Warning – this is a long post.
Last month Deepa and I worked on a document that describes how to deploy MSN Messenger with SMS. Since there isn’t a technet site for MSN, there isn’t really a good way to publish this as a whitepaper — so I’m posting it here.
Deploying MSN Messenger in silent mode
Managing software updates is one of the major challenges facing IT organizations to. This document outlines a strategy for an IT professional to automate MSN Messenger deployments.
MSN Messenger is usually installed by a user with administrative rights on the local machine. This is a less than ideal scenario for an organization that restricts user’s access in a managed PC environment.
Deploying MSN Messenger involves a three part strategy:
1. Obtain the MSI package
2. Deploy the MSI package
3. Verifying the deployment
Obtain the MSI files
MSI is the Microsoft Windows Installer a base service of the Microsoft Windows operating system that enables you to manage the state of software applications. The managed state of an application includes installation, modification, upgrade, or removal. Windows Installer provides you with consistent and reliable methods to customize installations, update and upgrade applications, and resolve configuration problems.
A Windows Installer package (.msi) file contains a database that stores all the instructions for the Windows Installer service and data required to manage the state of a program, such as adding, changing, or removing it from a computer. You’ll need to obtain the MSI package for MSN Messenger.
To obtain the MSI package:
1. Create a folder to save the MSI package in.
2. Go to http://messenger.msn.com/download for the current version of Messenger.
3. Click on “Download and Install later” and save the MSN Messenger installation file to the folder created in step 1.
Note: The Messenger installation file is different for each operating system. For example, Installation file for MSN Messenger 7.0 on Windows 98/Me is named INSTALL_MSN_MESSENGER_9X.EXE, for 7.0 on XP the installation file is named INSTALL_MSN_MESSENGER_DL.EXE.
4. Extract the MSI package from The Messenger installation file using the following command line:
<messenger_installation_file>.exe /c /t:”<path>”
Where <messenger_installation_file> is the name of the file downloaded in step 3 and <path> is the complete path to the directory created in step 1. The output of this will be one, or more depending on the OS selected, files. The MSI package is named msnmsgs.msi.
Deploy the MSI package
Now that you have the MSI package you are ready to deploy it. You can use Microsoft System Management Server (SMS) to automate the deployment of MSN Messenger. You can find out more about SMS here.
Note: The Microsoft Windows Installer supports installing packages in “silent” mode. Silent mode does not display an UI on the interactive desktop while the installation is taking place. To install the Messenger MSI package in silent mode using the following command line:
Msiexec /i msnmsgs.msi /quiet
Verifying the deployment
Once you have deployed a new update you should validate the successful deployment. SMS includes software inventorying tools that can be to ensure that the correct version of MSN Messenger is installed. Please refer to the SMS documentation for additional details.
What happens if I deploy a version of MSN Messenger with SMS, but a user has already installed a higher version on his computer?
No user visible errors. The higher version continues to remain installed and the user will be able to sign in as usual. On Windows XP and Windows 2000, a MSI Installer event will be logged in Application Event log.
Can I have SMS run the installation package with a non-admin account?
No. The installation of the MSN Messenger MSI package will fail if you try to have SMS install it with less than admin permissions.
Please refer to the SMS manual on how to perform installations under administrative credentials.
Note: On Windows XP and Windows 2000, a MSI Installer error will be logged in the Application Event log.
What are the default options for a silent install for Messenger v 6.2 or for v 7.0?
In a silent install no options are selected. MSN Messenger setup will not make any changes to the default search engine in IE, install MSN toolbar, set the home page to www.msn.com, or install any shortcuts on either the quick launch toolbar or the desktop.
What happens when Messenger is already running but not signed in?
The install will proceed and the user will not notice that a new version has been installed.
What happens when Messenger is already running but signed in?
If the user is in a conversation with a new buddy, the user will get prompted if they’d like to save a conversation history. The user will also be prompted that all conversation windows will be closed. The installation will cause an automatic reboot f the machine.
Note: In order to prevent unsaved work from being lost, we recommend that the installation happens only when the user is first logged in.