Assigning is Group Policy Software Installations

by Chris Sanders [Published on 21 March 2007 / Last Updated on 21 March 2007]

You are given the option of publishing or assigning software when you are doing a group policy based software installation. What is the difference?

Installing software with group policy allows you to take a very large task and completely automate it. If you have ever done this, you will know that when you set up your GPO, you are given the option to either publish or assign the software package.

Assigning an application is very straightforward, as it basically just installs the software on the next log in after the GPO is applied. Publishing a package however is a different thing all together. When you publish a package, it is not actually installed on the computer, but rather, it gives the end user the option of installing it. Once it is applied to a specific computer, the end user of that computer can open the Add/Remove Programs dialog from the control panel and choose to install the package from there.

It is also important to note that a package can be assigned to a user or computer, but can only be published to users.


Chris Sanders is the network administrator for one of the largest public school systems in the state of Kentucky. Chris's specialties include general network administration, windows server 2003, wireless networking, and security. You can view Chris' personal website at

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The Author — Chris Sanders

Chris Sanders is a network security analyst for EWA Government Systems Inc. Chris is the author of the book Practical Packet Analysis as well as several technical articles. His personal website at contains a great deal of information, articles, and guides related to network administration, network security, packet analysis, and general information technology.

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