Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Internet Explorer 8 with Windows Vista


Internet Explorer 8 with Windows Vista

    logo_windows & Internet Explorer 8

    One of the biggest complains coming from many of my customers when talking about Windows Vista has been the way the browser works. Indeed, Internet Explorer 7 does not feel as stable as Internet Explorer 6 did. The problem with Windows Vista is that it includes IE7 by default, giving the user no other choice than live with it or install a different browser.

    I have to confess it… I installed Internet Explorer 8 in its beta version some months ago because I couldn't stand anymore the feeling of using Internet Explorer 7 for some things and having to resort to another browser (yes! I used Opera which is my second choice browser). IE8 was for me a refreshing experience.

    The problem grows really big for companies, where IT managers face the daily challenge of giving the best service to their users. Some companies have opted to deploy browsers that are not configurable in a centralized way, making their costs higher when they need to make changes to configurations or launching new internal web applications that require such changes.

    Well, fortunately, better late than never, IE8 has arrived and companies can now deploy it so they can keep the manageability of the Windows platform with one of the most frequent configured item: the browser.

    There are basically three ways to deploy IE8: From scratch, with the operating system (Windows Vista), from Windows Update (the update will be coming soon) and the manual installation, being directly from the web or from some sort of media.

    In this post I want to talk about the installation from scratch, and no, it is not funny to install Windows Vista and then have to install the browser. As with Windows service packs, you can include the installation of IE8 in the Windows bits (this process is called slipstreaming). This technique allows you to generate a new installation disk of Windows Vista that includes IE8 right during the install, making it transparent to whoever is installing it and leaving the installation in a more "natural" state.

    How do I slipstream IE8 into Windows Vista?

    The process requires some tools, but it is easy to achieve (the same steps work for Windows Server 2008):

  1. An installation of the WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit) is needed (downloadable here). Take care to install a WAIK that works for the same architecture as your local Windows installation (x86, x64), it will allow to prepare slipstreams for both architectures if it is needed.
  2. Create a folder for the whole project (called here <path>) and inside that create five folders like this:
    • <path>\mount
    • <path>\package
    • <path>\Temporary
    • <path>\OriginalOS
    • <path>\IESource

    In the last two folders, copy the original Vista DVD to OriginalOS and the download you do for IE8 in IESource

  3. With this, extract the msu file corresponding to IE8 installation with the following command:

    <path>\IESource\<exe-file-for-IE8> /x: <path>\IESource

    Then, expand the downloaded IE to the package folder. The command to do this should look like the following:

    expand <path>\IESource\<msu-file-for-IE8> -F:* <path>\package

  4. Expand the Windows Vista image you want to work on: Once the content is expanded, it is necessary to mount the Vista image. For that we will use the tool IMAGEX, included in the WAIK. Take into account that as the IMAGEX executable might not be in the path, it is advisable to include the full path when issuing this command:

    <WAIKpath>\imagex.exe /mountrw <path>\OriginalOS\sources\install.wim <#> <path>\mount

    The <#> parameter in this command would be the image number that corresponds to the Vista version you want to put the IE into (remember that the Vista DVD includes all the Vista SKUs in the same media).

  5. Change the attribute for the "Offline Web Pages" folder: attrib -R "<path>\mount\Windows\Offline Web Pages" (this is only needed if working with a Vista DVD with no service packs applied)
  6. Next, the actual slipstreaming. Note that this command needs you to use also the full path for the WAIK, because it uses one of its executables, which is not normally on the path (take care also to include the right xml file, I've included here the file for x86 as an example):

    <WAIKpath>\pkgmgr.exe /n:<path>\package\Windows6.0-KB944036-x86.xml" /o:”<path>\mount;<path>\mount\windows” /s:<path>\Temporary /l:<path>\slipstr.log

    The process will leave a log file in the project folder called slipstr.log so it can be diagnosed (just in case). It all went OK if the text "exit code 0x00" shows up at the end of the file.

  7. If the attribute in step 5 was changed, do not forget to change it back to the original attrib +R "<path>\mount\Windows\Offline Web Pages"
  8. Now, package again the Vista image, which will now include IE8 instead of IE7:

    imagex /commit /unmount <path>\mount

    Now we have a folder with a Vista source ready to install. We can now use it to deploy directly with the preferred deployment method for the operating system.

Published Tuesday, March 24, 2009 4:58 PM by Mauricio Tamayo Ortega

TTBC - Tools and Tips for Better Computing : Internet Explorer 8 with Windows Vista

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