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Chapter 27 - Keeping Programs Updated

After you install Microsoft® Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Tools, you can use the following tools to keep browser components and settings updated:

  • Automatic version synchronization (AVS). Use AVS to obtain new and updated Internet Explorer components, including security patches and new product releases that you can deploy as part of your updated browser packages. 


  • IEAK Profile Manager. Use the IEAK Profile Manager to create and modify IEAK profiles, which use auto-configuration .ins files to update the browser settings on users' computers. 


  • Update notification page. Set the update notification page to notify users automatically about new versions of Internet Explorer. You can customize or disable this update capability. 


  • Group Policy. On client computers that are running Microsoft® Windows® XP and Microsoft® Windows® 2000 operating systems (particularly client computers that are part of a Windows XP or Windows 2000 domain), you must customize the browser and administer system policies and restrictions by using the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) with Microsoft® Active Directory™ and the Internet Explorer Maintenance (IEM) snap-in extension for Group Policy. 


Note This chapter provides a brief overview of Group Policy. For complete information about the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), Active Directory, and the Internet Explorer Maintenance (IEM) snap-in extension for Group Policy, see the online Help and Resource Kits for Windows XP and Windows 2000.

Related Information in the Resource Kit

  • For more information about Internet Explorer Customization Wizard settings, see "Running the Microsoft Internet Explorer Customization Wizard." 

  • For more information about system policies and restrictions, see the appendix "Setting System Policies and Restrictions." 


Automatic Version Synchronization

After you install Internet Explorer and Internet Tools, you can run the Internet Explorer Customization Wizard and use the wizard's AVS feature to obtain any updated or new components released by Microsoft that have become available since your deployment of Internet Explorer. You can then download and install these components as part of your updated browser packages.

To use the AVS feature when you run the Customization Wizard, do the following:

  • In Stage 1, on the File Locations page, use the Advanced Options dialog box to specify a component download folder where the current versions of the Internet Explorer components that you deployed to your users' computers are located. AVS determines which components need to be updated by comparing the latest versions of Internet Explorer components that are available on the Internet to the versions in the component download folder that you specify. 

    The Check for latest components via Automatic Version Synchronization check box, which turns on the AVS feature, is selected by default. If you clear this check box, the Customization Wizard cannot verify whether you have the latest versions of Internet Explorer components. 


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    In Stage 2 on the Automatic Version Synchronization page, use the Updates dialog box to identify any new or updated component versions that are not in the download folder you specified in Stage 1. You can then select the new or updated components that you want to download and include in your updated browser packages, and these items appear in the components list. 


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For more information about using the AVS feature when you run the Customization Wizard, see "Running the Microsoft Internet Explorer Customization Wizard" in this Resource Kit.

IEAK Profile Manager

When you run the Internet Explorer Customization Wizard to create your custom browser packages, you can turn on automatic configuration and automatic detection. These features enable browser settings to be automatically configured on your users' computers based on the settings you specify in IEAK profiles.

You can use the IEAK Profile Manager to create the IEAK profiles for automatic configuration as well as to update the profiles after the browser is installed. Each profile consists of an autoconfiguration .ins file and associated cabinet (.cab) files that contain information for configuring your users' browsers. For more information about automatic configuration and automatic detection, see "Using Automatic Configuration, Automatic Proxy, and Automatic Detection" in this Resource Kit.

Creating and Updating IEAK Profiles

When you use the IEAK Profile Manager to create and update IEAK profiles, you can specify two types of browser settings:

  • Wizard settings. These settings correspond to browser and component options that you initially configured in Stages 2 through 5 of the Internet Explorer Customization Wizard. 

  • Policies and restrictions. These settings correspond to options that you initially configured on the System Policies and Restrictions page in Stage 5 of the Internet Explorer Customization Wizard. 

To create and update IEAK Profiles

  1. On the Start menu, point to Programs (in Windows XP, click All Programs), point to Microsoft IEAK 6, and then click IEAK Profile Manager

  2. On the File menu, click New to create a new IEAK profile, or click Open, and then open the .ins file for an existing IEAK profile that you want to update. 

  3. On the left side of the window, click Wizard Settings or Policies and Restrictions


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  4. On the left side of the window, click each category, and then on the right side, specify the options you want. 

  5. On the File menu, click Save as. Type a name for the file, keeping its .ins extension. The default location for saving the .ins file is the \build directory\Ins\operating system\language folder. For example, an English version of the .ins file that was created for the Microsoft® Windows® 32-bit platform might be saved in the \Build1\Ins\Win32\En folder. 

Files Generated by the IEAK Profile Manager

When you save an IEAK profile, the IEAK Profile Manager generates the following files:

  • Auto-configuration .ins file. This file contains the browser and component settings that Internet Explorer uses to update the browser configuration on users' computers. You can specify these settings in the Wizard Settings section of the IEAK Profile Manager. 


  • Cabinet (.cab) files. These files are used to organize the installation files that are downloaded to users' computers. Every time you save an .ins file, the associated .cab files are automatically saved as well. 

    You should digitally sign the .cab files created by the IEAK Profile Manager. For more information about signing your .cab files, see "Preparing for the IEAK" in this Resource Kit. 


  • Information (.inf) files. Included within the .cab files, the .inf files contain the system policies and restrictions that the operating system uses to update the system configuration on users' computers. You can specify these settings in the Policies and Restrictions section of the IEAK Profile Manager. 

    Each .inf file also contains version information. The version information consists of the date the .ins file was modified and the number of times the file has been revised. When you change browser settings, the IEAK Profile Manager updates the affected .inf files and their version information and repackages the associated .cab files. 


Before updating the browser settings on your users' computers, you should copy the .ins file and the associated .cab files generated by the IEAK Profile Manager to a working directory and test the configuration. After you validate your settings, copy the new .ins file to your production server.

If you turned on automatic configuration and automatic detection, Internet Explorer downloads and processes the contents of the .ins file and makes the necessary configuration changes on users' computers. Internet Explorer also downloads and unpacks the associated .cab files for the operating system to process. If the version number of the .ins file did not change, new .cab files are not downloaded.

Creating Unique Configurations for Different Groups of Users

If you have users with different needs or if you want to change some users' configuration settings independently of others', you can create multiple IEAK profiles. You can use the IEAK Profile Manager to specify different configuration settings for each group and save them as individual usergroup.ins files, where usergroup is a unique name for each user group. The IEAK Profile Manager automatically generates the companion .cab files. For example, you could specify a unique configuration for the Finance Department and save the configuration as Finance.ins. The IEAK Profile Manager would then generate the necessary companion .cab files.

Note If you create multiple .ins files, make sure that your custom browser packages are configured to use the correct file. You can also use an automated server solution, which enables you to use multiple .ins files without rebuilding your custom packages. For more information about using an automated server solution, see "Time-saving Strategies That Address Diverse User Needs" in the Resource Kit.

Using Custom Policy Templates

The IEAK Profile Manager uses a default set of Windows policy templates, or administration (.adm) files, to define the rules for system policies and restrictions. The .adm files and system policies and restrictions are standard features of the Windows 32-bit platform. If you are familiar with .adm files, you can create your own templates to define additional restrictions. Then you can use the IEAK Profile Manager to import your own custom .adm files and include them with your updated browser settings.

The IEAK Profile Manager generates an associated .inf file, using the file prefix for the custom .adm file that you import. For example, if you import a file named Custom.adm, a Custom.inf file is generated and added to the companion .cab files. For more information about using custom .adm files, see the appendix "Setting System Policies and Restrictions" in this Resource Kit.

Note The System Policies and Restrictions settings for Windows XP and Windows 2000 are not available through the IEAK Profile Manager. To manage restrictions and policies for these operating systems, use Group Policy.

Changing the Location of an .ins File

If you need to move an .ins file to a different production server, you can use the IEAK Profile Manager to update the automatic configuration URL. This process involves updating the IEAK profile with the new automatic configuration URL, saving the profile to its existing location, and then saving the profile to its new location. When you save the package to its new location, you can specify the path for both the new .ins file and the associated .cab files. If you set an .ins file to update at a specified interval, you must allow two intervals after you update the automatic configuration URL before the change takes effect.

Note You should not remove the IEAK profile from its existing location until all client computers are using the profile at the new location.

To update the automatic configuration URL

  1. On the Start menu, point to Programs (in Windows XP, click All Programs), point to Microsoft IEAK 6, and then click IEAK Profile Manager

  2. On the File menu, click Open, and then open the .ins file from your custom browser package. 

  3. On the left side of the window under Wizard Settings, click Automatic Browser Configuration


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  4. On the right side of the window, type the new server path in the Auto-config URL (.INS file) box. 

  5. To save your updated profile to its existing location, on the File menu, click Save

  6. To save your updated profile to its new location, on the File menu, click Save as. Type a name for the file, keeping its .ins extension. 

  7. Type the new server location for your .ins file and associated .cab files to match the URL you entered. 

When the user starts the browser and the browser settings are scheduled to be updated, the pointer to the automatic configuration URL is then updated on the user's computer. At this point, the browser is still using the settings from the original .ins file (for example, http://existing path/Default.ins).

When the user starts the browser a second time and the browser settings are scheduled to be updated again, the browser reads the new .ins file (for example, http://new path/Default.ins). When you are sure that the settings on all users' computers have been updated, you can remove the copy of the .ins file from its original location.

Specifying Browser Settings for Windows XP and Windows 2000 Unattended Setup

To install Windows XP or Windows 2000 automatically, you can run Setup with an answer file, which automates the setup process. An answer file contains settings that customize Setup without user or administrator intervention. This type of Setup is often referred to as unattended Setup.

If you plan to use unattended Setup, in the branding section of the answer file, you can specify an .ins file, which contains your custom settings for Internet Explorer. Then the browser settings that you specify are automatically configured on users' computers during unattended Setup. For more details about unattended Setup, see the Resource Kits for Windows XP and Windows 2000. For more information about creating an .ins file, see "Creating and Updating IEAK Profiles" earlier in this chapter.

Update Notification Page

Internet Explorer automatically notifies your users when a new version of the browser is available. At a specified interval, the version of the browser installed on the users' computers is compared against the most current browser version that is available on the Internet. If the current browser version on the Internet is newer than the version on users' computers, the Internet Explorer home, or start, page is temporarily replaced by an update notification page when the user starts the browser.

The default update notification page is the Microsoft Windows Update page. From this page, users can download the newer version of the browser, add the update notification page to their Favorites list, or cancel the browser update. The update notification page does not force the user to install the browser update. If the user closes the browser without selecting the update or the update is not completed, the user does not see the page again until the next update interval.

If you want to force the installation of a new or updated program on your users' computers, you can use other system management tools, such as Microsoft System Management Server (SMS). For more information about using SMS, see "Using SMS to Install Microsoft Internet Explorer 6" in this Resource Kit.

Specifying a Different Update Notification Page and Update Interval

You can use either the Internet Explorer Customization Wizard or the IEAK Profile Manager to replace the URL of the default update notification page with a URL of your own custom Web page or another Web site. You can also change the update interval, which specifies how often the update notification page is displayed.

You might want to customize the update notification page for the following reasons:

  • If your users' computers do not have Internet access (which is needed to access Internet Explorer updates from Microsoft distribution sites), you must change the URL to a location on your intranet. 

    For example, you can re-create the Microsoft Windows Update page on your intranet and then redirect users to this location. The IEAK includes the necessary .asp pages and Microsoft® ActiveX® control so that you can use this Windows Update technology. For more information, see the IEAK Help. 

  • You might want to redirect users to your custom Addon.htm file rather than to the Windows Update page. For more information about Addon.htm, see "Preparing for the IEAK" in this Resource Kit. 

  • You might want to provide other information, news, or software updates at a regular interval. For software updates of programs other than Internet Explorer, the browser prompts users to install the update without comparing the update version with the version on their computers. 

  • You might want to redirect the update notification page temporarily to an executable (.exe) file for a program that you want to install on your users' computers. When the users start the browser, the .exe file begins to install the program automatically, and the update notification page does not appear. 

For more information about specifying a different URL and update interval for the update notification page when you build your custom browser packages, see "Running the Microsoft Internet Explorer Customization Wizard" in this Resource Kit.

After you deploy Internet Explorer, you can use the IEAK Profile Manager to change the settings for the update notification page.

To change the settings for the update notification page by using the IEAK Profile Manager

  1. On the Start menu, point to Programs (in Windows XP, click All Programs), point to Microsoft IEAK 6, and then click IEAK Profile Manager

  2. On the File menu, click Open, and then open the .ins file for your custom browser package. 

  3. On the left side of the window under Policies and Restrictions, click Internet Settings, and then click Component Updates


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  4. On the right side of the window, in the URL to be displayed for updates box, type the URL for your custom update notification page. 

  5. In the Update check interval (in days) box, type the number of days for the update interval. 

  6. On the File menu, click Save as. Type a name for the file, keeping its .ins extension. 

Disabling the Update Notification Page

When you use the Internet Explorer Customization Wizard to build your custom browser packages of Internet Explorer, you can disable the update notification page. For more information, see "Running the Microsoft Internet Explorer Customization Wizard" in this Resource Kit.

You can also disable the update notification page after you deploy Internet Explorer by using the IEAK Profile Manager.

To disable the update notification page by using the IEAK Profile Manager

  1. On the Start menu, point to Programs (in Windows XP, click All Programs), point to Microsoft IEAK 6, and then click IEAK Profile Manager

  2. On the File menu, click Open, and then open the .ins file from your custom browser package. 

  3. On the left side of the window, under Policies and Restrictions, click Internet Settings, and then click Advanced settings


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  4. On the right side of the window, clear the Automatically check for Internet Explorer updates check box. 

  5. On the File menu, click Save as. Type a name for the file, keeping its .ins extension. 

Note After you disable the update notification page, users can still turn on the page in the browser. To disable the page completely so that users cannot enable it in the browser, set the Update check interval to a value of 0. For more information about setting the update check interval, see "Specifying a Different Update Notification Page and Update Interval" earlier in this chapter.

Group Policy

If you installed Internet Explorer and Internet Tools on users' computers that are running Windows XP and Windows 2000, you must use the MMC with Active Directory and the IEM snap-in extension for Group Policy to customize and maintain Internet Explorer installations. This snap-in extension for Group Policy enables you to customize most of the same features that you can configure by using the IEAK. It includes Internet Explorer maintenance features to customize the browser and administrative template settings to prevent users from changing settings that you want to control.

Group Policy is a collection of settings used to define configurations for groups of users and computers. Group Policy is flexible and includes options for registry-based policy settings, security settings, software installation, scripts (during computer startup and shutdown, and to log on and log off), and folder redirection. Administrators use Group Policy to specify options for managed desktop configurations.

Administrators can apply settings to various hierarchical groups of users, known as organizational units. This structure enables an administrator to set broad standards or restrictions for a company or division while specifying exceptions for smaller departments or groups. Also you can use the Software Installation snap-in for Group Policy to manage software distribution from a centralized source in your organization. You can assign and publish software for groups of users and groups of computers.

When you use the IEM snap-in extension for Group Policy, you can also export your settings to an .ins file, which allows you to maintain the settings for other supported operating systems, such as Microsoft® Windows® 98 and Microsoft® Windows NT® 4.0 with Service Pack 6 (SP6), by using the IEAK Profile Manager. For more information about exporting Group Policy settings, see "Exporting Group Policy Settings for Internet Explorer" later in this chapter.

For information about the MMC, Active Directory, and the IEM snap-in extension for Group Policy, see Help and the Resource Kits for Windows XP and Windows 2000.

Customizing Internet Explorer with Group Policy

You can customize the following areas by using the IEM snap-in extension for Group Policy:

  • The user interface and the appearance of the browser 

  • Connection settings, such as dial-up and local area network (LAN) connections and user agent string 

  • Custom URLs, such as favorites, the search page, and the home page 

  • Security settings, such as security zones and content ratings 

  • Default programs for common Internet tasks, such as reading e-mail and viewing newsgroups 


Before you open the MMC and begin configuring Group Policy settings for your users, you can view the Internet Explorer features that are available for customization by running Gpedit.msc on your local computer. This opens the IEM snap-in extension for Group Policy and allows you to review the configuration pages and available settings.

To run Gpedit.msc on your local computer

  1. On the Start menu, click Run

  2. In the Open text box, type GPEDIT.MSC, and then click OK

For information about running the IEM snap-in extension for Group Policy and configuring Group Policy setting for your users, see Help and Resource Kits for Windows XP and Windows 2000.

Exporting Group Policy Settings for Internet Explorer

You can use Group Policy in Windows XP and Windows 2000 to export all of the Internet Explorer settings to an .ins file and, if necessary, to .cab files. These settings can then be used for automatic configuration on computers that run other operating systems.

Note Only the Internet Explorer maintenance features in Group Policy are exported. You can specify administrative template settings for your custom browser package by using either the Internet Explorer Customization Wizard or the IEAK Profile Manager.

To export all of the Internet Explorer settings to an .ins file

  1. In Group Policy, right-click the Internet Explorer screen that contains the settings you want to export. 

  2. Click Export Browser Settings

  3. Type the names of the .ins file and, if applicable, the .cab files where you want to export the settings. 

  4. Type the URL where the files are located on the Web server. 

For more information about the automatic configuration feature, see "Using Automatic Configuration, Automatic Proxy, and Automatic Detection" in this Resource Kit.



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