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In part 1 of this series we learned that the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK) is a free, version-specific software package from Microsoft that enables IT administrators to deploy and maintain the Microsoft Internet Explorer Web browser for their users/customers.
It is important for us to remember that IEAK sets initial defaults only in Internet Explorer. In other words, there is no provision in IEAK that would prevent users from changing those initial defaults, post installation.
Therefore, we must use Group Policy Objects (GPOs) to force users to keep our preferred default values. (We will cover Group Policy lockdown of IE in a future installment.)
Now that we have IEAK installed, we will turn our attention to building a custom installation package for deployment on our corporate intranet. To accomplish this goal, we must first have installed IEAK on our administrative workstation by specifying the Internal Distribution via a Corporate Intranet option.
Using the Internet Explorer Customization Wizard ^
From the Start menu on your administrative workstation, fire up the Internet Explorer Customization Wizard and click Next past the Welcome screen.
NOTE: Because of the enormous number of screens in the Internet Explorer Customization Wizard, I’ve removed screenshots of many of them, instead concentrating on the dialog boxes that contain important decision points for administrators.
IEAK Welcome screen
The File Locations dialog box asks us to specify a file location to house our IE builds. Each IE9 build weighs in at approximately 35 MB, so you won’t need a great deal of disk storage for this build location.
File Locations dialog box
Note in the Platform Selection drop-down that you can create IE9 builds that target both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows systems.
Platform Selection dialog box
The IEAK team has localized the Internet Explorer 9 bits into over 20 world languages.
Language Selection dialog box
If you plan to deploy a custom build of IE 9 on your intranet, then make sure to select the File option in the Media Selection dialog box. We will cover the configuration-only scenario in a future installment of this series.
Media Selection dialog box
In the Feature Selection dialog, we really start to get down to the dirty business of specifying IE 9 preferences. There is much to choose from here; please consult the IEAK documentation for details on each IE 9 feature.
Feature Selection dialog box
The Automatic Version Synchronization screen requires an Internet connection because we need to download the latest IE9 bits from Microsoft.com to your administrative workstation.
Automatic Version Synchronization dialog box
The Custom Components dialog box enables us to include third-party components like toolbars into our custom IE build. We can instruct IEAK to install these components prior to IE installation, immediately post installation, or after a system restart post installation.
Custom Components dialog box
The User Experience page is important because we need to determine (a) how much interaction we want our users to have with the custom IE 9 installation; and (b) how aggressive we want IEAK to be with regard to requesting or forcing system restarts.
User Experience dialog box
Let us summarize the next several Customization Wizard screens for you:
- Browser User Interface: Customize browser title bar text; customize IE toolbar
- Search Providers: Customize IE 9 search provider list
- Important URLs: Specify home page(s) and corporate support page URLs
- Accelerators: Customize the default list of IE 9 Accelerators
- Favorites, Favorites Bar and Feeds: Pre-populate the user’s Favorites and RSS feeds
- First Run Wizard and Welcome Page Options: Allow or deny the Internet Explorer 9 First Run Wizard and the default Welcome page
- Compatibility View: Set either IE9 standards mode or IE7 compatibility mode
- Connection Manager: Attach a Connection Manager Administration Kit (CMAK) connection profile to IE9 to facilitate user remote access (dial-up or VPN)
The Automatic Configuration dialog box is important if we plan to lock down IE9 post-installation by using Group Policy. Note that we have to not only enable Automatic Configuration but also specify the URL of our IE9 update .INS file.
NOTE: We will work more with IE9 Automatic Configuration in a future installment of this series.
Automatic Configuration dialog box
Here are some more screens, presented in sequence:
- Proxy Settings: Specify a proxy server address for HTTP, HTTPS, and FTP.
- Security and Privacy Settings: Customize security zones, cookie management, and content ratings
- Programs: Associate applications with various Internet-oriented file types (ie Apple QuickTime to play .MOV files)
I see the Additional Settings dialog as a sort of “catch all bucket” for a whole boatload of IE settings. Perhaps the IEAK team wanted to cap the number of additional dialogs they use for the Customization Wizard!
Additional Settings dialog box
Finally! Once we have completed all of the configuration dialog boxes, the Customization Wizard builds the package and stores it in your build directory.
Building your package
Wizard Complete dialog box
For our purposes, that of deploying the custom IE 9 package to our corporate intranet users, we want the \FLAT subdirectory within our IEAK build directory. In particular, we are interested in the Microsoft Installer (.MSI) file.
The FLAT build directory
All of your build settings are stored in the \INS subdirectory within your IEAK build directory. Specifically, the INSTALL.INS file represents our build manifest.
The INS build directory
Now that we have built our custom IE9 installation package, our next step is to use Windows Server 2008 Group Policy to deploy IE9 to our users. We will cover that procedure in the next installment. In the meantime, please feel free to leave comments, questions, and suggestions in the comments portion of this post. Thanks for reading and take care!