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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Vista Server Logo Requirements Revisited

Recently I was watching a video on Channel 9 called Application Compatibility - MSI Installer ( re: Vista / Server 2008 ) where Robert Flaming of the Windows Installer team made a brief opening comment that the windows server logo has a requirement for MSI for the first time.

Now I'm sure Robert didn't think this opening remark would attract so much attention because it really isn't the focus of the video. Still it jumped out at me since back in September I blogged about a friend sent me an email detailing that MSI was dropped as a requirement for the Vista Server Logo program. I was really curious to find out if Robert had simply misspoken or if my information was wrong our out dated.

Recently Robert communicated via the Windows Installer team blog:

In recent multi-blog conversations between Windows Installer experts Aaron Stebner, Christopher Painter, and Stefan Krueger, it was noted that my statement that 'Windows Server 2008 logo would require Windows Installer' in the Channel 9 video Application Compatibility - MSI Installer Issues was out of sync with the published requirements.

Sure enough, the Windows Server 2008 Logo team demoted this from a requirement to a recommendation. Unfortunately the Windows Server 2008 Logo didn't let me know they had decided to do this.

Robert also went on to accept responsibility but I feel this is completely unneeded as it isn't his fault that a requirements change wasn't communicated back to him. Regardless, the question is now answered and I'm very grateful to Robert for doing so. More importantly though he gives very good perspective into the `why` so I highly encourage you to read the blog.

I only have two additional comments related to the `why`. First is I've seen many times in my career that developers/managers grasping at straws to put together a installation requirements or design document together will reference the logo requirement by proxy. From Roberts comments the logo program is a marketing program not a standard program so this association may be incorrect. Still it's sometimes difficult to put installation requirements to paper so I doubt that this practice will end.

The second comment is somewhat a question: For those of you in IT organizations, what attitudes do you see towards server care and feeding versus workstation care and feeding?

The reality is, from perspectives, a server is just a glorified workstation. You would think that MSI would automatically be good for both. In my current role at an ISV I have adopted MSI for my server installs as well as my client installs.

However, I remember at Continental Airlines that many people were very skeptical of automating server side deployment. Sure there were a few visionaries like the Sr. Director of Technology that I worked for who wanted to be able to use a graphical designer tool to cause the provisioning and configuration of a brand new blade through tools like ADS, DSI, GPO, AD, SMS and MSI. But many people who otherwise adjusted well to client side automation would get very defensive when you started talking about changing server side processes. If you suggested replacing an old, incomplete, outdated manual process with a zero touch automated process they would be practically afraid to death of the change. If you suggested using GPO, SMS or WSUS to manage these servers they would freak! I don't know if it was inexperience or just protectionism, but the moment you started mentioning production servers everything had to be done by hand.

So perhaps the server community isn't really ready for MSI yet anyways. What does your experience tell you?


  1. Good to learn that the Certification Tool is handy.

    The requirements around file signatures, manifests and driver signing are of huge benefits to Customers, particularly with the Server OS moving towards a 64-bit only platform.

    Also note that the Server Logo team at Microsoft acknowledges that third party binaries included in ISVs products may not comply with some requirements and hence have granted limited waivers to ISVs, only requiring them to document such binaries.

    That said, some of the remarks made in this blog are not accurate.

    For example the Server Logo team did not change rules midstream. Also the latest test framework document released on 1/8/08 is merely an updated document with better worded tests that include additional notes/clarifications. There were no changes made to the requirements or tests themselves.

    If you found the Certification Tool useful, you may also find the Works with tool and the System State Analyzer handy.
    Download from here:

  2. The comment about the requirement being dropped was from the Windows Installer Team, I merely quoted it. Interestingly though, that blog is no longer available on their website.