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Windows Installer Webcast Q&A Transcript

This is a log of the q&a chat as it happended. It is not an official transcript.

Webcast: Designing Software Installations for Windows Vista Using Windows Installer 4.0

In this webcast, we cover the new software installation features of Microsoft Windows Installer 4.0 in the Windows Vista operating system. Windows Installer 4.0 offers innovations that are important to software developers, such as integration with User Account Control (UAC), the ability to mitigate system restarts when applying patches, and improved logging functionality. We explain how to take advantage of the powerful new features in Windows Installer 4.0 and provide you with the best practices for developing installation software targeting Windows Vista.
This is an updated version of the webcast on the same topic held on June 23, 2006.
Tyler Robinson, Lead Program Manager, Microsoft Corporation
Tyler Robinson is a lead program manager at Microsoft responsible for the Windows Installer technology. He has overseen the releases of Windows Installer 3.0, 3.1, and now 4.0 in Windows Vista. Before joining Microsoft, Tyler was a technical evangelist and product manager at InstallShield Software Corporation, where he worked on the InstallShield Windows Installer authoring tools for more than seven years.
MSDN Webcast (Level 200)
Recorded October 30, 2006
Watch recording
Download PowerPoint slides

Q&A Chat

Question: Is running another MSI from a VBScript Custom Action the same as using a Nested MSI install?
Answer: Yes running MSI as a custom action is the same as nested MSI install.

Question: Are nested installs still supported with 4.0?
Answer: Yes nested installs are still supported in 4.0. Concurrent Installations, also called Nested Installations, is a deprecated feature of the Windows Installer. Applications installed with concurrent installations can eventually fail because they are difficult for customers to service correctly. Do not use concurrent installations to install products that are intended to be released to the public.

Question: I have tested the MsiRMFilesInUse dialog in one of my projects and after the app closes I get a message telling me that "The setup was unable to automatcally close all requested applications." Is this a problem with the app not responding to the messages and returning correctly? Is there an option for the installer to ignore them?
Answer: You might want to generate a verbose log file and take a look at which processes did not shut down. There could be a number reason why Restart Manager was unable to shutdown a process. For example, if the process was a critical / system process or if the process holding the file was MSI (msiexec.exe) itself.

Question: Vista seems to prevent modification of registry keys under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE even if a user is logged in with an administrator account. How should the install work around this issue?
Answer: This is becuase of UAC behaviour of Vista. You can modify the keys under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE in installExecute sequence once the UAC has the elevation cridentials from the user.

Question: how does the reboot manager work for session files? Additionally, MsiRMFilesInUse Dialog can be made silent too, right?
Answer: By default (Restart Manager enabled), silent UI installs will use Restart Manager to automatically shutdown applications. You could use our built in properties to control how applications shutdown and restart.

Question: Can I override the "setup.exe" detection so that when running a setup.exe (for example as created by InstallShield) it is not elevated until the installation actually needs the priviledge (i.e. when the UI sequence is finished and the execution sequence starts)? If yes, how?
Answer: This can be done by manifesting your setup.exe to asInvoker. This way, the UAC elevation prompt will be prompted from inside the Windows Installer service

Question: Regarding the earlier query of HKLM being locked to even administrators. Is it permitted to use the LockPermissions table to give full control to your own registry areas?
Answer: On Vista even members of the Administator group run as normal user. LockPermissions table will not work for your scenario. If you think you will need admin permissions then you can have a bootstrapper (setup.exe) and manifest the RunLevel of requiresAdministrator

Question: Is Windows Installer 4.0 going to be a redistributable any time soon?
Answer: Currently we don't have any plans of making MSI 4.0 redistributable.

Question: I assume that if you are running a setup.exe that is elevated by the setup detection logic then immediate CAs are running at the elevated level?
Answer: Yes the immediate CAs are running at the elevated level.

Question: can this installer run on xp
Answer: MSI4.0 is not a redistributable and hence will not run on XP. It will run only on Vista.

Question: How can I specify the log file location if I enable logging using MsiLogging? I understand MsiLogFileLocation is read-only.
Answer: You can specify log file location using MsiEnableLog function. If you are using MsiLogging property MSI will create the log file in the user temp directory.

Question: That splits my code tree, doesn't it: Won't I have to maintain an installer for both XP and Vista, then?
Answer: You can design your package to work with previous versions of installer as well as with 4.0. MSI 4.0 is compatible with previous versions of MSI.

Question: Does the Restart Manager also get invoked when running an uninstall (i.e. the application being uninstalled has components that are loaded by other applications running on the machine, which are not unloaded just because the application itself has been shut down)?
Answer: Restart Manager (if not disabled) will get invoked during the UnInstall.

Question: Any progress on the problem of "Unknown application" in UAC when you uninstall or upgrade?
Answer: We will be having a blog posting and KB article on this topic. It is expected behavior and will be this way on Vista.

Question: Scenario: I install an app with UAC disabled as elevated, later I decide to turn ON the UAC. Does this impact the application if elevated priviledges are required while running the app?
Answer: If elevated privileges are required to run the app, the the app will need to be run as administrator if UAC is turned on.

Question: Is the requirement of installing from "removable media" in order to get "UAC patching" removed? In the presentation it didn't look like you installed from a removable media.
Answer: Correct - that is no longer a requirement. Please see the topic in the SDK for updated information.

Question: If the survey did not load correctly for you, you should be able to access it at:

Question: I'd like to hear more about punting setup.exe, like Tyler started to talk about.
Answer: The question was about the upgrade experience with pure MSI. Apparently the person asking the question was concerned about doing "reacache and reinstall"-type updates and the complex command line associated with them. We recommend you use patches for small and minor updates and full-MSI packages for major upgrades. This provides the best experience all around.




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