created: 2011-Sept-22, last modified: 2013-May-29
created: 2011-Sept-22, last modified: 2013-May-29


GPO (group policy objects) are used to distribute settings to windows PCs that are members of a domain from a windows server.

They can also be used for automatic mass deployment of MSI software packages.

GPO software distribution enables an IT admin to fully automatically install and update software. It doesn't matter how many PCs need the software. There's no need to go to all these PCs. You don't need to install additional software, it's already included in Windows, it doesn't even cost additional license fee.


Always test the deployment of a new msi-file one one or several PCs, before deploying to all. Do a full install, remove, reinstall sequence, because some problems only become apparant during uninstall, for example when you later want to update to the next version.

Why should I disable the auto-update feature of deployed software?
It would interfere with you providing updates in form of new MSI-files. Mixing two different versions can create a mess, that can be tricky to clean up. I found that if it happened, this can help: right-click the originally installed MSI-file, select repair. Right-click again, select uninstall. Run the setup.exe for the other version that was installed. Run appwiz.cpl and uninstall it again. Now both should be removed.

How to switch from locally installed files to GPO deployment?
Usually you should first uninstall the locally installed software software, before deploying the same software, or a newer version of it, via GPO. Otherwise the PCs can end up with a mixture of both variants, duplicate entries in add/remove software etc. This can happen even if the distributer of the software says that the installer automatically removes all older versions. I've seen this happen with Java. Hover later with Java version 1.7.13 deployed over locally installed 1.7.9 seemed to work fine. Also Adobe Reader 11.0.3 deployed over locally installed version 9.4 or 10.1.4 seems to work fine.

What must I observe when deploying MSI-files?
Always activate the option that the software will be removed when it's no longer in GPO (otherwise you cannot remove it). Make sure than when you deploy updates, always select the previous versions to be uninstalled before the new gets installed.