A piece of software that we use at our office has recently moved to a new licensing system. This means that from now on a new set of license key files will need to be distributed to each of our 25 client installations every year.

All of the clients run XP and are part of an AD domain controlled by a Windows 2003 DC. I'm already using group policies to deploy software updates.

I gather that this is possible with Group Policy Preferences in Server 2008. I'm just looking for a good method using Server 2003.

The same set of files need copying to each client. I also have them hosted on a network share accessible by each client.

I'm more of a *nix person, so I'm not particularly up on scripting in a Windows environment.


A simple startup/login script may be all you need. This can be written in the batch language.

You script may be as simple as

@echo off
copy \\example.org\share\filename c:\example.blah

If the setting is per-user it should be applied as a login script, if it is per machine add it as a startup script within group policies.

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    May want to COPY /Y \\example.com\share\filename.blah C:\filename.blah so the "overwrite" prompt doesn't just sit there forever awaiting a response from the user. – jscott Nov 23 '11 at 18:10
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    Hopefully the users do not have permission to update the files, so a startup script may be preferable to a logon script. – Greg Askew Nov 24 '11 at 15:52
  • the users do actually have permission to update those files (this is required by the software). i think a startup script would still be preferable though. – samuelkf Nov 24 '11 at 16:24

As long as you have at least one Server 2008 or higher or Vista or higher workstation or higher you can use group policy preferences to deploy your file as well. I was one of the only 7 installations in a primarily 2003 / XP environment for the last year and I put together and pushed out GPP items on a pretty regular basis.

All you need is the Group Policy Management MMC console. See here.

  • hmm. i have a 2008 sql server. i'd like to avoid using that for anything other than sql though. i could set up a spare workstation/vm with 2008. would it need to be set up as a secondary DC? – samuelkf Nov 24 '11 at 13:05
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    @tonedeath: the actual group policy (gpo) "files" are just files, hosted on the sysvol path on any domain controller. The clients need to understand the file/folder structure and various settings that are in the gpo files. You can use GPP with downlevel (XP) clients, but those clients need to have the GPP extensions installed. You also need to "create" the gpo using a client that understands the newer GPP settings (2008/Vista/Windows 7 with the Administration Tools gpmc.msc). If the XP clients do not have the extensions, you may want to use the startup script option. – Greg Askew Nov 24 '11 at 16:10
  • yes, i think i'll go down the startup script route as the clients do not have gpp extensions installed. thanks for the insight into gpo though. that's really helpful. – samuelkf Nov 24 '11 at 16:21
  • @Greg - good comment. I'm used to the clients that I manage being fully up to date, including the client side settings. I didn't think to mention it here. – Tim Brigham Nov 24 '11 at 17:08

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