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July 08, 2008

Five Years of Windows Installer and Texas

It just occurred to me that 5 years ago ( yesterday ) was my first day on the Continental Airlines account in Houston, TX. Wow, time flies.

This also marks a second anniversary for me: 5 years of Windows Installer

I'd been writing InstallScript installs since 1997 for various beltway bandits in Northern Virginia but I had intentionally shunned Windows Installer due to my perception that it was slow, buggy, rigid and entirely over engineered. Frankly my installs WERE Bullet Proof and I didn't need Microsoft jumping into the setup space like they had with web browsers, 3D API's and office suits.

I recall doing a PVCS Version Manager deployment and watching how slow it installed on a Pentium 200. The endless repeating of the progress bar was not entirely unlike the scene from Office Space. In the summer of 1999 I had played with InstallShield for Windows Installer beta prior to Windows 2000 being released and I remember being completely unimpressed with Windows Installer.

Anyways, one day Cheryl wanted to move to Texas and before I knew it I was speaking to an IT Director who wanted to repackage his applications into MSI format and deploy them with SMS. Learning MSI suddenly became a priority.

Many, many hours would be spent reading everything that I could on the subject trying to get a firm understanding. A good six months would pass before I started to see light at the end of the tunnel and believe that Windows Installer was actually a better way to roll. A full 18 months of learning, doing and helping would pass before I decided that I was ready to blog on the subject.

As an aside, it's interesting that I was actually originally inspired to blog by Rob Mensching.

After my 6 month contract at Continental turned into 2+ years, we decided that it was time for a change again. ( Seriously, who in the world can work for one company for years and years these days? Developers need cross polination to keep it fresh. ) Before we knew it, we landed in Austin and we really love it here. For anyone who's never been here, it's a really great place to live and work as a .Net/MSI junkie.

1 comment:

MimarSinan said...

Austin's a great town! My alma mater is there. It was fun hanging out with you there, Chris, and next time I visit I'll be sure to ping you again :)