Deploying Adobe Runtimes and Reader: Introduction

Last time, I presented my views on what the software deployment experience ought to be like for users and described some rules or principles for software installation programs to provide that experience. I want to flesh out those principles with some small, focused examples. This five-post series will present deployment of the free runtimes and readers from Adobe, using System Center Configuration Manager’s Software Center application to provide the app store experience. We’ll be working with AIR, Flash, Shockwave, and Acrobat Reader DC.

Obtain Distribution Rights from Adobe

Adobe packages its free players differently for consumers and businesses. This is unfortunate because all installers for desktop Windows applications should be packaged as Windows Installer (MSI) files, period. The good news is that the business versions of three out of four of these Adobe programs are packaged as Windows Installer files. The bad news is that they are not publicly available; you have to ask for them.

To get the needed files, you must obtain distribution rights from Adobe. You will also have to create an Adobe ID in order to complete the distribution agreement. The following pages describe the availability of distribution rights for their respective products.

Clicking the “Apply” button on any of these pages will prompt you to sign in with an Adobe ID. After signing in, the Adobe Runtimes / Reader Distribution License Agreement page will be displayed. You can select all four products from this page and apply for licenses for all of them at once.

It usually takes at least 24 hours for the distribution request to be processed. You will receive an approval e-mail with a link to the installer for each product. I will not be revealing the links I received in this blog series as that would be a violation of the agreement. You must obtain distribution rights directly from Adobe in order to get the download links and follow along with this blog series.

Obtain Configuration Manager PowerShell Cmdlets from Microsoft (Optional)

I’m planning to use PowerShell in my examples in this series. There is entirely too much clicking involved in building application packages in Configuration Manager. Using PowerShell will alleviate the wrist strain of clicking, and the scripts we write for building these Adobe packages will be reusable for Adobe’s frequent updates to its products.

I’ll be using PowerShell 5.0, so if you are on a version of Windows lower than 10 (where PowerShell 5.0 is built in), be sure to upgrade by installing Windows Management Framework 5.0.

You will also need the System Center Configuration Manager Cmdlet Library, which is available from the Microsoft Download Center. Be sure to install the latest version.

Coming Up

Next time, we’ll examine the behavior of Adobe Shockwave and its installer. This is the simplest installer of the four, so it is a good place to get started and to get our feet wet with the Configuration Manager PowerShell cmdlets. In later posts, we’ll cover the other three programs, going in order of increasing complexity.