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Is Windows Installer a support nightmare?

Hi All,

I'm currently releasing my second major Win32 product line. My first was a VB6 based desktop app that I used the built-in Setup & Deployment wizard to create the deployment package for. This new product line consists of four versions of the same .NET Win32 desktop app. I bought WISE for VS.NET to use for the installation creation for this one.

In the first app, *every* (maybe 2-3 calls a month on 250 copies sold per year) customer support request was related to installation issues. In testing before releasing the app we identified four failure scenarios during the install, three of which were Windows Instaler conflicts, and the other a known bug in the VB6 VM redistibutable.

In this second app, which is just being publically released this week, we've come across a few Windows Installer issues again. The main one, of course, affects everyone using my main client's network. They use remote My Documents folders, and Windows Installer balks at this (Gives an out of disk space error, but shows gigs free and 50mb needed).

I created a backup installation using Inno Setup, which has none of the problems. It just works. We put it on the CD in case we needed it as a tech support option. The only reason that I didn't use it exclusively is that there doesn't seem to be an accepted way of integrating the detection and installation of the .NET Framework, which I feel is vital.

So, what is everyone else's experience with this? I know a lot of you like and reccomend Inno, but is this more because of the program itself, or also because of the resulting setups as compared to Windows Installer?

Right now I think that I'm going to look into integrating the .NET Framework support into Inno for our next project. I'm just concerned that this may not be reliable and could cause other suport headaches for us. I like the idea of integrating the setup right into VS, but Wise has a conflict with somehting in my project's configuration which causes it to cras the IDE any time a Wise project is opened, so I'm using it stand-alone anyways.

Also, with Wise I felt a bit safer as I could go to them with bugs/issues, but I've found that they just blame them on MS and tell you to upgrade to their newly released version for $500 per seat even though a) we bought this version six months ago at the start of the project and b) the demo of the new version shows the same exact issues. At least with Inno there's a helpful user base to go to.

  --Josh

JWA
Friday, September 12, 2003

Have you tried the included setup and deployment projects that come with VS.Net? We were actually going to switch to them _from_ wise installer for our first .Net project.

Chris
Friday, September 12, 2003

Hi,

We too initially released our app with the P&D Wizard, but came up against a number of problems relating to the installation. We ended up switching to the Windows Installer technology and have had no problems since then.

We use a product called ActiveInstall. I would definately recommend it. Their web-site is www.ActiveInstall.com.

Kevin

Kevin Moore
Friday, September 12, 2003

The short answer is Yes.


But, then again, installation always seems to be a pain. We haven't tried Wise yet, but the guy who is responsible for all our installs wants to try it.

pdq
Friday, September 12, 2003

The issues that I'm seeing aren't related to the component used to create the Windows Installer files, it's the Windows Installer technology itself. Wise is pretty awesome in general, but Windows Installer seems to be rather picky as to the conditions under which it will install, even for a simple x-copy like we're doing (we're not registering anything other than MDAC).


  --Josh

JWA
Friday, September 12, 2003

JWA,

<quote>
In this second app, which is just being publically released this week, we've come across a few Windows Installer issues again. The main one, of course, affects everyone using my main client's network. They use remote My Documents folders, and Windows Installer balks at this (Gives an out of disk space error, but shows gigs free and 50mb needed).
</quote>

Have you raised this with MS?

Seeya

Matthew
Sunday, September 14, 2003

I've googled it and found refference to others experiencing it. It's a known issue, so maybe the new release that they're beta testing right now will resolve it.

  --Josh

JWA
Sunday, September 14, 2003

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