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How to: Deploy the .NET Framework by Using Active Directory


This topic applies only to the .NET Framework version 1.0 redistributable package. For information about deploying the .NET Framework version 1.1 core redistributable, see the .NET Framework Deployment Guide Web site at

Microsoft Active Directory allows you to deploy software with administrator privileges across a network. This section describes the specific procedures for using Active Directory to deploy the Windows Installer setup package for Dotnetfx.exe across a network. For additional Active Directory product information and documentation, see the Active Directory Home Page.

Before you can install a Windows Installer setup package on an Active Directory client computer, the client computer must have the Windows Installer installation service installed. The procedures described in this section assume that Windows Installer 2.0 is installed on all client computers prior to the deployment of Dotnetfx.exe. Windows Installer 2.0 is available for download from the MSDN Download Center at Note that these installer files are not designed for deployment using Active Directory. They must either be installed on each computer individually or electronically using Microsoft Systems Management Server.

After the network administrator has ensured that all networked computers on which Dotnetfx.exe will be installed meet the minimum configuration requirements, perform the following tasks and their individual procedures in the order presented.

First, extract the Dotnetfx.exe file that you will use to deploy the .NET Framework.

To extract the Dotnetfx.exe file to deploy the .NET Framework

  1. Download Dotnetfx.exe to the root directory of drive C on your local computer.

  2. Open a command prompt.

  3. Change the directory to the root of drive C.

  4. Type mkdir dotnetfx at the command prompt to create a directory in which to copy Dotnetfx.exe.

  5. Type dotnetfx.exe /T:c:\dotnetfx /C at the command prompt to extract the files to the dotnetfx directory.

  6. Close the command prompt window.

  7. Navigate to the C:\dotnetfx folder in Windows Explorer and verify that the files were extracted.

  8. Move the dotnetfx folder and all its contents to the server that you will use for deployment.

After you have moved the dotnetfx folder to the proper location for deployment, create an Active Directory package for the .NET Framework.

To create a .NET Framework package in Active Directory

  1. Click the Start button, point to Programs, and then point to Administrative Tools. Click Active Directory Users and Computers. The Active Directory Users and Computers console is displayed.

  2. Right-click the domain node at the top of the tree. Click Properties on the shortcut menu. The Properties dialog box is displayed.

  3. Click the Group Policy tab.

  4. Click the Edit button. A window is displayed with the Default Domain Policy tree.

  5. There are two alternatives when choosing 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 the purpose of this example, select and expand the User Configuration node. Expand the Software Settings folder located under the User Configuration node.

  6. Right-click Software Installation. Point to New, and then click Package on the shortcut menu. A dialog box is displayed that prompts you for the path to the Windows Installer file (.msi file) for the package.

  7. Browse to the location where you copied the dotnetfx folder, and click the Netfx.msi file.

  8. Choose the Advanced Published or Assigned option and click OK. A window is displayed where you can choose either Auto Install or Publish.

    If you choose Auto Install, the software is installed automatically on every computer in the domain. If you choose Publish, the software is added to the list of available products, but is not installed unless a user chooses to install it.

  9. After you have modified all necessary items, click OK.

  10. Exit the Active Directory Users and Computers console.

After you complete the setup of the .NET Framework package in Active Directory, the next step is to verify that the package is available for installation.

To verify an Active Directory package

  1. Log on to any computer that is a part of the domain. Click the Start button, point to Control Panel, and then click Add or Remove Programs.

  2. Click the Add New Programs button. The .NET Framework installation package should appear in the list of available software.

  3. If the .NET Framework installation package does not appear in the list of available software, the package is incorrectly configured in Active Directory. Return to the Active Directory Users and Computers console and double-click the package to reconfigure it.

If the network administrator chooses the Publish option when creating the .NET Framework package in Active Directory, the package is added to the list of software available to computers in the domain. Users who want to install the package can follow the next procedure on a client computer.

To install the .NET Framework package

  1. Click the Start button, point to Control Panel, and then click Add or Remove Programs.

  2. Click the Add New Programs button.

  3. In the list of available software, select the .NET Framework package and click the Add button. This will launch Microsoft .NET Framework Setup.


    Windows Installer 2.0 must be installed on the client computer prior to launching Microsoft .NET Framework Setup. Setup will fail if Windows Installer 2.0 is not installed.

  4. When the installer displays the Microsoft .NET Framework Setup window, click the Next button.

  5. To proceed with installation, select the Accept option, and then click the Next button. The installer begins to copy files and update the system.

  6. When installation is complete, the installer displays a dialog box. Click OK.


    To properly uninstall the .NET Framework package you should also use the Windows Add or Remove Programs option.

See Also