A question been raised in a couple of contexts is the protocol for shipping a beta on beta software.

Question
What is the protocol for shipping beta software that depends on Windows Installer 4.5 beta?

Answer

We encourage producing a beta software that integrates the features of Windows Installer 4.5 beta.  There is no license that allows redistributing the Windows Installer 4.5 beta.  This does lead to the challenge of how to release a coupled beta.

During the Windows Installer 4.5 Beta period, the most resilient design is to enable the features for Windows Installer 4.5 on a "lights up" basis.  This means that when Windows Installer 4.5 is present on the machine, the software include the new enhancements and when it is not, there is a fallback path that works on the shipped versions of the Windows Installer.  This is a bit more work but customers report they benefit from this flexibility.

For our mutual customers that want to try both your beta software and the Windows Installer 4.5 beta together, we ask that you point your customers to our beta site on http://connect.microsoft.com.  While we recognize is a bit of an additional hassle, we've found that beta customers are more resilient than most to the hassles of a beta.  Further, this enables problems found in the Windows Installer 4.5 beta to be directly reported and reported and tracked through the http://connect.microsoft.com tools.

Some have noted a practice in other parts of Microsoft called a "go live" license.  The terms of a "go live" license are such that they do not Windows Installer 4.5 beta case.  The coupled beta approach with "lights up" functionality and a redirect to the Windows Installer 4.5 beta site on http://connect.microsoft.com is the preferred solution.

[Author: Robert Flaming]
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