This article introduces a brand-new freeware utility from EMCO that can help you to collect information about installed programs and patches from network PCs and track installation changes remotely.

Submitted by Igor Vinnykov

According to the Windows 7 Programs and Components info, I have 85 applications and 118 updates installed on my PC. No doubt, it's hard to keep in mind all these installed programs even for a single PC, and I have to open the Programs and Components view every time I need to check the software installed on the PCs in my network. If you use the same approach when you need to audit installed software, let me show how you can optimize your software inventory procedures using the free Network Software Scanner utility from EMCO Software.

Installed Programs -The Welcome screen of EMCO Network Software Scanner

The Welcome screen of EMCO Network Software Scanner

EMCO Network Software Scanner Overview ^

As it should be evident from its name, EMCO Network Software Scanner is a network application that allows scanning network PCs to collect information about installed software. The collected information is stored in a centralized database and can be referred to anytime. Thus, you can use the application to check the list of installed software on a particular PC, detect changes in the list of installed application, export the software inventory information to a file and perform other actions. Let's see how these features work.

The Application Requirements ^

In order to use the application, you should have an administrative access to the network PCs, because otherwise Windows security won't allow you to connect to remote computers and extract software inventory information. It is worth mentioning that the application extracts inventory info directly from Windows Registry and doesn't use WMI, so it should work in most network environments with no specific configuration of client computers required. If the application can't connect to a remote PC or can't extract information from it, a detailed error report is shown on the Application Log tab with useful hints how to resolve the problem, so it worth checking the log in case of problems.

Installed Software Scanning ^

To start a network scanning, you can click the Enumeration Wizard button on the Welcome screen. You will be prompted to select the enumeration scope by choosing from the available domains and workgroups or specifying the IP range of PCs manually. Once a scanning is started, you can start reviewing the scan results for already scanned PCs immediately, without waiting for the entire scan to complete. To see the scan results, switch to the Machine Scans tab and select the required PC in the Network Browser.

Installed Programs - The list of installed applications on a selected PC

The list of installed applications on a selected PC

Installed Software Audit ^

For every PC, the application can display a list of installed applications and updates. Applications and updates are displayed in different views, and you can switch between them using the toolbar buttons. The default inventory view displays only general inventory information such as Application Name, Publisher and Version in the same way this info is displayed in the Programs and Components view in Windows. However, you can see more information if you choose to display additional columns in the grid. All the collected inventory information is also available when you export the data to a CSV file. Besides, you can use this information to create custom software inventory reports, if you like.

Using the described approach, you can collect software inventory information from network PCs, but what about auditing changes? That’s quite easy. You may notice that every time you perform a scan the application creates a new scan entry with a list of detected installations and updates, so you can compare two scans to see the applications and updates that were installed or uninstalled in the meantime. Any detected changes are displayed in a special view on the screen and can be exported to a file.

Installed Porgrams - The detected installation changes

The detected installation changes

Conclusion ^

You can use EMCO Network Software Scanner as a basic software audit tool that can help you to quickly collect software inventory information from all PCs in the entire network, audit installation changes and export the collected data to files.

EMCO Network Software Scanner ^

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