Thoughts about setup and deployment issues, WiX, XNA, the .NET Framework and Visual Studio
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I found a couple of articles that Heath Stewart wrote a few months ago that I somehow missed at the time that he posted them. His team has been developing a new wrapper setup.exe that will be used for all future Visual Studio and .NET Framework hotfixes and service packs.
I have helped several people who ran into issues with installing hotfixes, particularly for the .NET Framework, and I anticipate that the new patch wrapper will eliminate a lot of the issues I've seen in the past, and it will also make it easier to debug failures in case they still happen. One of the key changes in the new wrapper is that it is written in native code as opposed to managed code. I have always felt that it is inherently fragile to attempt to install or patch managed code using a setup wrapper that is itself attempting to run using managed code. If anything is broken with the .NET Framework itself, you basically see the hotfix setup crash and show a stack trace (as opposed to displaying an actionable error message). This new wrapper should eliminate that nasty error case (though not necessarily the underlying problem that caused the crash to begin with).
If you're interested in more details about the new patch setup wrapper for Visual Studio and the .NET Framework, check out these posts: