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Application Compatibility - MSI Installer Issues

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In this video, we chat with Robert Flaming about application compatibility issues around Windows Installer for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. Mark Taylor, from our first Application Compatibility video, sits in as well to fire off some important questions (well, questions that are perhaps more educated than I would ask Tongue Out).

So if you work on a product that is using Windows Installer and you are planning on deploying your product to Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008, make sure to tune in! This video is almost all audio (very little need for video), so feel free to download the audio file for that next car ride you have if you wish!

Some links of interest:

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  • Why is the volume so low in this video? Gotta keep a hand on the volume control to go up and down between the interviewer and interviewee.
  • Yeah, that's my bad. Sorry about that. I'm still getting used to all of this gear Smiley.
  • graboygraboy graboy
    Despite a few bright spots, application installation and mangement is a key area where Windows continues to lag behind even the basic facilities offered by its compettition. Opportunities abound in this area to improve user experience and yet they go unfulfilled, blocked by the burden of a disastrous series of legacy decisions.

    One day I hope Windows gets a first class package manager and format. I would very much like to never have a program I can't uninstall again. I would like it if installing or uninstalling one application doesn't break another.  I would like to be able to install personal software for an unpriviledge account (such as a game, provided policy does not restrict it). I would like to be able to run apps directly from removable media or a network share. I would like to be able to install multiple instances of IIS. I would like to be able to install multiple versions of Word. I wouild like the system to help manage automatic update of third party software. I would like the system to provide an application firewall that would prevent a compromised application from accessing APIs it didn't declare it uses. I would like to see applications restricted to seeing only the file areas and file types it declares it can handle. I would like Windows to correctly manage dependencies for a change. I would like applications to be isolated from harming each other. I would like common application interactions to be mediated by the system in a well behaved way.

    There are things that give me some hope in this area. Microsoft's aquisition of Softtricity is one of them. Being able to virtualize the changes an install makes to the system so that there is a minimal impact on the hosting machine is potentially a killer capability. It would be interesting if developers could produce this type of package directly one day (without the capture phase). Hell it might even be possible to fake out legacy installers to run in a capture session automatically.


  • graboy,

    The problem with all your requests is that, if fulfilled, the system would be about as usable as Linux is as a Desktop.  I manage one SUSE Linux box, so I'm speaking from experience, though limited.

    Although your requests sound reasonable, the end result would likely be as bad as the Vista security model.  Yeah, it sounded good on paper, but the reality is exactly as depected in the Apple ad.

    I don't use Vista.  Instead, I develop directly on Windows Server 2003.
  • I had to switch to XP simply because of the time MSI apps and Hotfix apps take to install on Vista. Just the other day I installed .NET 3.5 64-bit from the full downloaded setup and it took nearly 45 mins on a clean Vista install. I have a Core 2 Duo system with 2 GB RAM, not even 6 months old.
  • earnshawearnshaw Jack Sleeps
    I can dig the wants and needs expressed here.  The Windows Security Model is so blasted complex, you get results you never antipicated AND you can't always get the results you want.  It would be nice to install a piece of software and to tell the OS to prevent it from ever touching this, this, this, and that over there.  We muddle through with Group Policy and DACLs.
  • Virtualization seems the way to go here, I use Wise Installation Studio to create installers and the abalitiy is there to create virtual packages although a "capture phase " is neeeded
  • I am interested in more details of how to chain MSI's.  I've been using merge modules to combine multiple products into one installer.  The Suite I install has products developed in three sites around the world.  It has been very difficult to get the install working correctly since we run into sequencing issues as all three products need to run custom actions throughout the install.

    I would very much like to have each site develope their own MSI and then the suite installer could invoke each one and any install problems could be addressed by the team that built that installer.  In this talk it isn't clear to me whether Robert is talking about chaining as done in MSI 4.5, or whether he is talking about chaining via an executable (.exe) using MSI 3.1 (for example). 

    My requirements are to support GPO installations.  This, as I understand it, precludes using a .exe chainer.  GPO requires an MSI package to be run without any command line configurations.  I need to supply an MSI.  I guess I could supply multiple MSI's but this makes life complicated for admins distributing the suite.

    I'm evaluating MSI 4.5.  I understand it supports chaining via a new table in the MSI database.  I'm authoring the installer with Wix.  Does Wix support populating the chained install table?

    Robert talked about "Advertising" applications as a key part of chaining.  Was this just a way to get around UAC prompts at each install?  My applications need to be installed at once, not on user access.  Our security software should run without the user doing anything.  Is there a way the parent installer could advertise each sub application and then invoke them to get them to install?

     

     

  • I would not make a genaralization about linux desktop from SUSE since it's main focus is not the desktop in the first place.  But I do have to agree that what he was explaining soulded like APT to me too (and some).  Both sides of that coin have some good and bad.  Some standardized rules should resolve some dependency issues.

  • Today, I changed to Windows 7 and I feel right with windows 7, windows vista is too bad

    -MarieCurie

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