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Monday, September 8, 2008

Fact Check: InstallAware First and Only to Support SQL Server 2008 and .NET 3.5 Service Pack 1

I received the following boasting claim via email today:

InstallAware 8 is the first and only installation toolkit to support Microsoft's newest technologies released with Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 - Microsoft SQL Server Express 2008, .NET Framework 3.5 with Service Pack 1, and Visual Studio 2008 MFC Runtime with Service Pack 1. We're making this support available in just two weeks after Microsoft released Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 to manufacturing, preserving our tradition of always being[sic] all other vendors to it, including InstallShield!

I found InstallAware's statement very interesting because I've just finished a sprint where I delivered 10 installs in 2 weeks. Each of these installs are components of an SOA based system heavily relying on .NET 3.5 SP1 and SQL Server 2008. It's a brand new product line for our company written by a team that's dedicated to being on the cutting edge of Microsoft technologies.

But how could I have possibly done this work if InstallAware is just now the first vendor ( including InstallShield!! ) to support these technologies?

Easily, I used InstallShield.

As I previously posted, InstallShield has a flexible feature called Prerequisites that allow you to define how to detect and install a component via setup.exe. This is similar to what the WiX team is trying to achieve with burn only InstallShield has had it for years. ( As an aside, burn looks promising, but since it was dropped from WiX release 3.0 due to rosario ship considerations don't expect it to be released for quite a long time to come. ) Using the prerequisite editor, it's a simple 5 minute job to include .NET 3.5 SP1 and the latest MFC runtime ( which we don't use thankfully ) in your install.

Additionally InstallShield's SQL scripts pattern continues to work very well with SQL Server 2008. True, there isn't a dedicated setting that says "Support SQL 2008" but there is a customize checkbox that is far more powerful:

As I've previously posted, don't believe everything you read on the internet.


  1. There is a difference between differentiating yourself from your competitors and constantly comparing yourself to your competitors. InstallAware is seemingly still trying to find their own identity and find ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

    In doing so, they make themselves look petty, not cutting edge. I know Sinan probably has a Google alert for anything InstallAware, so if you want some advice, fire your Marketing VP. He is not working out. I get that a lot of you are former InstallShield employees and feel some need to constantly tell the world why you are not InstallShield.

    How about you define yourselves by your principles, customer service, and product quality? If you can successfully do so, people will forget about InstallShield. By constantly comparing yourselves to them, you are like the kids on the playground that always wanted to prove why you were better than the popular kid.

    Be InstallAware, not that "other company that is better than InstallShield because they said so".

  2. Chris,

    You're totally missing the point. InstallAware is the only installer to have *built-in* support. This is what our customers ask us and thank us for.

    You can also create your custom runtimes in InstallAware. In fact, do so with a whole lot more control over the process thanks to our powerful MSIcode script which as you conceded earlier works as a great bootstrapper...

    Regardless, this kind of comparison between the two products is nonsense, as both products have "infinite 0-day support" for all present and future runtimes via the custom route.


  3. Also, as for SQL Server, not only does InstallAware check for a named instance and install 2008 if not found, it also lets you choose a lot of server settings visually for setup - sure beats manually crafting command lines through trial and error.

    Please check your own facts and leave your InstallAware bias aside before accusing us of making false claims next time. It's getting old and I know for a fact you've once never installed InstallAware on your box.

  4. Sinan-

    I believe you just made my point.

    If it's pointless to make this type of comparison because both tools provide extensibility, then why publish a news release touting that InstallAware "pioneers this support ahead of all other competitors, including InstallShield."

    Why say that I've missed the point that your's is built-in and InstallShields isn't.

    Creating custom setup prerequistes is not trial and error. It's a simple setup development task that only takes a handful of metadata to describe and implement.

    I also believe you just stipulated that InstallAware is laiden with spyware.

    However, your conclusion is incorrect. I know I've had trial editions of both InstallAware and WiXAware installed and I like the potential that WiXAware has. If it had better workflows, less bugs and supported WiX v3.0 I'd gladly part with my own money and buy a copy today.

  5. BTW it seems that InstallShield now has official support:

  6. Chris, I really don't follow from where you draw the spyware inference?

    And no, it was not trivial for InstallAware to produce the runtimes - especially since we allow granular installation of .NET 2 SP2 and/or .NET 3 SP2 alone, without the .NET 3.5 SP1 sitting on top. That was a major engineering challenge and I dare you to create custom runtimes with InstallShield that can do the same!

    Like I said, its obvious you never even once took a look at our slick .NET 3.5 runtime implementation. Otherwise you'd have seen not only the compression savings (which you did last time apparently), but also the new granular support which no other tool has at this time.

    Its even more unfortunate, that you now make claims that InstallAware is spyware ridden...what did we do to deserve this kind of accusation???

    I don't understand how InstallAware draws so much blood from the InstallShield camp. We've got to be doing *something* right!

  7. I didn't intend for this to get perosnal. You said

    "I know for a fact you've once never installed InstallAware on your box."

    Since you were so firm in this statement I took it to mean that you have automation in place to base this claim on. Aka spyware.

    I can't speak to how your business is performing or what your customer motivations are so I really don't have anything to say about that. Personally I'm all for a healthy ecosystem and I've told you that I like your bootstrapper and I could see using it with WiXAware.

  8. Sinan obviously didn't read my comment. He continues to exemplify what I was originally talking about.

  9. Chris, I know you never once installed InstallAware 8 because then you'd have seen our elegant, modularized (the ONLY modularized) .NET 3.5 (SP1) install. And that would have been something worth writing about. Still not too late?

    I don't need spyware for that and its quite an unjustified leap you make - to say the least. Thanks, I guess, for not making it personal. I can only wonder what it would have been like if you had made it personal!

    Aaron, I of course read your comment. We've done a lot of work on InstallAware's identity - "Windows Installer without Rocket Science" - so your assertion, just like Chris's, is more demonstrative of your lack of awareness of InstallAware (pun intended) rather than statement of fact.

    Ironic, given the title of the post! Indeed, do not believe everything you read on the Internet.

  10. Sinan,
    You are missing the point. As a potential customer, my perception is what matters. For you to discount it shows me what InstallAware is really all about.

    Every communication I have ever had with your company has been a negative experience. You might have a great product, but you are not helping yourselves with your denigrating attitudes.

  11. This entire thread is thoroughly amusing!

  12. This cattiness reminds me of the chief exec of one of the many 'installer product' companies out there in the nineties who would do exactly the same whenever their largest rival came out with a good product. "We also have it, you know, AND we do it better" or something similar.

    Let's just say that such attitude only makes you look bad, just like Aaron points out.

  13. Interesting conversation. Sinan Karaca's arrogance is indicative of the corporate culture at InstallAware, as I found out today. Their arrogance is only overcome by their disrespect for potential customers. Needless to say, we terminated our evaluation of InstallAware and will be moving on to IntallShield a bit early.

  14. While InstallAware overall has many nice features, their customer support has impossible to deal with over the past year

    See below for several issues we have had over the past year.

    1) The tool will crash (all active users!!)if you have a floating license and anoterh user comes online which exceeds the number of licenses. They [customer support] seems to think this is a feature. Seems like a warning to the unallocated user would be the correct response rather than crashing every user on the system.

    2) Any message that even vaguely alludes to a known chronic problem is immediately removed from the support site.

    Guess this follows the strategy of treating your customer like mushrooms; keep them in the dark and feed them ....

    3) We sent a help request to get support via the forum during which we accidentally created the help ticket twice for which we received a nice response.

    "Do not open multiple tickets on the same issue. Otherwise you will be banned. This is your ONLY warning.

    We replied that creating the two tickets were not intentional and we did not appreciate the abrupt response and got this gem in reply.

    "That's it; you're banned. Go bother some other install support organization."

    Very professional! Seriously do you guys even care?

    See below for a typical customer feedback from other users regarding your support group

    "InstallAware really has some major problems. My employee ran into a performance problem and asked a serious question about this on the InstallAware forum and you know what? They removed the message and then banned my employee. The next day I asked the same question and they also banned me."

    This information was provided to the folks at Install Aware so far no response.

    We all understand that all tools have issues and limitations and frankly the role of support is to help the end user to work through these issues to insure a successful long term relationship.

    "the disappointment of poor service last long after the satisfaction of low price has been forgotten"

  15. I miss the good old days...."copy this exe and run it?" There's still some folks out there that don't install things, but it's few and far between for many good and bad reasons. Although I can always think of a way around the good ones I come up with, I'm sure there's at least one I'm missing that doesn't. So really it's "for at least one good and many bad reasons.".