Planning to use Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) for completely unattended software installation? Consider CompuThoughts' SMSworks. SMSworks addresses problems, such as multiple-client configurations, that are magnified when you distribute software in a large-scale (i.e., more than 1000 clients) Windows NT Workstation environment. SMSworks lets you install a program on a target computer without any end-user interaction and logs all errors and warnings to the Windows NT Event Log. The product supports an extensive scripting language that lets you apply advanced logic. This support lets you write only one script to accommodate many different client configurations, and you can still distribute your software to various workstations using one SMS job.

SMSworks offers full support for the Registry. Every time you install a package, the software records the appropriate information in the Registry. Through this process, SMSworks guards against you accidentally overwriting your current software with older versions of the same software.

SMSworks makes an important distinction between system installation and user installation. When you install a program from the SMS Package Manager, SMSworks can invoke system-specific options. At the client, SMSworks can invoke user-specific actions when a user runs the application. This distinction between system installation and user installation provides support not available in standard SMS.

SMSworks provides enhancements to the Setup Table File (STF) language popularized by Microsoft. SMSworks provides many STFs for products that don't have them. Using these files, you can perform unattended software installations that otherwise would not be possible. SMSworks also provides an STF generator for unsupported products and in-house products so that administrators can install homegrown software the same way they install commercial packages. If you are using SMS for large-scale software distribution, consider including SMSworks in your bag of SMS tricks.

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