Introduction

Published: November 30, 2006

When a user calls the help desk for assistance with an application, the help desk may not have information about how the application was installed and configured, which can make troubleshooting an application difficult. The same application is often installed differently on each computer depending on who performed the installation.

In recent years, many organizations have solved this problem by automating the installation and configuration of the applications they use. This automation is often referred to as packaging the application, application packaging, or scripted installations. Whatever the process name, the results are the same: consistent and reliable application deployment.

When an application is packaged, the person who runs the installation typically has no control over what the installation does. The person doing the packaging has made the decisions about where to install the application and which settings or options to choose. The result is an executable that is simple to install, typically involving double-clicking or typing one line of information to launch and run the complete installation. This automation helps ensure that application installations are well known, consistent, tested, and approved in advance. This result is more stable client computers and applications, and it often reduces the number of calls to the help desk.

Despite the advantages of packaging, a lack of industry standards about how application installations are conducted can create difficulties in automating application installations. Although many new applications include Windows Installer packages or other standardized methods for installation automation, legacy applications and applications developed in-house may not.

BDD 2007 distinguishes between two kinds of applications: core and supplemental. Core applications, such as Microsoft Office programs, are built into the client computer images that organizations deploy so that all users in the organization have the application. Supplemental applications, such as Microsoft Office Project, are installed on a user-by-user basis as necessary. Although this distinction is important in planning which applications form the business core infrastructure and which are optional, it does not change the process followed at the packaging stage. Hence, throughout this guide, the terms core application and supplemental application can be used synonymously. The goal of this guide is to demonstrate the various methods available for ensuring the integrity and consistency of the applications during the desktop deployment. This implies not that the application is Microsoft certified for Windows XP and Windows Vista but that it can be installed on a computer without user intervention.

This guide shows how to incorporate core applications into the base operating system image to ensure that all deployed computers have an automated, consistent, and stable implementation of these applications. This guide also describes how to package supplemental applications that can be used with BDD 2007. Specific guidance for incorporating 2007 Office system applications into a BDD 2007 image is available in the Office Deployment Guide.

The information in this guide includes many sources, such as the Windows resource kits, Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN®), Macrovision, and best practices that Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) has collected.

On This Page

Background Background
Prerequisites Prerequisites
Education and References Education and References

Background

The work this document describes typically starts in the MSF Planning Phase, during which information is collected. It continues through the Developing and Stabilizing Phases, during which the desktop applications’ installation is designed, built, tested, and piloted until it is approved for release to the Deploying Phase.

The primary consumer for this guide is the MSF Development Role Cluster, because most of this guide focuses on the development work needed to create custom deployment packages.

The application-packaging process uses the information obtained from the application inventory process as the key factor in deciding which applications to package and in which order. Experience has shown that application packaging is the task in computer deployment that takes the most lead time. For this reason, begin the application-packaging process as soon as the project has been approved.

Prerequisites

To create a custom installation, the lab requires the following items:

  • A list of applications to be packaged for deployment

  • The source media for each application

  • A point of contact for each application

  • Packaging software

  • A license for all software being repackaged

  • A network share on which to store the application installation files

  • A computer for installing, configuring, and customizing the applications

Note   Specific prerequisites for 2007 Office system programs are available in the Office Deployment Guide.

Prerequisites for other applications vary, and the Application Management feature team must have the applications’ source files and the tools necessary to customize the applications. Some applications are not packaged to allow installation without user interaction. For these applications, the Application Management feature team must have repackaging tools with which it can create a Windows Installer setup database.

This guide makes the following assumptions:

  • The reader is familiar with automated application deployment, whether through unattended Microsoft Setup, Windows Installer, Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) Installer, or any installer-type product—for example, InstallShield.

  • Documentation will be provided for installation of and testing procedures for the application to be deployed.

  • Applications that are deployed or repackaged will be installed in C:\Program Files\Application.

  • The reader has experience with scripting or programming.

  • If the reader is using a non-Microsoft tool to repackage applications, the reader has received advanced training for using the chosen tool.

  • The reader has access to a Microsoft TechNet subscription.

Education and References

The following sources of education and references are available for deploying Microsoft applications:

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