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How to: Install Prerequisites in Windows Installer Deployment

Most applications have prerequisites: Components such as the .NET Framework runtime must be available on a target computer in order for the application to run. The deployment tools in Visual Studio include the capability to automatically detect the existence of components during installation and install a predetermined set of prerequisites. This process is referred to as bootstrapping, and the component that performs it is called the generic bootstrapper. The bootstrapper uses bootstrapper packages to install the prerequisite components on the target computer.

NoteNote

   The default location of the bootstrapper packages is stored in the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\GenericBootstrapper\4.0\Path. Changing this path will change the location in which the Prerequisites Dialog Box looks for bootstrapper packages.

For Windows Installer deployment, bootstrapping of the .NET Framework is enabled by default. You can disable bootstrapping for the .NET Framework. However, you should only do so if you are sure that the correct version of the .NET Framework is already installed on all target computers or if your application does not require the .NET Framework.

For localized applications, a .NET Framework Language pack will also be bootstrapped if the Localization property of the deployment project is set to a locale other than "English (United States)."

Additional components should be bootstrapped only if your application has a dependency on them.

By default, bootstrapped components are deployed from the component vendor's Web site. Other alternatives to a component vendor's Web site are as follows:

  • Installing the components from the same location the application is installed from (which could be a file share, a local disk, or a UNC file share).

  • Installing from a specified local path, URL, or file-share location.

    NoteNote

    The following procedures are for Windows Installer deployment. To install prerequisites with a ClickOnce application, see How to: Install Prerequisites with a ClickOnce Application.

    NoteNote

    The dialog boxes and menu commands you see might differ from those described in Help, depending on your active settings or edition. To change your settings, click Import and Export Settings on the Tools menu. For more information, see Working with Settings.

To choose which prerequisites to install

  1. In Solution Explorer, select the deployment project.

  2. On the Project menu, click Properties.

  3. In the Property Pages dialog box, expand the Configuration Properties node, and then select the Build property page.

  4. Click the Prerequisites button.

  5. In the Prerequisites dialog box, make sure that the Create setup program to install prerequisite components box is checked.

  6. In the Choose which prerequisites to install list, select the prerequisites that you want to install, and then click OK.

    NoteNote

    By default, the current version of the .NET Framework is selected as a prerequisite. If the prerequisites for your project include earlier versions of the .NET Framework but not the current version, make sure that you clear the check box for the current version of the .NET Framework in the Prerequisites dialog box and add a .NET Framework Launch Condition that specifies the appropriate .NET Framework version. You can add a launch condition by using the Launch Conditions Editor. For more information, see Launch Conditions Editor and How to: Add Predefined Launch Conditions.

To specify the download location for prerequisites

  1. In Solution Explorer, select the deployment project.

  2. On the Project menu, click Properties.

  3. In the Property Pages dialog box, expand the Configuration Properties node, and then select the Build property page.

  4. Click the Prerequisites button.

  5. In the Prerequisites dialog box, choose a location:

    • If you want to deploy the installers for the prerequisites to a vendor, click Download prerequisites from the component vendor's web site.

    • If you want to deploy the installers for the prerequisites to the same location as your application installer, click Download prerequisites from the same location as my application.

    • If you want to deploy the installers for the prerequisites to a different location, click Download prerequisites from the following location and enter a local path, URL, or file-share location.

      NoteNote

      You must make sure that the installers for the prerequisites have been copied to the specified location with a subfolder for each prerequisite.

      NoteNote

      The Installation URL in the Property Pages dialog box specifies the URL of a server or Web site from which the application and/or prerequisites will be installed. See Build, Configuration Properties, Deployment Project Properties Dialog Box for information about how Windows Installer uses this URL.

  6. Click OK to continue.

To disable bootstrapping

  1. In Solution Explorer, select the deployment project.

  2. On the Project menu, click Properties.

  3. In the Property Pages dialog box, expand the Configuration Properties node, and then select the Build property page.

  4. Click the Prerequisites button.

  5. In the Prerequisites dialog box, clear the Create setup program to install prerequisite components check box, and then click OK.

    NoteNote

    If you disable bootstrapping, the application will still be installed but might not run if the prerequisites are not already installed. For Windows Installer deployment, you can include launch conditions to check for prerequisites and stop installation if the prerequisites are not found. For more information, see Launch Condition Management in Deployment.

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