Windows Installer (MSI) technology supports creating differential update patches. Many MSI authoring tools help you to populate the required tables, but you can also create patches using the tools from Microsoft's Windows Installer SDK.
Microsoft SDK documentation
RTPatch - a commercial product from Pocket Soft, Inc. - supports Windows Installer based setups as well as non-Windows Installer-based patching.
Pocket Soft, Inc.
Note: some setup authoring tools already include an update notification tool, or have an interface to a tool from the same manufacturer.
FlexNet Connect keeps vendors connected to users by electronically delivering
applications, updates, and messages directly to their systems.
It can also provide usage statistics to improve software development and
FlexNet Connect is a commercial product from Flexera Software, the makers of InstallShield and AdminStudio.
FlexNet Connect was formerly called InstallShield Update Service, which was the replacement for InstallShield's WebUpdate product.
Order FlexNet Connect in the InstallSite Shop
Trial account available.
Manufacturer: Flexera Software (USA). Previous company names include Acresso
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WiX (Windows Installer XML toolset) is an open source project for an MSI authoring tool. Part of the project is ClickThrough, a set of add-on tools, including a tool to automatically detect available updates (via an RSS feed), notify users and install the update.
WiX ClickThrough Project
The methods described in the following paragraph are not compatible with Windows Installer (MSI). If your application is installed using MSI then you should create your update as a Windows Installer patch (.msp) and use an update notification tool to send it to your customers.
Anthony Glenwright has written an article that describes the built-in deployment capabilities of the .NET framework - and its shortcomings for rich client applications, and presents a class library that gives you the ability to add automatic upgrade capabilities to your .NET Windows forms applications. The code for the AutoUpgrade Class Framework is available for download from the article.Read the article at DevX.com
Both the .NET Framework and Windows have some very interesting APIs for
creating applications that are capable of updating themselves automatically over
a network. There are many advantages to writing your application to update
itself like Windows Update does, including convenience for your users, from
easier maintenance to network administration. Automatic updates require
attention to factors such as discovery, security, and file replacement. In this
article, the author, Jason Clark, covers the BITS API as well as a number of
features of the .NET Framework that take care of these facets of auto-updating
using the same facilities that the Windows Update uses.
Article and sample code published in MSDN Magazin, February 2003.
Read the article at MSDN Magazin
There are various tools to set the "last modified" date and time of a file. Many are shareware or freeware. The following links to Programmers Heaven list several downloadable utilities:
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