Aaron Stebner's WebLog

Thoughts about setup and deployment issues, WiX, XNA, the .NET Framework and Visual Studio

  • Comments
  • Welcome to blogging - installation is and has always been a big issue.
    Maybe you can answer this question(s) "Why are MS Installer all so different, why do many of them have problems with unattended installation - and why do they sometimes need a user logged on?"
  • This is a really good question and another one of my pet peeves. It seems like there isn't an established standard for how to create a good or well-behaved MSI setup, even within Microsoft. For example, a lot of the stuff we learned on the setup team I worked on came from feedback for our released products. Visual Studio 2002 was the first version of VS to use MSI, and we missed some key scenarios - specifically related to Active Directory and other types of unattended deployment.

    So, to answer your questions based on my experiences so far - so many teams are creating their own setups which leads to some differences in look-and-feel and functionality. Unattended installation is too often left until the end in product design and testing and not enough focus is put on deployment scenarios. This is not true across the board, some of our products do a really good job addressing these scenarios I think, but many do not.

    Requiring a logged on user is very dependent on what the setup itself is trying to do to configure the product it is installing. There are cases where some level of elevated privileges are needed, but there are also cases where it is enforced by a setup but not truly needed and it just happened to be easier to author the setup that way.
  • You should prop this answer to a blog post so its easier for people to find... good stuff Aaron.
  • thanks for sharing your experience, I also would like to know if you (Microsoft) are doing something about this problem ?
  • What I would like to know is how Microsoft is going to help developers with building installs that need to configure other Microsoft products. For instance developing an install that has to create a database on an SQL Server. Now that is fun and I am sure everyone that has to do this has their own custom solution to solve this. Why can't SQL Server output something that an MSI builder can use to install and create a database? Oh yea and correctly setup user permissions :)
  • You know about WiX (http://blogs.msdn.com/robmen/archive/2004/04/05/107709.aspx), right?
  • Hi Aaron,

    Thanks for the blog! I am looking forward to your future posts. I do repackaging of legacy applications into MSI.

    Just one note, it looks like the link to the "MSDN Windows XP Embedded resources page" is incorrect.

    Again, thanks for the blog!

    Tom Holland
  • StickyC.com :: MSI tools
  • With the release of the WiX, I'm trying to read more about how to make an installer, and what exactly can be done with installers. While I definitely know the typical user experience with an installer, I know next to...
  • Anon, if you look at WiX, I think it actually has a built in custom action that will run code on a SQL Server. Not sure if this is what you were looking for, but this might help.
  • In Singapore, there's a lot of people using classisc OSes for their embedded devices like POS, Kiosk etc. One of the main reason they are not willing to change to XPe is DUA. With the current Windows Update technologies, customers, not OEM, can update their devices easily with just a few mouse clicks. But with DUA, even though it is automated, OEM still have to write the scripts, compile it, upload it. All these are putting them on hold in shifting to XPe. Some of the customers don't even have a software team. They are just asking one of the engineer to install W2k, XP Pro and that's it. So to ask them to write the image is already a huge task. Even if they outsource that part to us, maintaining that is just one thing too many to outsource.
  • Your Artciles and Comments helped me finish my paper , many thanks !

  • Hello,
    Is it true that you must install this and use it with VS.net 1.1?
  • DUAScriptGen is a C# application, so it requires the .NET Framework 1.1 to be installed on the machine to run correctly. It does not require the entire Visual Studio product though. Hope this helps...
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