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September 24, 2010

InstallSite: Microsoft will retire Visual Studio Installer

According to Windows Installer MVP Stefan Krueger of InstallSite:

Retirement of Visual Studio Installer Projects from future versions of Visual Studio

Candy Chiang MSFT Thursday, July 15, 2010 8:07 PM

In Visual Studio 2010, we have partnered with Flexera, makers of InstallShield, to create InstallShield Limited Edition 2010 just for Visual Studio 2010 customers. The InstallShield Limited Edition 2010 offers comparable functionality to the Visual Studio Installer projects. In addition, you can build your deployment projects using Team Foundation Server and MSBuild. For more information, see

With InstallShield available, the Visual Studio Installer project types will not be available in future versions of Visual Studio. To preserve existing customer investments in Visual Studio Installer projects, Microsoft will continue to support the Visual Studio Installer projects feature that shipped with Visual Studio 2010 and below as per our product life-cycle strategy. For more information, see Expanded Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy for Business & Development Products.

All I can say is:  About Time!

Visual Studio Deployment Projects were horrible and contributed to a great many anti patterns including the extensive and inappropriate use of fragile Installer class custom actions.  I can only hope that InstallUtil is next on the chopping block.

That said, InstallShield 2010LE alone will not fill the void 100% so I hope Microsoft also makes good on getting WiX into a future version of Visual Studio.  Until then, if one is clever, there are ways of making WiX merge modules and merging them into InstallShield 2010LE projects to get IS to do things it wasn't designed to do while following MSI best practices at the same time.


Mike said...

Visual Studio Setup and Deployment is the worst deployment tool I've ever used. I'm happy to see it go away and I agree that InstallUtil/Installer class based custom actions should follow.

I just worry that this could be a sign of Microsoft further distancing itself from deployment. IS LE 2010 is far better than VDPROJ but it feels like a business deal to upsell customers for InstallShield more than one made for technical reasons.

There are a lot of devs that "get" deployment at Microsoft. It's MS devs that have given us the WiX toolset and DTF custom actions, etc. I just wish Microsoft would embrace what they have and put some organization and support around it - whether WiX ships with the VS IDE or not a lot could be done from a platform/toolset perspective to promote a good deployment story but the management/leadership at Microsoft can never seem to make it happen. I suspect it's probably like many organizations in the industry where deployment simply isn't viewed as an important/critical piece and so it's not made to be a priority that warrants significant investment.

Christopher Painter said...

I've long blogged that Microsoft should fund WiX. Heck, if they ever got really serious about deployment I just might try to convince my wife that we should pack up and move to Redmond.

Alas, their leadership in this area has been spotty at best for a very long time. Sure, some teams have brough us MSI and WiX but other teams are busy bringing us ClickOnce, MS Deploy, Web Deploy, VDPROJ, InstalLUtil et al rather then improving on the core foundation they already had.

I wish they would just pick a strategy and get all of their developers on board with it.