Tips and Tricks

QuickTip: Next, Next, Repeat

Software installation might sound like instructions on the back of the shampoo bottle. But it doesn't have to be that way.

The hardest part of a software installation is often the walk between desktops. When you're in charge of a massive software installation using just manual methods, your shoes will wear as much as your mouse-clicking finger.

But software needn't be installed using the "Next, Next, Finish" method. Achieve the same result on hundreds of machines as on a single one through packaging and automated deployment.

With a little technique and the right tools, you can deploy virtually any piece of software through Active Directory. The deployment process is relatively simple. Check out

One free tool that's perfect for helping the small environment with repackaging is

WinINSTALL LE. It enables a great set of functionality for turning difficult installs into easy, automated installs. The process goes like this:

  1. From a fresh OS installation, install the WinINSTALL LE software and run its Discover tool.
  2. Install your software of choice and rerun the Discover tool again.

WinINSTALL LE will determine what files and registry entries changed between the two snapshots and package up the "diffs" into a new .MSI file. With this file in hand, you're ready for testing and, ultimately, a large-scale deployment.

About the Author

Greg Shields is a senior partner and principal technologist with Concentrated Technology. He also serves as a contributing editor and columnist for TechNet Magazine and Redmond magazine, and is a highly sought-after and top-ranked speaker for live and recorded events. Greg can be found at numerous IT conferences such as TechEd, MMS and VMworld, among others, and has served as conference chair for 1105 Media’s TechMentor Conference since 2005. Greg has been a multiple recipient of both the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional and VMware vExpert award.

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