If you are an Internet service provider, you can distribute the custom browser package that you created with Windows® Internet Explorer® Administration Kit (IEAK) either using a CD-ROM or from the Internet. If you distribute it from the Internet, you can either use one of the server-based sign-up methods or use a serverless (client-based) sign-up method. For more information about sign-up methods, see Prepare for Internet Sign-up and Sign-up Method.


The Internet sign-up option is not available for the Windows Vista® operating system.

Distributing a custom package with a server-based sign-up method

If you use a server-based sign-up method, the sign-up process for your custom browser package occurs in three steps:

  1. Your customer's computer establishes a connection with the sign-up server.

  2. An HTML/HTTP-based dialog box collects information from the user, and adds the customer information to your customer database.

  3. The sign-up server passes a configuration packet back to the customer's computer. The packet includes information about configuration and branding. It also includes the local phone number so that the customer can access the Internet service provider.


If your customer's Internet Explorer security settings are set to High, the sign-up server does not work because the necessary files cannot be downloaded to the user's computer.

Establishing a connection with the sign-up server

Your customer opens the sign-up program, which starts Internet Explorer, dials the sign-up server, and posts an initial connection request. Then, the sign-up server does the following:

  1. It accepts the request from the user's computer (the HTTP client) and establishes an HTTP connection.

  2. It creates a local data store for accumulating the information that the user enters.

  3. It assigns a unique session handle that is embedded in all subsequent HTTP transactions with the client.

HTTP is normally a sessionless protocol, with no communication between the sender and receiver. However, the sign-up server operates in a session-oriented mode and uses the session handle to identify all transactions associated with the sign-up process for a particular user. For example, the session handle could be an automatically generated number sequence assigned to this transaction by your database.

Collecting your customer's sign-up information

The sign-up server collects user information from a sequence of HTML pages that walk the user through the sign-up process, much like a wizard in a Windows-based program. The sign-up server uploads the pages, on demand, to the user's computer. The sign-up process concludes when the user accepts or declines the sign-up agreement on the final page.

You can choose your own content and format for the HTML pages. Typically, each page includes the following:

  • A form to provide information.

  • Navigation buttons to move forward or backward between pages.

  • A button to cancel the sign-up session.

Each HTML form includes controls for collecting input text, navigating between pages, and identifying the session. The form gathers information from the user and passes it to the sign-up server when the user clicks a navigation button. Also, the sign-up server can validate the data and post an edit page to the user's computer if the data is not acceptable.


Make sure that you save the HTML file in the correct folder on the sign-up server. The Signup.htm file includes a link to server files for Windows 32-bit versions.

Passing a configuration packet back to the user's computer

If the user accepts the sign-up agreement, the sign-up server builds a configuration packet with an .ins file (generated by the Internet Explorer Customization Wizard 8) that includes information about the user and your Internet services. The .ins file can contain only connection settings or various settings and graphics.

The sign-up server passes the configuration packet back to the user's computer by using the .ins file, which can be generated dynamically or simply redirected to the client computer. Then, the user's computer can continue the process of installing the custom browser package. If the user declines or quits the sign-up agreement, the sign-up server redirects the user's computer to a file that cancels the sign-up process.

The configuration packet includes the following information:

  • Data for configuring Internet connections.

  • Capabilities of the user's account (including e-mail and newsreaders).

  • Branding information, which customizes the appearance of the sign-up pages for your organization.

  • The local phone number, so the user can access your Internet services.

The first two types of data are created as part of the sign-up server. The Internet Explorer Customization Wizard 8 prepares the .ins file for branding.

Distributing a custom package with a client-based sign-up method

Your custom package includes a configuration file, Install.ins, which contains the settings you specified in the Internet Explorer Customization Wizard 8 for your custom browser. Unlike one of the server-based sign-up methods, this .ins file contains no user-specific configuration information. When the user starts the sign-up program, a link from the local HTML page starts the .ins file. The user provides the user name, password, and connection information. Then, the .ins file configures the user's account to connect to the Internet using the customized browser.

Additional references