Introduction to Microsoft Windows Installer
Microsoft Windows Installer is an installation and configuration service that ships as a part of Windows 2000, Windows Me, and Windows XP. It is also available for Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT 4.0.
Windows Installer is based on a data-driven model that provides all installation data and instructions in a single package. In contrast, traditional scripted setup programs were based on a procedural model, providing scripted instructions for application installations. Scripted setup programs focused on how to install something; Windows Installer focuses on what to install.
With Windows Installer, each computer keeps a database of information about every application that it installs, including files, registry keys, and components. When an application is uninstalled, the database is checked to make sure that no other applications rely on a file, registry key, or component before removing it. This prevents the removal of one application from breaking another.
Windows Installer also supports self-repair — the ability for an application to automatically reinstall missing files that may have inadvertently been deleted by the user.
In addition, Windows Installer provides the ability to roll back an installation. For example, if an application relies on a specific database and the database is not found during installation, installation can be aborted and the computer returned to its preinstallation state.
The deployment tools in Visual Studio .NET build on the foundation of Windows Installer, providing you with rich capabilities for rapidly deploying and maintaining applications built with Visual Studio .NET.
Windows Installer | Deploying Applications and Components