I found a couple of articles that Heath Stewart wrote a few months ago that I somehow missed at the time that he posted them. His team has been developing a new wrapper setup.exe that will be used for all future Visual Studio and .NET Framework hotfixes and service packs.
I have helped several people who ran into issues with installing hotfixes, particularly for the .NET Framework, and I anticipate that the new patch wrapper will eliminate a lot of the issues I've seen in the past, and it will also make it easier to debug failures in case they still happen. One of the key changes in the new wrapper is that it is written in native code as opposed to managed code. I have always felt that it is inherently fragile to attempt to install or patch managed code using a setup wrapper that is itself attempting to run using managed code. If anything is broken with the .NET Framework itself, you basically see the hotfix setup crash and show a stack trace (as opposed to displaying an actionable error message). This new wrapper should eliminate that nasty error case (though not necessarily the underlying problem that caused the crash to begin with).
If you're interested in more details about the new patch setup wrapper for Visual Studio and the .NET Framework, check out these posts:
- Patch wrapper improvements introductory article - this article includes command line switches that can be used for installing hotfixes and service packs that use this new wrapper
- How logging works in the new patch wrapper - logging will be enabled by default now, which means you do not have to enable verbose logging and reproduce the failure in order to gather setup log files to help debug failures (which is especially painful if you are downloading and installing the patch via Windows Update or Microsoft Update)