Visual Studio App Installer Updated

Many devs still miss the Microsoft-built installer included with Visual Studio 2010 and earlier versions.

Starting with Visual Studio 2012, Microsoft stopped offering its internal Setup project template, instead going with a third-party version from Flexera Software called InstallShield Limited Edition. That particular switch angered a number of .NET developers who relied on Setup to deploy their applications to various platforms.

Despite that, Microsoft stayed with the Flexera solution, which comes free with Visual Studio. Now, InstallShield has been upgraded in response to developer requests. Tony Goodhew, a Microsoft program manager, wrote today on the Visual Studio blog that the top needs were the ability to install 64-bit apps and services, install Windows Services, distribute the Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) runtime, and use relative paths within project files. All those features have been added to InstallShield Limited Edition.

The new version, still in beta, is available for both Visual Studio 2012 and Visual Studio 2013 Preview. Goodhew also noted that some Visual Studio users were having issues with project conversion, "particularly when converting setup projects that included custom actions." He said Microsoft is working with Flexera to diagnose and solve those problems, and asking for feedback on specific related issues.

Another installer that many Windows developers use is the open-source Windows Installer XML (WiX), available on SourceForge. One developer said his solution is to develop in Visual Studio 2012 and keep a copy of Visual Studio 2010 on his development box, just to "generate the setup" from the Setup template included with the older versions.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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