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Software deployment is the process of making software usable on one or more systems. Both single and multi-system deployment involve four primary steps:

  1. Download
  2. Install
  3. Activate
  4. Update

1. Download

While some software is still distributed on flash drives or optical media (CDs and DVDs), most software today is downloaded. Therefore, deployment often begins with downloading a software installer.

2. Install

The installation process is the primary deployment step, in which the application and corresponding files are installed on one or more systems. Installation options include where to install the software and what files to install, such as add-ons and other extras.

3. Activate

Commercial software programs often require activation, either immediately or after a trial period. Without activation, the software may run for a limited time or with limited features. The activation process requires purchasing a license and entering the activation key.

4. Update

The final step of deployment is updating the software to the latest version. Many applications include a "Check for updates" command to check if a newer version is available. Keeping software up-to-date reduces issues with bugs, security holes, and incompatibilities.

Advanced Deployment

Deploying software on a home PC is often as simple as downloading, installing, and activating the program. Deployment on corporate machines or across multiple systems on a network can be more complex. For example, a network administrator may need to configure a program identically on dozens of computers. To ensure consistency, the admin may use a command-line interface or a deployment script to automate the installation process.

NOTE: Windows installers usually have an .EXE or .MSI extension. Active Directory and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) installations may require MSI files.

Updated: April 1, 2021

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