Prompting the End-User during ConfigMgr Application Installs

As a Configuration Manager administrator, from time to time I have to deploy an application where I need to notify the end-user of something before the installation begins. A recent example was a plugin for IE that would fail to install if Internet Explorer was running at the time. I can force-ably kill the running process of course, but that’s not necessarily a nice experience for the user – without warning their browser and any open tabs get closed. So better to notify them first, and give them a chance to close the application themselves and save any work. Rather than email each targeted user and warn them to close Internet Explorer before the plugin installs (which they probably ignore or forget anyway), I wanted the installation process to handle that by some kind of prompt.

I could create a script wrapper for the plugin but that would necessitate running in the user context to display interactively. An easier way is simply to install it using a task sequence with some additional steps that will prompt the user first, kill the process if necessary, then install the plugin. A task sequence also gives me better logging.

The problem with a task sequence is that it runs in the system context, so I cannot interact with the end user who is effectively working in a different session. This can be solved however by using the ServiceUI.exe that comes with MDT. Sometime ago I wrote a post about how to prompt for input during a task sequence, but in this case I don’t want input, I simply want to use a message box.  I also want something reusable – so I don’t have to create a new package for each custom prompt.

I have a nice PowerShell function that will create a message box for me using the Wscript.shell “popup” method, so I added this function to a script, where I have also defined the message parameters I want to use at the bottom.


function New-PopupMessage {
# Return values for reference (https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/x83z1d9f(v=vs.84).aspx)

# Decimal value    Description  
# -----------------------------
# -1               The user did not click a button before nSecondsToWait seconds elapsed.
# 1                OK button
# 2                Cancel button
# 3                Abort button
# 4                Retry button
# 5                Ignore button
# 6                Yes button
# 7                No button
# 10               Try Again button
# 11               Continue button

# Define Parameters
[CmdletBinding()]
    [OutputType([int])]
    Param
    (
        # The popup message
        [Parameter(Mandatory=$true,Position=0)]
        [string]$Message,

        # The number of seconds to wait before closing the popup.  Default is 0, which leaves the popup open until a button is clicked.
        [Parameter(Mandatory=$false,Position=1)]
        [int]$SecondsToWait = 0,

        # The window title
        [Parameter(Mandatory=$true,Position=2)]
        [string]$Title,

        # The buttons to add
        [Parameter(Mandatory=$true,Position=3)]
        [ValidateSet('Ok','Ok-Cancel','Abort-Retry-Ignore','Yes-No-Cancel','Yes-No','Retry-Cancel','Cancel-TryAgain-Continue')]
        [array]$ButtonType,

        # The icon type
        [Parameter(Mandatory=$true,Position=4)]
        [ValidateSet('Stop','Question','Exclamation','Information')]
        $IconType
    )

# Convert button types
switch($ButtonType)
    {
        "Ok" { $Button = 0 }
        "Ok-Cancel" { $Button = 1 }
        "Abort-Retry-Ignore" { $Button = 2 }
        "Yes-No-Cancel" { $Button = 3 }
        "Yes-No" { $Button = 4 }
        "Retry-Cancel" { $Button = 5 }
        "Cancel-TryAgain-Continue" { $Button = 6 }
    }

# Convert Icon types
Switch($IconType)
    {
        "Stop" { $Icon = 16 }
        "Question" { $Icon = 32 }
        "Exclamation" { $Icon = 48 }
        "Information" { $Icon = 64 }
    }

# Create the popup
(New-Object -ComObject Wscript.Shell).popup($Message,$SecondsToWait,$Title,$Button + $Icon)
}

# Close the Task Sequence Progress UI temporarily (if it is running) so the popup is not hidden behind
try
    {
        $TSProgressUI = New-Object -COMObject Microsoft.SMS.TSProgressUI
        $TSProgressUI.CloseProgressDialog()
    }
Catch {}

# Define the parameters.  View the function parameters above for other options.
$Params = @(
    "The software 'Custom IE Plugin' is being installed to your computer. Please close Internet Explorer then click OK to continue." # Popup message
    0                           # Seconds to wait till the popup window is closed
    "Contoso IT: Custom IE Plugin" # title
    "Ok"                        # Button type
    "Exclamation"               # Icon type
    )

# Run the function
New-PopupMessage @Params

I place this script in a network share that everyone can access, and then simply call it during the task sequence using ServiceUI.exe.

How to Do It

Firstly, I need to create a package in SCCM containing the ServiceUI.exe for x86 and x64 architectures.  This package has no program, but simply contains the exe files, which I have renamed per architecture.  You can find the ServiceUI.exe in the following locations in your MDT install:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Deployment Toolkit\Templates\Distribution\Tools\x64, or
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Deployment Toolkit\Templates\Distribution\Tools\x86

Capture

Once I have created and distributed the package, I create a new task sequence and add two “Run command line” steps at the beginning where I will prompt the user, one for x86 OS and one for x64.

Capture

The following things are needed in this step:

  • Use the package you created that contains the ServiceUI executables
  • Call ServiceUI using a process that the end user is running.  This enables ServiceUI to detect the session of the end user and interact with it.  If you are using a task sequence deployment with the option “Show task sequence progress” enabled, then you can use the tsprogressui.exe process, however if you are hiding the task sequence progress from the user, then this process will not exist, so you can call Explorer.exe which is certain to be running in the user session.
    • Eg, ServiceUI_x86 -process:Explorer.exe
  • You must specify the full path to powershell.exe
    • Eg, %SYSTEMROOT%\System32\WindowsPowershell\v1.0\powershell.exe
  • Use the “-File” parameter to call the powershell script that displays the popup.
  • Do NOT use the “timeout” option in the step, as this will cause ServiceUI to give an access denied error.
  • On the Option tab of the step, I use a couple of WMI queries so that the step only runs if the correct OS architecture is detected, and the Internet Explorer process is actually running.  I don’t want to prompt the user to close IE if it’s not actually open.
    • Eg, Select * from win32_OperatingSystem where OSArchitecture = ’32-bit’
    • Select * from Win32_Process where Name = ‘iexplore.exe’

Capture

A couple of things to note:

  • You could include the PowerShell script in the package with the ServiceUI executables, then you can call it locally instead of from a network share.  But the advantage of keeping the script and the executables separate is that you don’t need to create a new package each time you want to add a prompt – you simply reuse the ServiceUI package and create a new PowerShell script in the network share by copying and updating and existing script.
  • If you are using the “Show task sequence progress” option, the script includes some code that will hide the progress UI temporarily while the popup is displayed, otherwise it may appear behind the progress UI.
  • Don’t try to pass parameters when calling the PowerShell script, ServiceUI doesn’t seem to like that.
  • The script function includes a “SecondsToWait” parameter – this is set to 0 by default, which means the popup will stay on the screen indefinitely until a button is clicked.  In some cases this may not be desirable, so you can set a value here such that the task sequence will continue if no button has been clicked for some time.

Next, in case the user ignored the prompt or it timed-out, we add another “Run command line” step to kill the process forcefully using taskkill, if it is still running.

  • Eg, cmd /c taskkill /F /IM iexplore.exe

Capture

Make sure to add the same WMI process query to this step:

Capture

Then in the last step, we install the application itself.

Now, when the application is deployed to the end user’s machine, the first thing that happens is they get a popup on the screen warning them to close Internet Explorer.

Capture

Sweet 🙂

You could customise this further by adding some code to the script that will set a task sequence variable based on the exit code of the popup function, which will tell you what button was pressed, for example Yes, No, Ok, Cancel, Abort, Retry etc.  Then you could perform different activities in the task sequence based on the value of the variable.

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