Home > Lync > Deploying Lync 2010 client using Group Policy

Deploying Lync 2010 client using Group Policy

The client software for Microsoft Lync 2010 is only available as an EXE file. But when you wish to distribute the Lync client to multiple workstations, it is much easier to use the software deployment method using Active Directory and Group Policies. For this purpose the presence of an MSI file is required. In this article I will describe the required steps for a successful distribution using Group Policies.

Extracting the MSI file

The first step is to obtain the MSI file from the EXE file. First we need to run the EXE file and fully install the Lync client software. After the installation has finished, use Windows Explorer to open the C:\Program Files\OCSetup folder and you will find a Lync.msi file in here. Copy this file into another folder.

After the file has been copied, you can safely uninstall the Lync client software again.

Attempting to install the MSI file

In general it is good practice to first try to install the MSI file manually. If it even doesn’t install manually, how on earth will it ever get installed using a GPO? So, let’s give it a try…

Unfortunately the installation fails with an error message saying that the installation can only be run using the setup program.

image

Microsoft intentionally disabled the ability to install the MSI file since the setup program not only installs the Lync client itself, but also checks for other required components. Among these are the Visual C++ runtime components and the Silverlight browser plugin.

So if we first ensure that the required components are preinstalled, there should be no reason why we can’t use the MSI file to install the Lync client.

Installing the MSI file using the documented method

Although the recommended installation method is by using the setup program, Microsoft does provide a documented method to install the MSI file anyway.

According to KB article 2477965 in the Microsoft knowledge base it takes a registry modification to allow the MSI file to install. Open the registry editor on the computer and browse to the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Communicator

Now add a new DWORD value named UseMSIForLyncInstallation and set this value to 0x00000001. After setting this value it will be possible to install the Lync client using the MSI file.

This setting is however not included in the ADM template, so you must either write your own ADM template for this or use some other method (scripting?) for configuring this registry key on all computers.

Installing the MSI file using the alternative method

Fortunately there is an alternative method for allowing the MSI file to install without the need for configuring the aforementioned registry key on all computers. Remember that the MSI file checks if it is being invoked by the setup program? And that it also checks for the presence of a registry key? So why not just remove these checks from the MSI file?

Start your favorite MSI editor and open the Lync.msi file. As an example I used ORCA to edit the MSI file. You can download ORCA here.

First create a new transform by using the Transform|New Transform menu. After the new transform has been created browse to the LaunchCondition table in the left pane and in here you have to look for the line that reads:

OCSETUP OR Installed OR USEMSIFORLYNCINSTALLATION = "#1"

image

This is the check that prevents installing the MSI file. Now simply delete this line. Generate the transform by using the Transform|Generate Transform menu and save it to the same location where the MSI file is in.

After making these modifications you should be able to create a new software distribution by adding the MSI file and the generated MST file to a GPO and distributing this to all computers will now be a piece of cake.

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  1. cmacrun
    April 20, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    With this transform or via the reg entry, when launching lync client after install, I get an msi repair dialog every time. I found that the client/msi database is looking for C:\Program Files\OCSetup directory, which is created by default when running the exe based installation. Manually creating the directory (empty directory at that) eliminates the repair condition. I found if I create a transform and drop every row that contains ocsetup and install with that transform, the msi repair condition goes away as well. I like the latter solution better, but don’t know what impact(s), if any, dropping those rows from the msi has. Anyone else seen this?

    I got tired of trial and error, dropping one row at a time and testing, so dropped them all and it worked. Maybe there is a single row that needs dropped or edited to correct rather than all of the rows….

    • April 27, 2011 at 2:43 PM

      I did not observe the “repair” behaviour myself. I will test again to see if I can reproduce it.

      Maybe there are other ways to create a transform that allows the installation of the Lync MSI. The method I described works for me, so I didn’t look any further.

      When time permits I will have a closer look.

  2. pomroy24
    April 21, 2011 at 2:21 AM

    Setting the registry key can be done in Group Policy as well. You might be brave and simply set it in the same Group Policy Object as the software installation. If it processes the software installation first, it will fail the first time but should succeed on the next boot.

    On another topic, has anyone tried this method of deployment to machines that already have Office Communicator installed? Part of what the exe binary does is check for it and remove it. I’m concerned that this install will simply fail to run on machines with the older client.

    • April 27, 2011 at 2:32 PM

      You certainly have a point about not being to able to install using this method when an older client is already installed.

      However, since I always prefer to use group policies for software distribution I also assume that the old client is distributed in the same way. In other words, the entire software installation procedure is managed by an IT department.

      It is just a matter of configuring the Lync software distribution in such a way that it is an upgrade (make sure you select the “replace” method) of the old software (e.g. communicator 2007). This will ensure that the old client is uninstalled first before the Lync client is installed.

    • d
      March 20, 2012 at 7:29 PM

      I have tested and deployed the Lync msi via GP and it does uninstall the older Communicator product.

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