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How to Automatically Send Scheduled Popup Alerts throughout the Day to Remind XP clients of Future Forced Shutdowns

Posted on 2004-04-16
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-05-18
I have enabled the GPO settings in Windows Server 2003 to automatically download and install Windows Updates for my XP clients at a set scheduled time.  I have the option to apply these updates and automatically rebooting the XP computer after a countdown of five minutes, or waiting for a user to log off.  I prefer the forced reboot after countdown method because if a non-administrator is logged into one of these XP clients, they can't cancel the update and must log off to allow for the updates to begin.  I will set this schedule at an appropriate time in the wee hours of the morning.

As a result, I would like to send out to all the networked XP clients one of those little yellow balloon messenger popup alerts that appear in the system tray (or perhaps one of those Net Send gray standard WinPop type message dialogs) that remind users that their computer will be automatically rebooted at a set time and should be shutdown.  This is to prevent people who typically leave their computers on all day and night during the week to remember to log off on Friday evening, for example, since updates will be applied on the weekend.

Can this be done with Alerter or Messenger services, perhaps in combination with Scheduled Tasks or other built-in utility?  I'm sure there are millions of third-party utilities that will allow me to do this, but I'm looking for a Microsoft tool, feature, utility or GPO setting that will accomplish this.

Thanks in advance.
Question by:CurtisCee
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Expert Comment

ID: 10841019

You could schedule a net send command.


NET SEND {name | * | /DOMAIN[:name] | /USERS} message
Sends messages to other users, computers, or messaging names on the network. The Messenger service must be running to receive messages.

You can send a message only to an name that is active on the network. If the message is sent to a username, that user must be logged on and running the Messenger service to receive the message.

name  Is the username, computername, or messaging name to send the message to. If the name is a computername that contains blank characters, enclose the alias in quotation marks (" ").
* Sends the message to all the names in your group.
/DOMAIN[:name]  Sends the message to all the names in the workstation domain. If name is specified, the message is sent to all the names in the specified domain or workgroup.
/USERS Sends the message to all users connected to the server.
message Is text to be sent as a message.


More info here:



Author Comment

ID: 10841098
Thanks IceRaven.  I did see this earlier myself, which describes how to send net messages.  But there is no mentioned way to SCHEDULE the sending of net messages.  If you have found a way to actually schedule them, please include the step-by-step commands or formatting that I'd need to set it up.  Thanks.
LVL 16

Expert Comment

ID: 10841239

Look at the AT command running from a DC:

AT /every:monday,tuesday,wednesday,thursday,friday "net send /domain logoff tonight!"

You might need to tweak the syntax, but this should do what you're after


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Expert Comment

ID: 10841526
Type this at the command line...

schtasks /create /tn "Message Users" /tr "net send MYCOMPUTER This is the Message" /sc daily /st 11:00:00 /ru MYCOMPUTER\USERNAME /rp PASSWORD

Replace capitals with appropriate.  Schedules the command everyday at 11am

This evplains the command line in detail:



Accepted Solution

IceRaven earned 2000 total points
ID: 10841591
Oh and I tested the command, works on my computer no problems.  you will need to tweak the net send command to send a message to all computers on your domains.  Give me a yell if you need help.

Truthfully, although it was fun to do this via the commandline, you could ofcource use the task scheduler that comes with Win 2003.  Start->Programs->Accessories->System Tools->Task Scheduler


Expert Comment

ID: 10841640
Task Scheduler = Scheduled Tasks I think actually

and the net send command syntax you need is

net send * Log off NOW or I kill the cute little kitten

This will send the message to all users of the same domain.


Author Comment

ID: 10846689
Thanks JamesDS and IceRaven.  I'll be out tonight, but I will test them both when I return tomorrow.  I should be able to award points by Monday if all goes well.

I love this site!

Author Comment

ID: 10847350
I would have liked to award JamesDS some points for his well-intentioned answer, but I think ultimately it would not have sufficed: http://www.winnetmag.com/Windows/Article/ArticleID/24569/24569.html .  But thank you very much for the suggestion.

IceRaven quickly delivered a response and followed-up with increasing detail.  It took me a minute to actually configure Scheduled Tasks to do what I wanted, but it was a very brief minute.  For the best user experience, show exactly how one would configure Scheduled Tasks.  For example, a person like myself might have a brief moment of stupidity and wonder how to have the Scheduled Tasks point to the net send command.  But 30 seconds later, the Duh! period passed.  If your Windows folder is on the E: drive, then you would have the Run: field under the Task tab say:

E:\WINDOWS\system32\net.exe send * This is a Test.  Please disregard.

But had I asked for even more detail, IceRaven would have replied, and anyone who responded sooner with the same reply would only have done so after following his lead.  And they wouldn't have been so amusing with senseless violence against a little kitty.  So with quickness, escalating detail, a sense of humor, and most importantly, a resolution that worked, I gladly award IceRaven the 500 points.  1 for the answer; 499 for a solution that I should've known had I put 2 seconds of thought into it: My question practically matches the solution! But thanks for saving me the time and trouble.  I joke, but it is very much appreciated.

Expert Comment

ID: 10847478
Your very welcome.  Glad to have saved you a few seconds :)


Expert Comment

ID: 10871673
Is there any reason you cannot deploy Microsoft's FREE Windows Update Services (WUS)? Windows Update Services is the successor to Microsoft Software Update Services (SUS). Moreover, SUS-SP2 is forthcoming and will include Microsoft Office updates and patches as well.

SUS Home page:

White Paper describing this tool in detail:

SUS interactive simulation:


Expert Comment

ID: 10871701
Additionally, you can then use Group Policy, over your entire DC or a particular OU, to force the client to fetch updates from your "SUS Server" ... the location where you installed SUS. You can also dictate the time to check for updates and whether or not to force reboot afterwards.

While I think it's a great tool, it still requires some digging into log files -- both on the SUS Server and at the client(s) -- if you want to be certain that updates are indeed being deployed.


Author Comment

ID: 10873841
Windows Server 2003 does provide that functionality with either Windows Update, SUS or WUS, as you stated.  However, I was not trying to figure out a way how to update these workstations, merely a convenient way to notify endusers of the pending updates before the computers are forced to reboot.  The  IceRaven solution worked fine for me.

Thanks for the info about WUS though.  It sounds interesting.

Expert Comment

ID: 10941290
btw, a group of admins i met with last weekend are getting (only) about a 2/3rds success** with SUS on 2003 to xp clients.  this stat was echo'd by the 'expert panel' at the seminar.  their main issue is that at the server there's no easy way to tell if the patch(es) were applied "for sure" (without checking the clients)  hopefully WUS will have a higher success rate. [**non-success = when the server thinks a client is updated so doesn't try again, but the client doesn't have patch xyz and is vulnerable]

if you're in the need now, some more info here: http://www.nwc.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=18402738 

and from the last page of that article:

Under an increasing amount of pressure to help solve the patching problem, Microsoft last year released SUS, or Software Update Services, a free, bare-bones solution for deploying operating system patches to Microsoft platforms. Although the basic package left a lot to be desired, it did give organizations a cost-effective way of keeping critical systems up-to-date in an automated manner. (We didn't include SUS in our tests because its functionality doesn't measure up to that of the other products we reviewed.)

We spoke with the folks in Redmond about the company's plans for SUS and found Microsoft has some ambitious goals. For starters, it plans to release the successor to SUS, WUS (Windows Update Services), in the second half of this year. A major part of the plan is to consolidate the patching process into a single mechanism for all patch types (operating system and application), reduce the number of necessary reboots, enable rollback functionality across the board and ensure that all patches use the same installation process by the end of 2004. These would be improvements, and we hope the company can make good on these promises.

even more info here: http://www.nwc.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=18402719


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