Deploying Adobe Acrobat DC via Group Policy

This post assumes that you’ve already downloaded the Adobe Acrobat DC package from Adobe LWS and you’ve downloaded and installed the Acrobat Customization Wizard DC if not, go do those first.

  1. Once you’ve downloaded the package, double click it to extract its contents — do not run the installer after the package has been extracted.15-07-2015_000115-07-2015_0002
  2. Assuming you’ve extracted the package contents to C:\Users\Administrator\Desktop\Adobe Acrobat, you’ll have a directory within that directory, titled Adobe Acrobat, in addition to some other files that we won’t concern ourselves with for the purposes of this post:15-07-2015_0003
  3. Now start the Acrobat Customization Wizard DC:15-07-2015_0004
  4. Navigate to File -> Open Package and select the AcroPro.msi file.15-07-2015_0005
  5. Configure your deployment options. For example, enter the package’s serial number in the Serial Number field, under the Personalization Options category. Please refer to Adobe’s documentation for details on all of the available configuration options and their uses. One particularly frustrating issue I ran into had to do with the installer looking for Visual C++ x64 2013 Runtime (VC); if this package wasn’t installed, the installation would fail and the only thing logged in event viewer would be a group policy failure. The total lack of useful error messages made this issue a pain to overcome, but after reading every single option and description (more or less) on this page I eventually figured it out. I needed to set an attribute in the Property table via the Direct Editor function in the Customization Wizard.Add AttributeI had to add this attribute manually (just right-click anywhere in the attributes pane), as it does not exist in the Property table by default. The attribute name needed to be IGNOREVCRT64 and it’s value needed to be 1.IGNOREVCRT64You can probably guess at what this does but for the official explanation, refer to Adobe’s Documentation on Property attributes and values. The short explanation is that I needed this installation to succeed regardless of whether the target machine already had the Visual C++ x64 2013 Runtime package installed. As of this writing, here is the explanation, for posterity:

    Since Acrobat looks for Visual C++ x64 2013 Runtime (VC) by default, set IGNOREVCRT64 to 1 if it is not present AND not needed. IGNOREVCRT64 need only be used when all of the following are true:

    • During Acrobat installs on 64-bit machines
    • When Visual C++ x64 2010 SP1 Runtime is not installed
    • Installation is NOT done via setup.exe.
    • The following functionality is NOT needed:
      • Acrobat PDF Creation add-on (PDFMaker plugin) for Microsoft Office 64-bit applications (viz. Word, Excel, PowerPoint & Outlook) and
      • sending emails or resolving addresses via 64-bit Microsoft Outlook.

    Since Acrobat looks for Visual C++ x64 2013 Runtime (VC) by default, set to 1 if it is not present AND not needed. During non-setup.exe installs when VC is not present, installation behavior is as follows:

    • Command line installs abort if IGNOREVCRT64=1 is not passed.
    • UI installs display a dialog asking the user whether they would like to continue or cancel.
    • Setup.exe installs succeed. Installs never abort as the property is passed while spawning the MSI.

    For MSI installs, use Require64BitVC10RT in the Setup.ini file under the Startup section.

  6. Once you’ve configured all of your desired options, navigate to File -> Save Package. This will create a transform (.mst) file (… in addition to doing a few other things): 15-07-2015_0007
  7. To deploy this package, it will need to be accessible from the network. Create a network-accessible directory — something like:
    \\fileserver.domain.local\Deployed Files

    and copy the entire Adobe Acrobat directory — the one containing the transform file created in the previous step — to that directory.

  8. Open GPMC and create a GPO (or modify an existing GPO):
  9. Right click on any blank space in the right panel and create a new package: 15-07-2015_0010
  10. Select Advanced deployment method:15-07-2015_0009
  11. Navigate to the network accessible location of the package and select it (note: it might take a while for any dialogs to appear after selecting the file … just be patient): 15-07-2015_0011
  12. Then add your transform (.mst) file in the Modifications tab of the package properties (the transform file will be in the same directory as the package file.) Then click OK: 15-07-2015_0012
  13. Bonus! Configure some administrative templates.
    1. First, download the templates from Adobe.
    2. Save them somewhere on your computer and unzip them.
    3. Open GPMC and edit the GPO you’d like to use with the templates.
    4. In the policy editor, navigate to Administrative Templates in either Computer or User configuration
    5. Right click on the Administrative Templates folder and select Add/Remove Templates Add/Remove Templates
    6. Navigate to the directory where you unzipped the templates and select the file named AcrobatDC.adm Select the .adm file AcrobatDC
    7. Then configure your options:Adobe "Computer Configuration" optionsAdobe "User Configuration" options