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  • Blog Post: Restart Manager functionality in WiX 3.5

    WiX 3.5 provides features to integrate with Visual Studio 2005, 2008, and 2010. But like many add-ins, since new files are being added they certainly can’t be in use by devenv.exe. So when we call devenv.exe /setup as part of our install, the changes may not show up in running instances of Visual Studio...
  • Blog Post: WoW64 is optional in Windows Server 2008 R2 Server Core

    Installation bootstrap applications are increasingly common as products chain dependencies like the Microsoft .NET Framework. Because 64-bit Windows supports both 32- and 64-bit execution , but 64-bit executables on 32-bit Windows give what some users might consider cryptic error messages, installation...
  • Blog Post: Windows Installer XML (WiX) v3 Beta Released

    Since plans were made to ship WiX v3 in the box for Visual Studio 2010, the WiX working group has been working on fixing all outstanding bugs in the WiX v3 code base. Bob Arnson uploaded packages last week as a test on SourceForge and this week the following installation packages were uploaded on the...
  • Blog Post: Why Windows Installer May Require so much Disk Space

    Windows Installer is an engine for performing transactional installations. When installing a product for the fist time, most often few or no files to be installed are already present on the machine. But when upgrading or patching a product, most often those files are replaced so copies must be kept if...
  • Blog Post: Windows Installer 4.5 Beta 2 Available

    The Windows Installer team released Windows Installer 4.5 Beta 2 recently. While not a lot has visibly changed since the first beta for which I provided an overview , it's important to note that a new column was added to the CustomAction table since changes to column types are not supported in a transform...
  • Blog Post: Debugging Custom Actions: Leaked Handles

    Debugging custom actions isn't exactly the easiest action to do; Windows Installer spawns separate processes - remoting servers - to run in-process custom actions. Any opportunity to diagnose issues without debugging can be helpful. For example, an issue that comes up from time to time is leaked handles...
  • Blog Post: Different Packages are Required for Different Processor Architectures

    A common question is how to create a Windows Installer package that installs 32-bit binaries on 32-bit platforms, and both 32- and 64-bit binaries on 64-bit platforms. If you're actually trying to install 64-bit binaries to appropriate directories and write to the 64-bit view of the registry, the short...
  • Blog Post: ResolveSource Requires Source

    It might be tempting to schedule the ResolveSource action , but ResolveSource actually requires that the original installation source is available whenever it is called. If your installer package is authored correctly, source must only be resolve in cases where the original RTM files are missing or during...
  • Blog Post: EXE Custom Actions are Bad

    Windows Installer custom actions that launch executables (base custom action type msidbCustomActionTypeExe , 0x2) are typically bad and should be avoided. How are they bad? Let the Windows Installer team count the ways . During internal audits we question any EXE custom actions (CAs) but inevitably some...
  • Blog Post: What's New in Windows Installer 4.5: Overview

    The What's New section of the Windows Installer 4.5 CHM available in the downloads section of the Windows Installer 4.5 Beta Connect site has technical details of new functionality and changes as usual, but now that we can talk about Windows Installer 4.5 I wanted to provide an overview of the new functionality...
  • Blog Post: Installing to TARGETDIR

    The TARGETDIR property , paired with the SourceDir property in the Directory table , determines the root directory into which all files are copied unless otherwise located. During an administrative installation when all files are extracted the TARGETDIR, this is the only root directory on the file system...
  • Blog Post: Immediate Custom Actions Always Impersonate

    Windows Installer is a client/server application. When you install a package using msiexec.exe - which is executed by default in response to shell verbs such as Install - or APIs like MsiInstallProduct the package is initially processed under the user's credentials. This means, of course, that in over...
  • Blog Post: Windows Installer Errors 2738 and 2739 with Script Custom Actions

    Windows Script custom actions should be avoided . They are difficult to debug, get blocked by virus scanners, and are far more susceptible to machine state than native custom actions. That is indicated by Windows Installer error messages 2738 and 2739, which read: 2738, Could not access VBScript run...
  • Blog Post: Custom Action Guidelines

    Rob Mensching, father of Windows Installer XML (WiX), blogs about why managed custom actions are a bad idea . Aaron Stebner follows up by saying (and has said before ): "Avoid custom actions entirely if at all possible. "Investigate the WiX build-in custom actions if you find a setup action that...
  • Blog Post: Installation Guidelines for User-editable Configuration

    A common problem with installations is user-editable files and registry keys. Configuration of this nature is a problem for every installer technology, but here are some guidelines to help developers overcome problems like users' preferences being reset during repair. Windows Installer is a data-driven...
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