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Group Policy

Group Policy: Zapped by a ZAP file

Monday, March 17, 2008 in Technical Articles (Views: 6588)
This seems to be one of those things that you see on a MCSE exam and might have a one in a billion chance of using in your lifetime, but I found one.

Has anyone heard of a ZAP file before? This came about in the Windows 2000 Active Directory model as a method of enterprise software deployment.

Of course, the Windows Installer / MSI package is king, but ZAP files can take your standard setup.exe and make a Windows Install from it.

This blog is dedicated to showing you how to implement ZAP files and their limitations (and there are some big ones).

First, a ZAP file is nothing more than an ASCii file with a few lines in it:


FriendlyName = "My Program"

SetupCommand = "\\server\share\setup.exe"

DisplayVersion = 1.0

Publisher = My Company

The only lines required are the friendly name and the setup command. The other 2 lines are there as optional lines. Of course, don't forget your quotation marks if you intend to use spaces.

What I would do to simply input this is take your EXE and ZAP file, put it on a network share, and create a Group Policy to install the software using a ZAP instead of the traditional MSI approach.

Now, this is where the limitations come in:

* ZAP files cannot be assigned, only published

* ZAP files, unless the EXE was made to install without user intervention, will require user input.

* Speaking of user intervention, ZAP files cannot run with elevated permissions (the GPO setting for Windows Installer is just that, for Windows Installer only). So if your users need admin rights to install software, they will also need it with ZAP.

* ZAP files don't have the ability to repair themselves

Really, ZAP files are cheap but offer a way for software installations in a low security environment.

If you are packaging EXE files with something, say the SMS Installer, you can use the ISU (Installer Step Up Utility) from Microsoft to compile MSI files from it.

Happy Application Deployment!


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