OCS – Deploying Office Communicator via GPO

Utilising Group Policy Object’s (GPO) to deploy software has always been a favourite of mine, the ability to deploy software packages to thousands of workstations in what can be a few clicks of a mouse. This method is certainly no exception when deploying Office Communicator 2007 R2 in your environment. Below is method I have used to both deploy the software and ensure it is running the latest Communicator hotfix.

1. On your workstation download a copy of the Office Communicator 2007 R2 installation package, which is commonly named communicator.msi. Also, download yourself a copy of the latest communicator hotfix (KB2028888), this file will be named communicator.msp. Save these files to the root of your workstations C:\ drive.

2. On your workstation create a new folder on your C: drive called “Communicator”, we’ll use this folder in a few steps time.

3. The first thing we need to do is to unpack the Communicator.msi file so that we can patch it’s content using the latest hotfix. Open a new command prompt window and navigate to the root of your C:\ drive where the Communicator.msi and Communicator.msp files were stored. So for example at the command prompt enter, without quotations:

“cd c:\”

Once you have changed directory to the communicator folder, you can then run the msiexec command to un-package the communicator installation to the “Communicator” folder we created in step 2. Type the following in the command prompt to perform this action, without quotations:

“msiexec /a communicator.msi TARGETDIR=C:\communicator”

 4. What you should now find, is that in the “Communicator” folder there are two sub-folders (PFiles & Windows) and a communicator.msi file. These are the extracted contents from the original package. Now we have these contents we can patch them with the latest hotfix. In the same command prompt window we used in step 3, run the following command without quotations.

“msiexec /p communicator.msp /a c:\communicator\communicator.msi”

Once this is complete, the files in the “Communicator” folder have now been patched. You should notice that the communicator.msi file in the folder will have grown slightly in size when the patch is applied.

5. Now that we have the patched package content, copy the entry “Communicator” folder to a network share that is accessible to all users. You may already have a network share for GPO packages, however if you do not you will need to make sure that everyone has at least read permissions on the folder in order for the software to install.

6. You can now proceed and create a new Group Policy Object in the Group Policy Management  Console (GPMC) for the communicator. Once you have created a new GPO with a name of your choice, perform the following steps.

7. Right click and select edit on your created GPO. In the GPO Editor window, select either the “Computer Configuration” or “User Configuration” nodes depending on your preferred deployment method.

8. Expand “Software Settings” and then right click “Software Installation” and select “New Package”.

9. In the New Package dialog box, browse to the UNC path of the shared folder you created in step 5 and select the Communicator.msi file and click ok.

10. Link the created GPO to the organisational unit of your choice and instruct your end users to reboot their workstations for the changes to take affect.

 You can find additional information on Communicator client installations at the following URL: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd637160(office.13).aspx

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