Hi, my name is Jatinder Mann and I work on the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK) and Group Policy. Back in June, James Pratt and Jane Maliouta alluded to IEAK improvements for IE8. Today, I will be talking about the work we have done in this area.
Internet Explorer Administration Kit 8 Beta
IEAK8 Beta is now available publically for everyone to try. To give you some background, the IEAK allows you to deploy customized packages and manage IE settings post deployment within corporations and among Internet Content Providers (ICP) and Internet Service Providers (ISP). For instance, Acme Corp could use IEAK to create a custom IE package for their employees that has Acme favorites, search providers, home pages, Web Slices, Accelerators, and more.
We simplified creating, deploying and managing branded IE packages. We optimized the IEAK to help you build your customized IE packages more quickly and to allow you to configure and customize new features in Internet Explorer 8, like Accelerators and Web Slices.
In this post, I will be talking about how the IEAK:
Customize New Features in IE8
The following new features can be now customized via the IEAK8:
You can easily include custom defaults for Accelerators: simply point to an XML file for the desired Accelerator, or import existing Accelerators from a local machine.
In the Favorites, Favorites Bar and Feeds dialog you can now add custom Web Slices by simply clicking on the Web Slice radio button and specifying the Web Slice information.
Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 introduces Compatibility View which is a significant enhancement over the “Emulate IE7” functionality from IE8 Beta 1. You can customize this feature in the Compatibility view dialog.
IE8 supports search providers which offer rich text and image suggestions; through IEAK 8 you can add search providers with suggestions and configure default search providers.
Additional IE8 Features
Many other IE8 features, like InPrivate Browsing, Developer Tools and Delete Browsing History, can be customized in the Additional Settings page available in the corporate license mode. For example, in a corporate environment you might want to encourage users to delete saved passwords; you can chose to have the Delete Passwords checkbox in Delete Browsing History checked by default. Similarly, you may want to turn off InPrivate Browsing mode by default.
Build Your IE8 Package More Quickly
Internet Explorer 8 Customization Wizard has fewer pages than the Internet Explorer 7 Customization Wizard: you’ll be able to build your customized package faster now.
Furthermore, we have redesigned some screens to simplify the overall flow of the wizard. Custom Components is a good example of this. Compared to the original screen, this dialog box now displays a list of custom components and allows easy addition and removal of items through a pop-up window.
The IEAK7 Custom Components Screen:
The simplified IEAK8 Custom Components Screen:
Full Language and Platform support
The IEAK8 Beta can build IE8 packages for all platforms and 24 languages supported by IE8 Beta 2. Please refer to the blog posted titled IE8 Beta 2 Available in 25 Languages for a complete list of supported platforms and languages.
How does the IEAK apply branding?
Customers have often asked me how the IEAK applies branding to IE. Branding in this case can be defined as any customization of IE, including all the customizations mentioned above. The IEAK generated IE package contains both the IE8 setup files (unless you are using the configuration only package, in which case IE8 would already be installed on your computer and you wouldn’t need the setup files) and customizations. The IE8 setup is used to install IE8. Upon restart, customizations are applied per user to the registry and branding files.
The customizations are stored in the install.ins file found under the Custom or Signup folders in the Internet Explorer directory. The install.ins file contains all types of branding including IEAK and unattend branding. IEAK branding consists of ISP, ICP and corporate branding, while unattend branding consists of the manufacturer defaults.
Branding is also applied when the user chooses to Reset Internet Explorer settings (RIES). This can be done by selecting Reset under the Advanced tab in the internet options dialog. RIES will apply the branding found in the install.ins file. If a user were to remove the install.ins file and reset IE, the branding step would get skipped. In IE8, RIES comes with a Remove Branding option; however, this option only removes ISP, ICP and Corporate branding; unattend branding will not be removed.
We refined the IEAK in this release and look forward to your feedback once you’ve had a chance to try it out.
Jatinder Mann Program Manager
P.S. James discusses what's new in IE8 for IT Pros in his screencast here
edit: modified first paragraph under "Build your IE8 Package More Quickly"; added P.S.; trimmed down the Compatiblity View section; updated the first IEAK link