Deploying Adobe Reader DC via SCCM

I recently had to update our corporate Adobe Reader installation, as it was getting old and throwing off errors.

This proved to be somewhat more complex than initially anticipated, due to how Adobe has decided to handle it’s versioning process. Essentially they have released one master version to which they release update packs. During my research I saw a thousand different ways people had chosen to go about it, but I think this method is the simplest by far – and it doesn’t require any scripts at all. First of all you need to sign up for an Adobe distribution agreement:

Once this is done you will be supplied with links to all the pertinent software. I can’t share these publicly accessible links, as that violates their terms of use, brilliant as that is. So sign up, get approved and come back.

  • Grab Adobe Customization Wizard and install it
  • Get your source .msi package from Adobe. This will be the earliest version number you can find in continuous track.
  • Customize it with Customization Wizard to automate the setup steps and generate an MST File.
  • Create an application in SCCM which points to the .msi file for uninstall information. I refer to this as the “base” install. Set it up with the following for installation program:
    msiexec.exe /i AcroRead.msi /quiet /norestart TRANSFORMS=AcroRead.mst
    Uninstall is left at default.
    Detection method I set to .msi product code. Detection methods are key in this deployment.
  • Distribute this application to your distribution points and test that it works in a small deployment. Make sure it’s set to uninstall and supercede any prior versions of Reader, as they seem to keep the same GUID.
  • Create a new application and point it at the latest .msp update file available from Adobe. Don’t use an incremental though.
  • Make sure you target the uninstall for the “base” MSI file, not the .msp file or anything else. This will make sure you get the correct uninstall codes in to SCCM, should you need them later.
  • Set detection method for the update for the version number of the .exe file once the update has been applied. So install the update manually, check the version number of the exe and use that for detection.
  • Installation method is simply msiexec so no worries there.’
    msiexec.exe /Update AcroRdrDCUpd1502320056_MUI.msp /quiet /norestart
  • Make sure that the update is set up with a dependency on the Reader Base installation.
  • Deploy the update to a test group to verify proper handling.

Short and sweet.

With this method, I can supersede older versions of Reader with a new .msp file, keeping the base installation as is. As the .msp updates can be applied on top of each other, there are no concerns at all maintaining the reader application using this method. When an update is released, repeat the update steps and supersede the old application and you’re done. Could not be simpler.

If anyone’s found a simpler way of making all this work, I’d love to hear it. But every single option I have found, heard of or seen has been much more complex. Some requiring .ini file hacks, some requiring powershell scripts, vbscripts etc.

This works within the method Adobe has decided to go with, and it takes minutes to deploy the updated application.

Feel free to share your thoughts.

2 thoughts on “Deploying Adobe Reader DC via SCCM

  1. Hi Bjorn. Thanks for a great post. Can I ask does the deployment work ok if the old version of Adobe Reader is in use at the time of the install attempt?

    • Hey man, apologies for the late reply, you got stuck in the spam filter.

      I found no issues. It\’s based on msiexec update functionality. If it somehow fails to update the software because it\’s in-use, it\’ll just retry later.
      I\’ve had zero complaints from helpdesk however, so I highly doubt that there are any issues, and we\’re up to the third revision by now.
      It just works.
      I was even able to replace our existing Adobe Reader installation, which shares the same GUID as the new one, by superseding it and having it uninstall the old before adding the new one. The latest version is currently sitting at 3.376 installations 😉

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