If you are web developer using Microsoft stack, then you would probably know about the awesome Express edition products (Visual Web Developer Express, Sql Server 2008 Express, Visual C# 2008 Express and others). I refer my friends (and fellow geeks) to the these various install locations (MSDN, Microsoft downloads, etc) to get those dev tools to try out and 9 times out of 10 they are awed by the richness of these tools.

Every once a while, when I get to setup a new development box I need to setup and configure those tools on my PC as well. Setting up these can take up quite a bit manual, hands-on work. But guess what… I have a way to get that hour+ of my life back with a new tool from Microsoft.

Presenting the wonderful time saver called Microsoft Web Platform Installer (www.microsoft.com/web).

Here is what the Web PI team says about the installer here

The Microsoft Web Platform Installer 2.0 (Web PI) is a free tool that makes it simple to download, install and keep up-to-date with the latest components of the Microsoft Web Platform, including Internet Information Services (IIS), SQL Server Express, .NET Framework and Visual Web Developer. In addition, install popular open source ASP.NET and PHP web apps with the Web PI.

Earlier this week I had to reinstall my dev environment and I stumbled upon this tool which let me install ASP.NET, MVC update, VWD 2008, Sql Server Express, Silverlight 2 tools for Visual Studio 2008 SP1. Using the Web PI 2.0 beta, I was able to select them and have the tool install them in an automated fashion while I was doing other weekend things. Nice. Really nice.

Web PI v2 beta even allows you to install and configure many community downloads (blogs engines, wiki engines, gallery). Check it out.

Go ahead, give it a spin. You’ll like it.

- Chandra