Hands-free installation displays error and progress messages but doesn't prompt users for information; and Completely Silent installation is hidden from the user. This allows administrators to select the most appropriate level of user involvement for each installation.

  • Installation Options – Each installation package can be customized with up to ten installation options, each of which includes a specific set of components. Internet Explorer Administration Kit 5 includes minimum, standard, and full installation types, which administrators can keep, remove, or customize. Installation options allow an administrator to create and distribute a single package that can be tailored for multiple groups of users.

  • Installation Directory – The Internet Explorer 5 installation directory can be customized, and administrators can prevent users from changing this location. Enforcing a standard location for Internet Explorer 5 can improve administration and troubleshooting, and improve the accuracy of versioning, metering, and inventory software.

  • Improved Web Deployment – Web installations can be configured to use up to ten download sites: If a connectivity problem occurs, the installation can switch to another site. Internet Explorer 5 setup can also resume an interrupted download. This helps ensure that users experience as smooth an installation process as possible.

  • Versioning – Internet Explorer Administration Kit 5 automatically versions every package, and it can be configured to allow or prevent overwriting of older versions onto newer versions. Individual Internet Explorer 5 components are also versioned and can be individually updated with an installation package without having to reinstall all components. Versioning enables efficient updates to packages and helps ensure standardization across an organization.

  • Optimize for Web Download – Internet Explorer 5 Setup can detect Internet Explorer components that are already on a user's system. Existing components are not downloaded again. For example, dynamic HTML data binding will not be reinstalled on a user's system, even if it is included in the installation package. Web download optimization saves bandwidth usage and time and is particularly helpful for users downloading via slow connections. To create a uniformly homogenous environment, web download optimization can be disabled so that each system has precisely the same version of each component.

  • Automatic Installation – Administrators can include components in a distribution that won't be installed until users require them. For example, if Internet Explorer 5 detects that a user needs Microsoft Virtual Machine, Internet Explorer will automatically find the distribution point (a LAN share, for example) and install the necessary components. This helps minimize the time and disk space wasted by installing components a user never needs.

  • Automatic Digital Signing – Internet Explorer 5 packages can be digitally signed for distribution. By including a digital signature, administrators provide users with a guarantee that the package hasn't been changed and the source is known

Browser Customization Options

  • Browser Title – The browser title bar can be appended to read "Microsoft Internet Explorer provided by Company X…" This promotes corporate or brand awareness when using Internet Explorer 5.

  • Browser Toolbars – Custom browser toolbars can be added to launch applications or run scripts. The default toolbar buttons can each be disabled as well. This enables administrators to provide precisely the set of tools each user needs.

  • Browser Logos – The static and animated bitmaps in the top right-hand corner of the browser window can be customized. This option was previously available only to customers with special Microsoft Licensing Agreements. This is one of the most visible areas of Internet Explorer for branding with a custom logo.

  • Favorites / Channels – Channels are now better integrated with Favorites, and both sets can be pre-populated by the administrator. The Favorites list, which can be populated and organized with up to 200 links, can be ordered, and Favorites can be placed either at the top or bottom of the list. Administrators can use the lists to distribute important company links, and users will find the lists easier to organize and manage.

  • Welcome Page – The first time the browser is started, a special page with introductory information can be displayed. This URL can be either the Microsoft default or a customized page, or administrators can opt for no start page. The "Welcome to Internet Explorer" dialog box that ran automatically in Version 4 has been removed. Companies can use this welcome page to communicate key information about Internet Explorer 5, including company browsing policies, support services information, and other company-specific messages.

  • Per Connection Settings – Internet Explorer 5 includes improved logic for determining connection status. Unless locked out by the administrator, users can edit connection settings (including proxy settings) on a per-connection basis, such as setting separate configurations for accessing an ISP and the corporate network. Internet Explorer 5 will detect which connection is being used and apply appropriate connection settings automatically. Administrators can import these connection settings from an existing machine to users' machines so that when users click on the Internet Explorer icon, it will automatically dial using the correct connection settings. This greatly simplifies creation of auto-dial settings for administrators and minimizes proxy-setting problems for users.

  • Proxy – Proxy servers and proxy exceptions can all be pre-populated. These settings can be configured on a per-connection basis, and they can be imported during package creation. This makes it easier for administrators to create packages, and makes connecting much easier for users with multiple connection settings.

  • Certificates – Certification Authorities (CAs) and Authenticode settings can all be pre-populated. By creating a list of pre-approved CAs, administrators can prevent users from installing software from non-approved vendors.

  • Security Zones – Security Zones enable administrators to set appropriate levels of security based on how a Web page is accessed (Internet, Local Intranet, Trusted Sites, Restricted Sites). All security zone settings can be customized, and administrators can prevent users from being able to change these settings. The Local Machine zone (My Computer) can also be customized separately, giving administrators more control over what users can view.

  • Content Ratings – Content Ratings can be adjusted, password protected, and included in the package. This helps administrators enforce Internet use policies consistently throughout an organization. Administrators can also create, enforce, and dynamically manage an approved/disapproved site list.

  • Update Check Page – The browser can be configured to present a custom startup page at regular intervals. This enables companies to ensure that a Web page is displayed on an Internet Explorer workstation at least once.

  • Toolbar Background Bitmap – The browser toolbar background bitmap, or "watermark," can be customized. This is another component of browser branding, offering the benefits of higher visibility for a company or brand, both internally and externally.

Other Key Capabilities

  • Administrator - Approved ActiveX ® Controls List – Administrators can specify certain controls to run while locking out all others. This helps the administrator maintain a consistent version of Internet Explorer code throughout an organization, reducing administrative overhead and troubleshooting issues. The approved set of ActiveX controls can be enabled and administered dynamically by using the System Policies and Restrictions features in the Internet Explorer Administration Kit Profile Manager.

  • CMAK Ships with Internet Explorer Administration Kit – CMAK (Connection Manager Administration Kit) is shipped and simultaneously installed with the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (all part of Internet Explorer Administration Kit 5.exe). The CMAK is also available with the Customization wizard and can automatically integrate a Connection Manager profile into the Internet Explorer package.

  • Feature Selection – The Internet Explorer Customization wizard can be customized to only show the sets of features necessary for that particular package. For example, if a corporate administrator only cares about customizing Favorites, then all other non-mandatory screens will be hidden to save time and reduce complexity.

  • Single-Disk Branding – For systems running Internet Explorer 4.01 SP1 or greater, administrators can use the Customization wizard to create a single floppy disk that simply brands the system with custom text and logo information, and then sets up connections if necessary. This provides methods a simple way to add branding information and set up settings for existing Internet Explorer 5 users.

  • Automatic Configuration – Browser and component settings, as well as system policies and restrictions, can be updated automatically at regular intervals or every time the browser is started. This feature provides an easy way to configure and distribute not only Internet Explorer 5 settings but also Windows Profile settings to groups of users throughout an enterprise.

  • Outlook ® Express – Outlook Express is available with Internet Explorer 5, and Internet Explorer Administration Kit 5 can be used to pre-populate mail and news server settings, as well as a welcome email message and customized InfoPane. Additional Outlook Express customizations include newsgroup pre-population, message rules, and views options. This makes it easier for administrators to set up new machines or users with mail and ensure a standard mail client throughout a corporation without making users perform setup and configuration.

  • HTML Help – All of the Internet Explorer Administration Kit 5 documentation uses the HTML Help engine, the same Help engine used in Internet Explorer 5 and Windows 98. HTML Help is referenced and hyperlinked to improve access to technical information in the Help file.

  • Improved UI – The Internet Explorer Administration Kit 5 Customization wizard has an easier-to-use, more attractive, and better-organized user interface, making deployment much more straightforward and less time-consuming for administrators.

  • Office Custom Installation Wizard (OCIW) Mode – For administrators interested in deploying Internet Explorer 5 at the same time as Office 2000, the Internet Explorer Administration Kit is featured as an Office Toolkit and is easily accessible via the OCIW.

Enhancement from Previous Versions

For administrators who are familiar with previous versions of the Internet Explorer Administration Kit, the following are some of the key enhancements:

  • Smaller setup footprint and modular features. Internet Explorer is smaller and more modular. Administrators have more control over which features are installed and whether users can customize setup options.

  • Install only the features users need. Administrators can install only the Internet Explorer 5 features users will need, and enable users to install new features as necessary with the Automatic Install feature. Through System Policies and Settings, administrators can control whether this feature is enabled.

  • View only the Internet Explorer Customization wizard screens that apply to you. In the Customization wizard, administrators can specify only the features they want to customize. This is especially helpful to specify only a few custom settings.

  • Improved digital certificate support. The Internet Explorer Administration Kit wizard can sign custom files and programs automatically. Signing files is necessary for distributing files over the Internet or when administrators don't want to specifically configure intranet settings.

  • Batch text setup file. The Internet Explorer Administration Kit enables administrators to customize setup, but administrators can further control setup by using a batch text file. Administrators can include the batch file in a custom Internet Explorer Administration Kit package.

  • Enhanced Automatic Version Synchronization (AVS). When you download updated program versions, administrators don't need to download setup (.cab) files that haven't changed. This saves download time. The version number and disk space needed for each component are also displayed in the AVS interface.

  • Custom browser toolbar buttons. Administrators can customize the browser toolbar by specifying custom buttons to run scripts or executable files.

  • Automatic Install. Internet Explorer enables users to easily install features that were not initially installed with the package.

  • Update notification page. Administrators can provide information about updated programs, files, or company news at intervals with a standard .htm page.

  • Installation into a custom directory. Administrators are now prompted to choose an installation directory, so previous versions of the Internet Explorer Administration Kit do not have to be overwritten. Administrators can also determine whether or not users can change their installation location.

1 Microsoft Systems Management Server provides comprehensive planning, deployment and diagnostic tools, including the ability to distribute Internet Explorer 5 packages (in conjunction with the Internet Explorer Administration

2 UNIX and 16-bit Windows capabilities may vary.

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