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List the installed software on any network PC with Basic Software Inventory

28 December 2013, Mike Williams

When you’re managing a network then it’s important to keep track of the software installed on each system, and Basic Software Inventory is convenient way to help, quickly listing everything installed on your target system.

Well, maybe not quite “everything”; the program can only itemise applications installed with the Windows installer, a significant restriction. Don’t let that put you off, though, because Software Inventory has other interesting aspects, including the fact that it’s an HTML Application, a plain text HTA file, so you can see how the program works and even tweak it to suit your needs.

Basic Software Inventory arrives as a single Software.hta file. Click this, type the name or IP address of the computer you’d like to check (or for the current system), and click “Go”. The full scan may take a few moments, but once it’s finished you’ll see a list of your installed applications: name, version, vendor, installation date and other details.

It’s amazing what you can do with some HTML and a little scripting

If you need to share this information then it can be selected, copied and pasted like any other text (click in the box, press Ctrl+A , Ctrl+C to copy it all, say). Alternatively, click “Copy” to copy a tab-delimited version, ready for pasting into any convenient spreadsheet.

And if the report is just too lengthy, Basic Software Inventory’s filters may help you zoom in on the data you need. You can restrict the list to a particular program name, vendor or installation date; just enter what you need, and click Go to view a cut-down list.

If you know anything about scripting, though, the most interesting part of Basic Software Inventory is in looking at the source code and seeing how it all works. Drag and drop Software.hta onto Notepad and take a look. Edit the code as necessary to customise it, save the results as a new HTA file, then double-click to try it out.

And if you like the core idea, don’t miss Basic Hardware Inventory, by the same developer: it’s a surprisingly capable system information tool, also very neatly packaged as a tiny HTML Application.

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