Automatic updates are a good thing because it keeps software on user’s machine patched and secure, and this is important for software like web browsers and the operating systems. Google Chrome has a silent auto update feature that neither asks the user’s permission before updating nor alerts them after the update has been applied. It would have been possible for Google to include an option in Chrome that allows users to turn-off auto updates, but Google knows that most people cannot be trusted with manual update.
However, in enterprise environment domain administrators as well as power users might want to control which software updates on their computers and how often. For such situations, Google offers a set of policies that define which Google applications users may install and how they are updated. For example, you can choose to only allow users to install specific applications, have Google Update check for updates once a week, or disable updates of an application until after you’ve tested them in your environment.
Google Update for Enterprise makes use of Microsoft Windows Group Policy and Active Directory. Google provides an Administrative Template that defines policies for Google Update and Google Installer. You can apply Google Update policies by loading the Administrative Template into Windows Group Policy Editor and configuring the various rules provided within.
Configuring Google Update via Group Policy Editor
To begin, first download the Administrative Template, from the link below: http://dl.google.com/update2/enterprise/GoogleUpdate.adm
Now click on Start > Run and in the Run dialog box type gpedit.msc, and then press Enter. This will launch Group Policy Editor.
In Group Policy Editor, navigate to Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates in the left pane. Right-click Administrative Templates, and select Add/Remove Templates.
Click on the Add button and load the administrative template you downloaded. Click Close.
Once complete, a Google folder will appear under ‘Administrative Templates’.
- In Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows Server 2003 it will appear under Administrative Templates > Google >Google Update.
- In Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7 and Windows 8, it will appear under Administrative Templates > Classic Administrative Templates (ADM) >Google >Google Update.
The policies are grouped in three categories: Preferences, Proxies and Applications.
The policies under Preferences control Google Update’s general behavior. To customize this behavior, double click on “Auto-update check period override”.
In the window that opens, check the radio button against “Enabled” and then choose the minimum update interval between automatic update checks. You can also disable auto-update check for all Google software by checking the box underneath. Google strongly recommends not to check this box.
The policies under Applications control Google Update’s behavior on per application basis. Google applications that do not use Google Update or Google Installer will be unaffected, and won’t appear under the Applications folder. Google applications whose auto update behavior can be configured through Group Policies include:
- Google Gears
- Google Advertising Cookie Op-Out Plugin
- Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on (for IE)
- Google Apps
- Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook
- Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook
- Google Chrome
- Google Chrome Canary Build
- Google Chrome Frame
- Google Earth
- Google Earth Pro
- Google Earth Plugin
- Google Email Uploader
- Google Talks Labs Edition
- Google Talk Plugin (Voice and Video Chat)
- Google Toolbar (for Firefox and IE)
- GWT Developer Plugin for Internet Explorer
- O3D Extras
- Various Google Language Input
Each application folder contain two sets of policies.
- Allow installation default: This specifies the default behavior for whether Google software can be installed using Google Update/Google Installer. Enabling this policy will prevent Google Update/Google Installer from installing the application. However, this policy cannot prevent running an application installer directly.
- Update policy override default: This specifies the default policy for software updates from Google. Enabling this policy will present you with several choices, as presented below.
- Automatic silent updates: Updates are automatically applied when they are found via the periodic update check.
- Manual updates only: Updates are only applied when the user does a manual update check. (Not all apps provide an interface for this.)
- Updates disabled: Never apply updates.
To edit auto update behavior of any application, click on the application folder name and then double click on the policy. This will open a new window where you need to click on the “Configured” button before you can choose an option.
If you select manual updates, you should periodically check for updates using each application’s manual update mechanism if available. If you disable updates, you should periodically check for updates and distribute them to users.
Updates for Google Update itself are not affected by this setting. Google Update will continue to update itself while it is installed.