The Windows Installer 4.5 Beta site on http://connect.microsoft.com/ now has two white papers.  One is an update to the existing "Agility Trends in Packaged Software" paper that was initially posted at the end of June.  The other is a new "Agile Product Advances in Windows Installer 4.5" paper.  Please send feedback using the Feedback menu option on the left hand side of the page.

Ten Frequently Asked Questions about these White Papers

Q: Why not just blog the papers?
A: I tried that with the UAC in MSI series on my own blog and the results were mixed.  Since that initial blog based attempt, I've been following the guidance of the book "Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged" by Michael A. Stelzner.  In this book, Mr. Stelzner makes a case for the white paper medium and its currency particularly for decision makers.  The reception from the paper format has been better than the reception to the blog.

Q: Why just a draft?
A: Principally because the budget for an editor is still pending.  Secondarily because I'm open to significant changes if there is significant feedback  to do the white papers differently.

Q: Why two papers?
A: Mr. Stelzner makes a strong case in his book that a paper needs to be targeted to the reader and their need.  The first paper "Agility Trends in Packaged Software" is meant to help generate demand without delving into the semantics of the engineering.  With this first paper, I targeted a manager feeling the pressure but not quite sure what to do about it.  The second paper "Agile Product Advances in Windows Installer 4.5" is meant to help answer some initial questions that the demand paper may have generated.  With the second paper, I targeted an engineer that needs to provide answers to the manager through discussing common ways folks solve the agility problem and how using Windows Installer 4.5 can help them deliver differentiated agility for their product. 

Q: Will there be more papers?
A: One more for sure.  I have a release paper in the queue that is simply a document to say what's in the beta.  This one will contain notes of features that we're taking down level and known issues that we're shipping in the beta.  Beyond this, it would be useful to have a paper that provides a comparative analysis of agile solutions but that's looks to be beyond the scope of the Windows Installer 4.5 release itself.

Q: Can I talk or blog about the contents of the paper?
A: Yes, please.  Getting the right End User License Agreement on the papers is part of help I need from the editor.

Q; Where's the updates to the Windows Installer portion of the Windows Platform Software Development Kit?
A: I've got clearance to provide the MSI.CHM with the binaries for the beta.  The troubles with the MSDN web site are being looked into but there is no anticipated change.

Q: When will the code be available?
A: Any Day Now... (see last post)

Q: How can I get access to the papers?
A: Travel to http://connect.microsoft.com/, login with a live ID, click on the Available Programs on the left hand menu, choose Windows Installer 4.5, once in the program, click on downloads on the left hand menu.

Q: Did the downloading issue from last time get cleared up?
A: Sorry, last time I had a permissions problem.  To confirm I've not repeated that mistake, I've asked a friend who has a typical user account to check the site and confirm he can download the docs.  He did check and he was able to download both (thanks Bob).  There are occasionally issues with the connect server that are beyond my control.

Q: This is great but why didn't you do the rest of the end to end scenario?
A: Yes, we recognize that we've made an incremental improvement but fulfillment of the end to end scenario is dependent on work in the layers above and below Windows Installer.  We felt it more important to take an incremental step in the desired direction rather than wait to deliver the complete end-to-end story.  We trust these features will unblock those committed to Windows Installer when they add their layer(s) of code completing the scenarios.  We are grateful for the effort our partners extend to our mutual customers through our technology.  We hope our incremental progress plus the efforts of our committed developers and partners will push change must faster than a monolithic change implemented solely at the Windows Installer layer.

[Author: Robert Flaming]
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