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Deploying Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 by Using Active Directory

Visual Studio .NET 2003

Rishi Rana, Aaron Stebner, Valentina Keremidarska
Visual Studio and the .NET Framework Setup/Release Team
Microsoft Corporation

July 2003

Applies to:
   Group Policy Active Directory
   Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003
   Microsoft .NET Framework version 1.1
   Visual J#® .NET version 1.1 Redistributable Package

Summary: Many customers, such as universities, need to deploy Microsoft® Visual Studio® .NET 2003 (English) to remote labs, but settings in setup block deployment. This white paper describes the procedures for using the Group Policy feature of Active Directory® to deploy the Visual Studio .NET 2003 setup package across a network. This paper is provided for informational purposes only (see Proprietary Notice). It is your responsibility to review your license agreement for Visual Studio .NET 2003 and any other applicable software license prior to utilizing this solution. Microsoft technical and customer support is not available for this solution. Newsgroups listed in the Conclusion section below might be of some assistance. (10 printed pages)

Download the solution files from the Microsoft Download Center.


Deploying the .NET Framework and Visual J# .NET version 1.1 Redistributable Package
Creating a Visual Studio .NET 2003 Package for Deployment via Group Policy
Prerequisites for Deploying Visual Studio .NET 2003
Proprietary Notice


Active Directory presents organizations with a directory service designed for distributed computing environments. It enables organizations to centrally manage and share information on network resources and users while acting as the central authority for network security. The Group Policy feature enables administrators to define and control the policies governing groups of computers and users within their organization.

Group Policy is the backbone behind the Change and Configuration Management features of IntelliMirror® technology in software distribution for Active Directory. IntelliMirror uses Active Directory services and Group Policy to provide policy-based management of users' desktops. It installs required software before the user logs onto the network through centrally defined policies based on the user's business roles, group memberships, and location. For additional Active Directory product information and documentation, see the Active Directory Home Page.

To deploy the Visual Studio .NET 2003 setup package with administrator privileges, you must ensure machines on which you are deploying meet the Prerequisites for Deployment. These prerequisites must be installed on the client machines before proceeding with deployment of Visual Studio .NET 2003. The prerequisites must either be installed on each computer individually or via Systems Management Server. However, in case of prerequisites like the .NET Framework and Visual J# .NET version 1.1 Redistributable Package, please refer to the section below on deployment via Group Policy. For all other prerequisites details, see Deploying Visual Studio .NET 2003 by Using Systems Management Servers.

This solution will work only for the Professional, Enterprise Developer, and Enterprise Architect versions of Visual Studio .NET 2003.

Deploying the .NET Framework and Visual J# .NET version 1.1 Redistributable Package

As part of meeting the Prerequisites for Deployment, you can use the Framework and J# deployment instructions to deploy these packages via Group Policy.

When you finish deploying the .NET Framework and Visual J# .NET version 1.1 Redistributable Package on client machines — along with other prerequisites — you can proceed to the next step of deploying Visual Studio .NET.

Creating a Visual Studio .NET 2003 Package for Deployment via Group Policy

Before using any tools, download the transform file, VS2003Tran.mst, which is an integral part of this deployment solution.

VS2003Tran.mst is a transform file that sets all the properties necessary for Group Policy to read the MSI file (VS_Setup.msi) for successful deployment.

  • In Windows Installer terminology, a relational database contains information about components, features, and setup properties. A transform is based on a particular package and contains the modifications to apply to that package during installation. In this solution, we have created this file for you; you can use it for deployment.
  • This transform provides a full install at the default install location of Visual Studio .NET 2003. You will need to provide a license or PID-key to in order for deployment to work.

Using Group Policy Object to Create Deployment

Create an Administrative Installation share of Visual Studio .NET 2003 and all its files. An Administrative installation point is created by running Setup with the /a command-line option; it contains all the Visual Studio .NET 2003 files. You must have write access to the administrative installation point on the server and the appropriate privileges to carry out the task.

  1. On the Start menu, click Run and then type the command line for Windows Installer with the appropriate options for your installation. Use the following syntax: [start] msiexec /a [path\name of MSI file] TRANSFORMS = VS2003Tran.mst PIDKEY = <25 character product key with no spaces or dashes >

    If you are attempting to deploy a Visual Studio edition that includes a product key that is pre-populated by setup, you can locate the product key to enter in this command line using the following steps:

    • Navigate to the setup folder on the root of the Visual Studio CD1 or DVD.
    • Open the file setup.sdb in a text editor such as Notepad.
    • Locate the section named [Product Key] and take note of the value of the product key on the next line in this file.

    You can also use optional commands. Use the following syntax for all commands: [start] msiexec /p [path\name of update MSP file]/a [path\name of MSI file] /qb /L*v [path\name of log file] TRANSFORMS = VS2003Tran.mst PIDKEY = <25 character product key with no spaces or dashes>TARGETDIR= [path\name of target folder]

    The following table contains all the command-line options and their descriptions.

    Command-line option Description
    [start] Required only for Windows 98 systems where Msiexec is not directly in the path.
    Msiexec Executable file name for Windows Installer.
    /p Enables Windows Installer to apply an update to an existing installation.
    [path\name of update MSP file] Path and file name of the MSP file for the update.
    /a Enables Windows Installer to perform an administrative installation of a product on a network share.
    [path\name of MSI file] Path and file name of the Windows Installer package for your original administrative image.
    /qb Sets the user interface to the basic level (simple progress and error handling).
    /L*v Turns on logging and sets a path for the log file. The *v flag causes the switch to log all information.
    [path\name of log file] Path and file name of the Windows Installer log file. If none is given, look for MSI*.log in the temp folder of the machine where command was run.
    [path\name of target folder] Path and name of the target folder where admin image will live.
  2. Click Start, point to Programs, and then point to Administrative Tools.
  3. Click Active Directory Users and Computers. The Active Directory Users and Computers tree is displayed.
  4. Right-click the domain node at the top of the tree. Click Properties on the shortcut menu. The Properties dialog box is displayed.
  5. Click the Group Policy tab.
  6. Click the Edit button. A window is displayed with the Default Domain Policy tree.
  7. You can choose from two alternatives for how the software will be assigned. You can select the Computer Configuration node in Group Policy to set policies that are applied to computers, regardless of who logs on to them. Alternatively, you can select the User Configuration node in Group Policy to set policies that apply to users, regardless of the logon computer. For our scenarios, we should select and expand the Computer Configuration node.

    Figure 1   Group Policy Tab

Installing the Software

  1. Right-click Software installation. Point to New, and then click Package on the shortcut menu.
  2. A dialog box is displayed that prompts you for the path to the Windows Installer file (.msi) for the package. Browse to the location where you copied the Visual Studio .NET 2003 files, and click the VS_setup.msi file.

    Figure 2   Deploy Software Dialog Box

  3. Choose the Advanced published or assigned selection and click the OK button. You need to select this so that you can add the transform created above. After you choose the advanced option, you can then choose from the following options for deployment. Details can be found in the Deployment Tab section.
    • Assign to Machines
    • Assign to Users
    • Publish to Users
  4. A window where you can choose to auto install or publish the software is displayed. If you choose Auto Install, the software will be installed automatically on every computer in the domain. After you have modified all necessary items, click the OK button. For this solution, we recommend using Assign to Machines option only.

Verifying that the Package is Ready to be Deployed

After you complete the setting up of the Visual Studio .NET 2003 setup package in Group Policy, the next step is to verify that the package is available for installation. The following instructions specify how administrators need to modify settings for the newly created package within Active Directory.

General tab
When administrators assign the Visual Studio .NET 2003 setup package, relevant information about the package is automatically displayed on the General tab.
Deployment tab
On the Deployment tab, administrators specify whether to publish or assign the Visual Studio .NET 2003 deployment package. Note that if an administrator chooses to open the snap-in under Computer Configuration, the Published option is unavailable.

Under Deployment options, select check boxes to specify when and how the Visual Studio .NET 2003 deployment package is assigned to users' computers. For other options, please check for details in the Group Policy Help.

Under Installation user interface options, administrator can specify how much of Visual Studio Setup is displayed to users during the installation process. The recommended setting (and the default) is Basic, which installs Visual Studio .NET 2003 quietly and requires no user interaction. (The Basic setting corresponds to the /qb command-line option.).

In the Deployment options section, choose Assigned:

  • Assign to Machines
  • Assign to Users

    Figure 3   Deployment Tab

To set additional deployment options, click Advanced. In the Advanced Deployment Options dialog box, you can:

  • Specify that Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 should install Visual Studio .NET 2003 even if the installation language differs from the Windows 2000 or the Windows Server 2003 installation language.
  • Remove unmanaged Visual Studio .NET 2003 installations when you deploy Visual Studio .NET through Group Policy software installation and maintenance.
Upgrades tab
If you are already managing a Visual Studio .NET 2003 installation, you can use the Upgrades tab to deploy a new version of the product.
Categories tab
Associating Visual Studio .NET 2003 with a category can make Visual Studio .NET 2003 appear in Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel when publishing is selected. However, for this solution we recommend using the Assign to machine option.
Modifications tab
Use the Modifications tab to apply a transform (VS2003Tran.MST file) to your Visual Studio .NET 2003 installation. This is the same file that you used to create admin installation point on Using Group Policy object to create deployment. Click Add, select your transform, and then click Open to add it to the Modifications tab.

Figure 4   Modifications Tab

Security tab
The Security tab displays standard Windows 2000 based security options. You can fine-tune your Visual Studio .NET 2003 deployment by filtering the Group Policy software installation settings through ACLs.

Setting Elevated Privileges via Group Policy

Because the Visual Studio .NET 2003 package, like most packages, allows only local administrators of the machine to install the package, IT administrators should use elevated privileges to advertise the package per-machine or per-user in Group Policy.

Administrators can create policies for one user, one computer, or a group of users. If administrators need to enforce a set of policies for one individual, they can create a policy for this user, and the policy will be applied when the user logs on. See the System Policy Editor Help for more information on creating special policy profiles. Also, see the Group Policy snap-in Help for more information on configuring policies.

The following steps specify how to set this policy for deploying Visual Studio .NET 2003.

  1. On the Start menu, point to Programs, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. In the console tree, right-click the domain or organizational unit for which you want to set the policy.
  3. Click Properties, and then click the Group Policy tab.
  4. Select a Group Policy Object in the Group Policy Objects Links box and click Edit.
  5. Open the Local Computer Policy\Administrative Templates\Windows Component\Windows Installer folder.
  6. In the details pane, double-click the Always install with elevated privileges policy.
  7. In the Group Policy Property dialog box, enable the policy, select the check box to turn the setting on, and then click OK.
  8. Open the User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Component\Windows Installer folder and repeat Steps 6 and 7.

You can use the System Policy Editor and Windows Installer policy to set the Always install with elevated privileges policy. You must set the policy for the computer and for each user. If you choose not to use the Group Policy Editor or the System Policy Editor, you can specify the same setting on each computer by changing a value in the Windows registry. This is detailed in Figure 5.

Figure 5   Group Policy Property Dialog Box

Verifying that the Recently Created Active Directory Package can be Installed

  1. Restart one of the client computers where Visual Studio .NET 2003 was deployed.
  2. Log on to this recently restarted computer and verify that Visual Studio .NET 2003 has been installed. Remember, you need to be an administrator on the local machine to work on Visual Studio .NET 2003. For details on how to let users on the client machines function as non-administrators and still utilize Visual Studio, see the article on Developing Software In Visual Studio With Non-Administrative Privileges.
    Note   Do not choose Cancel on the Windows Installer dialog box that appears when the product starts.

Prerequisites for Deploying Visual Studio .NET 2003

Before you can install Visual Studio .NET 2003 on a client computer, the client computer must have all the system components that Visual Studio .NET 2003 requires. The network administrator must verify that all client computers have the required system components.

Note   Microsoft recommends that you deploy the components in the order that they are listed. For example, because the Microsoft .NET Framework requires that you install Microsoft Windows Installer 2.0 first, Windows Installer 2.0 is listed before the .NET Framework.
Tip   If you plan to develop Microsoft ASP.NET Web applications or Web services, install Microsoft Internet Information Services before you install other components.

Prerequisites for deploying on Windows 2003 Server

  • Microsoft FrontPage® 2000 Web Extensions Client
  • Microsoft Visual J# .NET version 1.1 Redistributable Package (see deployment details in section above)

Prerequisites for deploying on Windows 2000

  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 3
  • Microsoft FrontPage 2000 Web Extensions Client
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 Service Pack 1 (For deploying via Group Policy, see the Internet Explorer Setup MSI Wrapper Administrators Guide.)
  • Microsoft Data Access Components 2.7 Service Pack 1
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 (see deployment details in section above)
  • Microsoft Visual J# .NET version 1.1 Redistributable Package (see deployment details in section above)

Prerequisites for deploying on Windows XP

Installing the Required Components

Each system component that Visual Studio .NET 2003 requires is located on the Visual Studio .NET Prerequisites CD-ROM or in the WCU folder of the Visual Studio .NET DVD-ROM. Following is a list of some of the folder locations for these components:

  • The Internet Explorer 6.0 SP1 package is located in the IE60SP1 folder.
  • The Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 package is located in the dotNetFramework folder.
    Note   For Visual Studio .NET 2003 to run correctly, you must deploy the version of the .NET Framework that is located in the dotNetFramework folder of the prerequisites CD-ROM.


This solution will allow you to deploy Visual Studio .NET 2003 across a network via Group Policy in Active Directory. Microsoft technical and customer support is not available for this solution. The Newsgroups listed below might be of some assistance.


Proprietary Notice

The information contained in this document represents the current view of Microsoft Corporation on the issues discussed as of the date of publication. Because Microsoft must respond to changing market conditions, it should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Microsoft, and Microsoft cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication.


Complying with all applicable copyright laws is the responsibility of the user. Without limiting the rights under copyright, no part of this document may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), or for any purpose, without the express written permission of Microsoft Corporation.

Microsoft may have patents, patent applications, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property rights covering subject matter in this document. Except as expressly provided in any written license agreement from Microsoft, the furnishing of this document does not give you any license to these patents, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property.

© 2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Microsoft, Active Directory, FrontPage, IntelliMirror, Visual J# .NET, and Visual Studio .NET 2003 are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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