ISWIX, LLC View Christopher Painter's profile on LinkedIn profile for Christopher Painter at Stack Overflow, Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers

December 13, 2006

All's Fair in Marketing and Ignorance is Bliss

Recently the setup blogosphere has been red hot with debate regarding InstallAware and their release of WiXAware. It started when Rob Mensching blogged about a comment made by a representative of InstallAware:

Also, during the discussion the other InstallAware representative said something that reinforced my negative impression of InstallAware. It came up that there was some rather notorious compatibility issue in Vista that was believed to be caused by InstallAware. It turned out to be a non-issue but before we knew that the InstallAware representative was happy to have a notorious bug associated with his product. He said something to the effect of, "All publicity is good publicity because after a few months people forget what you did wrong and only remember your name." That comment felt really sleazy and unprofessional.

I was shocked when I first read this. First I was surprised to see such a strong opinion posted, and second I was surprised to see it regarding someone that was met in a work environment. I generally try to never mix work with my blog and I try not to mention names when I mention things that I don't agree with. However, I suppose part of the appeal of blogs is the voyeurism that is involved. Especially that of the inner workings of Redmond.

Then someone made this anonymous comment on my blog:

Hmm, the website looks like a copycat of Advanced
Installer's website ( That one's been around for
years so I am pretty sure "Aware" is doing the stealing.I wonder if the product
is a fraud as well...

I'm not a big fan of anonymous posting, but still the comment was very valid. It also got noticed by Stefan and Rob and resulted in Stefan making a very bold yet accurate blog titled Oops: they did it again where he called InstallAware onto the carpet. This resulted in an all out comment war ( another rule violation, I try to never reply to a thread more then twice ) where an InstallAware employee named Michael Nesmith made this comment:

A lot of our customers are initially turned off by scripting, because they have had bad experiences with InstallShield's scripting environment. InstallShield installs its scripting runtime before beginning a setup...we don't. InstallShield scripting fails if COM is damaged in any way on the target computer...ours works. In fact, our scripting doesn't install anything at all, and runs on Windows 95 Gold. Usually most our customer concerns are centered around these issues, so please let us know if you had any other reasons as to why scripting is bad.

Now, if you've been following my blog you know that the InstallScript problems were solved this past summer with InstallShield 12.

So alas we get to the point of this blog: All's Fair In Marketing.

IMHO it seems that InstallAware wants to build a business model off of hating InstallShield. They want to point at every bug found in InstallShield and continue to claim that the bugs still exist long after they are gone. It's take no prisoners and give no quarter because the evil empire that dominates the setup industry must be stopped.

But wait, wasn't it InstallAware that made the comment to Rob:

"All publicity is good publicity because after a few months people forget
what you did wrong and only remember your name."

Oh I see how it works. It's OK for InstallAware to throw stones at InstallShield but let's ignore the fact that InstallAware lives in a glass house. We are expected to forget about their mistakes. Furthermore InstallAware feels that us bloggers are expected to evangelize InstallAware's products as an effort to support the setup community. I don't know about Stefan, but I havn't seen a check ( nor would I accept one ) from InstallAware so I have no such duty.

Either way is any of this really a surprise? After all, InstallAware was founded by ex-InstallShield employees so should we really expect the apple to fall far from the tree?

I've been waiting for a viable WiX editor to give serious consideration to since I like to keep my options open. In fact I gave the beta version a fairly positive review and exchanged several emails with InstallAware reporting various bugs that I found. Unfortunately I'm not sure I can keep company with InstallAware and live with myself. Therefore I will no longer be covering WiXAware on this blog until their business behavior convinces me that they can make a viable vendor to partner with.


Michael Nesmith has since defended his statements:

I work at InstallAware support - it is not my job to keep up to date on what
competing products are doing (that is maybe marketing or product development). I
am simply reporting what users are telling me about their InstallShield
experience before moving to InstallAware. Is it a crime to point out the
deficiencies of InstallShield? Perhaps you can reply in detail which part of my
knowledge is out of date, so all our readers can find out how InstallShield has
solved the COM dependency, engine pre-install, and minimum Windows version

I guess ignorance is bliss at InstallAware. I've already explained all of this in great detail nearly 6 months ago. In case you missed it you can read it at:

August 2006 DevLetter

InstallShield Beta2

New InstallScript design for MSI custom actions


Anonymous said...


Some brief comments:

1) By your own admission, 11+ versions of InstallShield were afflicted with these issues.

2) These issues were reported to me by users expressing their joy and happiness in having found InstallAware.

3) I simply made those reports public. This seemed to bother you to no end. You fired back with hostility and personal attacks.

4) In the URLs that you have provided, it explicitly says the v12 changes in InstallShield break "some types" of older projects, further enforcing my original reports.

5) The URLs you provided say nothing of COM dependencies and whether they have been resolved.

So I have raised valid issues, to which you have not responded in their entirety, instead shifting your tone to an attack on my person and InstallAware.

We're just trying to educate the public about how InstallAware can save them money, time, and effort. When we said that we are the first and only vendor to support .NET 3, you fired back with:

"I hope everyone see's through these claims since InstallShield has setup prerequisites that enable the user to author their own prereqs without waiting on a vendor to do it."

So here, you are complaining that InstallAware released this update, free of charge (unlike InstallShield), in only 48 hours (unlike InstallShield), and that this is bad, because setup authors can author this stuff on their own (mind you, they can author their own with InstallAware as well). When customers pay for installers to have these conveniences on-schedule and free of charge, do you really expect your arguments make sense?

About our MSIcode scripting, you attacked us again: "To create a new scripting language to describe the underlying MSI patterns seems like the most crazy thing in the world to me and I can see why InstallShield wouldn't be doing it." Which is strange, because ultimately WiX does the same thing, and you seem quite in love with it. And of course nothing to say of InstallShield's scripting which you so heartily praise, strange for a script hater.

In your blog you say you would never accept a check from InstallAware. Perhaps you have already accepted a check from InstallShield? This is from their latest DevLetter: "Tip: Author a Custom ICE using InstallShield 12" This exclusive article by Christopher Painter..."

All this one-sided bashing leaves no other explanation, sorry. Its "ignorance" and "marketing unfairness" to write about what InstallShield has done and continues to do wrong...its "enlightened" and "fair" to bash InstallAware with strawman arguments instead.


Christopher Painter said...

1) I completly agree that the old DCOM/ROT was flawed. I've told InstallShield as much.

4) You don't have the foggiest idea of what I meant by `break` some projects. I was referring to the interface and scope changes that require using MsiGetProperty() and CustomActionData. This is actually a very GOOD break and not something for you to twist into something bad.

5) I said that DCOM/ROT was "history" and that the interface was pure Type 1 ( standard call Win32 ). Maybe you just don't understand these technologies?

And for the record, I'm not `on the take`. I have not received any compensation or special treatment by anyone for my community involvement. I write articles for the benefit of the community and no one else. My opnions are derived from years of experience and are not for sale to any vendor.

It is not wrong to write about what InstallShield has done wrong in the past. It is wrong to claim that they continue to do so despite all of the evidence to the contrary.

Now I don't typically moderate comments on this blog but in your case I will. Find your own forum to push your agenda because frankly I'm tired of dealing with a misinformed tier-i support person from a company with questionable ethics who gets his information from even more clueless customers who call in needing help and placing blame for all their problems in all the wrong places.

To quote an old saying, `consider the source`.