The Windows 2000 Server family provides two important tools for managing and deploying software on a network: RIS and the Software Installation and Maintenance component of IntelliMirror. RIS allows client systems to boot from across the network and automatically receive and install Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP Professional, providing a quick, easy, and powerful way to deploy basic or fully configured systems (especially when used in combination with IntelliMirror). Software Installation and Maintenance enhances the Group Policy functionality of Windows to make it easy to assign or publish applications with native Windows Installer packages or repackaged legacy applications. This allows users to move from computer to computer on the company network and have their applications installed automatically on each computer they use.
Windows 2000 and Windows XP also provide service packs that are easier to deploy and maintain than Windows NT service packs. Additionally, support for legacy applications has been increased through Application Compatibility Updates and special Compatibility Modes.
The next chapter describes how to deploy another type of software management tool—Terminal Services.