Zero Administration for Windows is Microsoft's initiative to help make its operating system easier to install and manage. The goal is to reduce the ownership costs of PCs, particularly in large corporations with many thousands of desktop computers to support.
Microsoft introduced Zero Administration in November 1996, at a time when Oracle and Sun were touting their own approach of "network computers" as a new way of doing corporate applications with less overhead than traditional PCs. Microsoft responded with its concept of Zero Administration. The idea was to include in all of Microsoft's Windows operating systems features that would simplify the time it took to install and maintain the system on thousands of machines -- and at the same time reduce the costs of keeping PCs in corporate America.
Microsoft provides Zero Administration packs for Windows NT and Windows 98. These packs include features to automatically send out operating-system and application software updates throughout the company from one workstation, and having these updates roll back to the previous version if something goes wrong during the process.
For Windows 2000, Zero Administration's Group Policy feature lets administrators set rights and permissions for network and application access on the group level instead of having to do it for each individual user. If everyone in the legal department needs the same permissions and rights to applications, administrators need set this up only once for all the employees in the department.