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Windows Installer Updates and Patches

See also: RTPatch now also supports patching of software that was installed using Windows Installer technology. With RTPatch you can undo a patch without uninstalling the whole application.

Update Rules

If you create a new version of your program and want to be able to update existing installations either with a full install package or with a patch package, you must follow some rules. Breaking these rules will cause strange effects like previously installed features appearing as advertised after the update etc. Here are some guidelines for small and minor updates (i.e. the ProductCode doesn't change):

Written by Stefan Krueger, updated with a finding by Christopher Painter
Last update: 2011-09-23

How to Apply a Patch Without Source

In Windows Installer 2.0 a number of changes were made to reduce the need for requiring the source. Part of this requires work by the setup author in order to avoid needing the source. Note that completely eliminating the need for the source is not possible. I'll try to elaborate below on when you may need the source in Windows Installer 2.0.

Source Requirements:

Except for the broken component and missing cached package, most of these requirements are controllable by the setup author or the admin.

Posted by Carolyn Napier (Microsoft) in newsgroup microsoft.public.platformsdk.msi
Last update: 2002-02-26

Upgrading Without Patching

This article explains how to create and apply minor and major upgrades by installing a newer version of the software, not a patch. It describes the following scenarios:

This article was written with InstallShield for Windows Installer in mind. The concepts described apply to other authoring tools as well, however the steps will be different. If you are using InstallShield Developer 8 you don't need to use the procedure described here. InstallShield's setup.exe will handle this automatically if you specify so in the Upgrades view of the IDE.

Remark: If you want to use the method described in this document under "1: Upgrading by reinstalling" and have added a new feature, you cannot use "REINSTALLMODE=voums REINSTALL=ALL". Instead use "REINSTALLMODE=voums REINSTALL=ExistingFeature1,ExistingFeature2 ADDLOCAL=NewFeature". This restriczion only applies to Windows Installer runtime version 1.x, for MSI 2.0 this is no longer required.

HTML Upgrading.html   Written by Robert M. Dickau
File size: 12.312 bytes   Last update: 2001-02-22

Patching Tips

Written by Jeffrey Klug
Last update: 2001-01-30

Applying Patch Packages

To apply a patch package to a locally installed software package, you must use the following command line:

msiexec /p patch.msp REINSTALL=ALL REINSTALLMODE=omus

Simply double-clicking the .msp file will only update the cached MSI database, but will have no effect on the already installed features.

You can isolate end users from this complicated command line process by packaging your .msp with PackageForTheWeb (PFTW - included on your InstallShield CD or available as free download). When building the package, on the Delivery Options panel, enter the following command line information (see screen shot):

Note that the Filename must be typed in, it can not be selected from the combo box (because msiecex.exe is not included in your package).

Now end users can simply run the resulting setup.exe (or patch.exe or whatever you want to call it). You could even display a Welcome message that explains which fixes are included in the patch.

Written by Stefan Krueger
Last update: 2000-03-11


Upgrading Windows Installer Based Applications (WebCast)

A 39 minute WebCast given by Mark Lathrope, the Developer Support Product Liaison for the Windows Installer and Visual Studio Installer authoring tools. The WebCast discusses upgrade types, related tables and actions and answers frequently asked questions. It does not talk about patching. The PowerPoint slides and a transcript are also available.

WWW Upgrading Windows Installer Based Applications WebCast

Microsoft Windows Installer Patching (WebCast)

A 32 minute WebCast (also available as PowerPoint presentation) providing an in-depth discussion of the patching technology provided with the Windows Installer. It discusses the ways you can create patches and address some of the known issues that customers may encounter. The presentation is given by Katie Parker, the Windows Installer Product Lead in Developer Support.

WWW Microsoft Windows Installer Patching WebCast



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