Aaron Stebner's WebLog

Thoughts about setup and deployment issues, WiX, XNA, the .NET Framework and Visual Studio

Striving for increased consistency in MS setups

Striving for increased consistency in MS setups

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This is in response to a couple of comments in my earlier post about inconsistencies in MS setups.  First - is Microsoft going to address issues of inconsistency.  This is a problem that has been rattling around my mind for a while and I'm finally starting to get some of my ideas in writing.  I've still got some research that I need to do to find out what other similar efforts exist elsewhere in the company (if any).  Depending on what I find, I'm going to jump into some kind of virtual team to get this effort moving or try to start my own bandwagon and try to find others to jump on with me.  I'm not sure where it will lead at this point but I'm finding myself energized to at least explore and see where it leads me.

Traditionally, I've seen setup treated as an afterthought (example quote - “all it does is copy files and set registry keys, what is so hard about that?“)  I've come to recognize that it is not just about getting the bits on the machine, it is the first chance you have to make an impression on your customer - if setup does its job, it will not even be noticed, but if something goes wrong the entire relationship with that customer is changed.

It is also not just about the end-user, you have to also recognize and make it as easy as possible for the administrator to roll out your product to labs, corporate campuses, etc.  This is a big area where best practices that are shared across MS and the industry can provide a big bang for the buck I think.  This also ties into the 2nd comment to my previous post - what is MS doing to make it easier to tie setups together?  This is something I've seen us struggle with internally - some MS teams want to be able to execute SQL scripts like the comment mentions or they want to chain together several MSI-based setups into one seamless experience.  There is  more and more recognition - particularly from teams that build setups that are intended to be redistributable and chained with other setups - that this problem needs to be solved.  What I haven't seen yet is a lot of momentum to push out the tools and fixes needed to do this - I'm hoping I just haven't found these efforts yet and the research I'm embarking on (mentioned above) will lead me to them.  We'll see though....stay tuned.....

 

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