Today I thought it would be worth having a look at this utility!
For starters, here’s where you can download it: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/ie/bb219517
Why download it? What does it do?
The IEAK is used for settings in Internet Explorer 8, and can either be as part of the IE8 deployment, or after initial deployment. If you’re on Windows 7 then you’d really need to use it after since it’s built into the OS already. There are some painful ways to do a lot of this with importing registry keys etc, so this is a much neater and nicer way. There are 100’s of settings in Group Policy and Group Policy preferences for IE8, but IEAK is better for the newer features. Here’s what IEAK does (shamelessly stolen from Microsoft here http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/ie/cc889351.aspx).:
Accelerators. You can include custom defaults for Accelerators in Internet Explorer 8.
Web Slices. You can add Web Slices to your custom Internet Explorer 8 package.
First Run Wizard and Welcome Page options. You can configure the First Run Experience for Internet Explorer 8.
Compatibility View. You can choose if content is rendered in Internet Explorer 8 standards mode or Internet Explorer 7 mode. NoteBy default all sites in the Intranet Zone are rendered in Internet Explorer 7 mode.
Search Enhancements. Internet Explorer 8 supports search providers which offer rich text and image suggestions. Through IEAK 8 you can add and configure these providers for your installer.
The main reason I am interested in this is for Accelerators. We don’t want to use Bing, and that’s probably a whole other blog as to why, but we feel Google search is superior. This will also be for Windows 7, so I’ll be looking at the Configuration-only package (after deployment of IE8).
Once you’ve downloaded the program, you’ll get the options of which license mode you want to use. The options are (stolen from here this time, Microsoft doco is really good for this! http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/ie/ff383944)
1. External Distribution – ISPThis mode is available to Internet Service Providers, to help them create a customized browser for the users of their Internet Service.
2. External Distribution – ICP (Content Provider or Developer)This mode is available to anyone who wants to create a customized browser for distribution outside their company (e.g., Web sites, ISVs, etc).
3. Internal Distribution – Corporate IntranetThis mode is available to companies for the creation and distribution of a customized browser to their employees ONLY.
We’ll be choosing the last one of course.
You’ll then be prompted for an Organization (Americans!) Name, which is mandatory and used inside your packages.
The rest is basic – and there you go, it’s installed!
Run the ‘Internet Explorer Customization Wizard 8 program’ , and it will ask you where you’d like to put your builds. You will then be prompted for what OS version you’re building this for. There’s no option for Windows 7, but you can choose the Windows Vista option for that.
Next, you’ll be asked for the Media Selection. As I’m only doing this after IE8 is installed, I’ll be choosing ‘Configuration-only package’.
The Feature Selection will then ask which features you want to configure. You can remove some if you don’t need them, but I’ve left them all ticked so I can check out all the options.
Next is a nice addition to the wizard – Automatic Version Synchronization. The setup will force you to make sure you have the latest install files for IE8 from the web. At the time of writing, it is only 12.7MB so you won’t have to wait long.
Continuing on, you’ll then get prompted for the User Experience. You can have the user pick lots of options, or just have them see the progress, or silent. I’ll pick silent as my users aren’t interested :) Also there are restart options – Prompt, No Restart or Force Restart. I’ll pick No restart because this will only be used for new machines, which will get rebooted before a user uses them. It’s not critical stuff, but also I can use SCCM to deploy and force a restart if I really wanted to.
Customize Title Bars is next, if you’d like your company name in the IE8 Title Bar. There’s also an option to adjust the amount of additional buttons that appear on the toolbar. Not touching that option…
Search Providers – the one I’ve been waiting for! You can manually specify the settings for your search provider, or go the easy option of just clicking ‘Import’ and it’ll pull whatever you have set up locally on IE8. I’ve got Google and Bing there already, so it’s imported them the way I want it.
Important URLs – Home Page and Support. This gives you the option of forcing IE to open up multiple tabs on execution – could work in some environments but not here. Passing on this one too.
Accelerators – same as Search Providers really, can import or add via XML file.
Favorites, Favorites Bar and Feeds – push out default favorites if you like. Probably not the method I’d use to do this, I’d rather have it in Group Policy Preferences.
…A bunch of other basic stuff continues from here – I didn’t configure any of it as it can all be done via GPP.
Once you’re done, it will crate the package and tell you where it is.
Deploying your settings
Now that you’ve packaged up the settings the way you like, there will be an exe and msi file in the directory specified earlier then under BrndOnly\AMD64_VISTA\EN called IE8-Setup-Branding.*
This is the file you’ll need to deploy (.msi is easy via Group Policy, run once) which you can manually run on a PC or three to test.
It’s a very straight forward, very customisable and easy to deploy method of pushing out your company’s IE settings. Microsoft have done well on this, so I highly recommend you give it a try.