If you run a network and want to deploy programs using group policy you normally need an MSI package. Sometimes program developers do not provide an MSI or programs are too old to provide them.
You can create your own MSI package using several free programs.
I will start with App Deploy Repackager. It is much simpler but also less powerful.
See this post for the more powerful Smart Packager CE instructions.
Here are some very important steps to take when building an MSI:
-Use a freshly and cleanly deployed machine to build the MSI on.
-Make sure that Windows Updates are not running at the time.
-Close every program that could possibly make unrelated changes during your capture.
-Test the MSI that you create before deploying it to your organisation!
In the past I’ve heard a story that someone in a large college built an MSI wrong, somehow it included an unrelated change to Flash player and the flash player folder permissions during the capture.. the MSI was rolled out to the entire network breaking flash and preventing it from being installed again due to the permissions change! Moral is.. check the MSI content before compiling it and test the MSI before sending it out to your entire network.
Select the .exe file for the non-MSI installer. Fill in the application name and the version. Fill in the publisher name of the program. Click next.
Select the folders and registry sections to monitor. Most people can leave this as default. Click Next. You should now be asked to install the application as normal. Be sure to ONLY install this and not use the system for anything else while capturing. See my warning at the top of this article about mistaken unrelated changes that can be captured.
Once the install has finished and you are ready to capture all the changes click Next.
After the installer completes you can see the files that were changed during the installation. In this case it has captured some cryptography system changes that we don’t want to be sent out as part of the MSI. It is important to review these lists to make sure that only changes relating to your program are included.
In this case I’ve highlighted the “Owner” files and moved them to the excluded section. The program is a machine program rather than a user profile program so we don’t want the user specific files to be included in the MSI. Click Next.
You will then be shown the registry changes that were captured. Once again I’ve moved out the cryptography and other unrelated changes. Click Next.
Select the exe file that you want to be added to the start menu.. Repeat if the program has multiple start menu icons that you want to deploy. Select the output location (Target path) for your MSI file. Name it and click Next.