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Preparing Applications for Deployment

Updated: March 28, 2003

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Windows Installer is the engine for deploying software packages when you use the software installation extension of Group Policy. It is a core service of the Windows operating system, which enables software administrators to manage the state of software applications. The process of preparing applications involves determining the appropriate packaging method, as indicated in Figure 8.2.

Figure 8.2   Preparing Applications for Deployment

Preparing Applications for Deployment

Windows Installer technology uses the following two components to help you install and manage software:

  • A Windows Installer package (an .msi file), which is a database containing information that describes the installed state of an application. The Windows Installer package performs the installation, modification, and removal of the software.

  • An application programming interface (API) that allows applications and management tools to interact with Windows Installer to install or remove additional features of the application after the initial installation is completed.

The managed state of an application includes installation, modification, upgrade, or removal. Windows Installer provides you with consistent and reliable methods to customize installations, update and upgrade applications, and resolve configuration problems. It can assist you as follows:

  • Helps you manage the state of software during and after installation.

  • Defines a standard format for application setup and tracks components such as groups of files, registry entries, shortcuts, and other aspects of the application that must be managed together.

  • Detects whether software is installed correctly or whether a program file is missing. It can immediately reinstall the damaged or missing files.

  • Repairs applications and ensures that they are installed or removed without overwriting or deleting files that are required by another application.

  • Enables you to modify an installation by adding or removing features after the installation.

  • Enables you to deploy 32-bit and 64-bit Windows applications (Version 2.0).


  • Versions of Windows Installer earlier than version 2.0 can install and manage 32-bit Windows Installer packages only on 32-bit operating systems. Windows Installer version 2.0 supports all of the setup functionality that is available in earlier Windows Installer versions.

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