On the short list of Microsoft Watch’s "Microsoft Bloggers".

Speaking of Mary Jo Foley, last week I had a conversation with Dare Obasanjo about RSS Bandit's setup (yet another thing I need to blog about). At the end of our conversation he asked me, "Did you know you were on Mary Jo's list of bloggers to watch?" I had no idea what Dare was talking about so he opened up a browser to Microsoft Watch's Microsoft Bloggers web page. As of this posting, my name is sandwiched there between Dare and Jensen Harris.

But I don't know why.

I write about setup (and not enough of that lately), the WiX toolset (obviously), and Open Source (but from the comments I get, most people don't care about that part... so I do it because I think it's interesting). But who cares about those topics? Sure, setup developers might care about my blog (especially if I'd talk more about setup right now) but others?

So, Mary Jo, how/why did you decide to put my blog on that list? I'm really quite curious.

Also, for those of you that follow my blog regularly, I'm curious why do you stay subscribed? Feel free to leave a comment/trackback below or send it to me privately. Your feedback will shape how things continue from here.

PS: I've followed Mary Jo's reporting ever since she was the reporter that broke the WiX toolset released as Open Source story. That was an exciting time and I always felt like her report was a part of the experience. Before her story I never bothered to see who was writing the news I was reading. Also, Microsoft urban legend has it that Mary Jo Foley used to ride the shuttles around Microsoft campus listening for gossip. I was impressed. How can you not respect a reporter that is crafty enough to think of that?

Comments (8)

  1. Rich says:

    Well, I’m intrigued by the OSS aspect of it, really.  However, we also use WiX (in an ant script to create an MSI for a NetBeans RCP java desktop app!)

  2. RonO says:


    I follow your blog for all three reasons you blog.  Though I would rank my interest in your topics in the opposite order you list them.  As I’m an interested observer of Open Source/Free Software (I think everyone is best served by healthy competion, but that’s not my only reason), I try to gather opinions from many different perspectives on the topic.  I won’t say I’ve agreed with all your thoughts, but it was interesting to read them regardless.

    I am following WiX because I think it serves as good competion to the "professional" installation packages.  Ultimately, the best solution should win, but a community-driven project to help create Windows installations is of great benefit to small scale development teams.

    I’m interested in setup as it relates to the continued development of WiX, but not so much as a stand-alone topic.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with the community.  In my opinion, your past posts are reason enough for Mary Jo to include you in the list of Microsoft bloggers.  I hope you continue to provide valuable insight through your blog.

  3. Christian says:

    I read this blog mainly to leran more about MSI and Windows Installer.

    Especially history, rationale and how to deal with MSI files is interessting.

  4. Paul says:

    I stay subscribed (through bloglines) as I’m a corporate application repackager (Installshield/Wise MSI stuff) so your comments on Installers directly relates to my job.

    That and you don’t waffle on about pointless stuff 🙂

  5. Leon Zandman says:

    I’m following your blog, because I use WiX for my installers and your blogs contain useful hints and insights into WiX and MSI in general. And I like your writing style.

  6. Rob,

    I started reading your blog for the same reason I subscribed to many other Microsoft blogs, because I was fascinated by the idea of hearing about the technologies I work with day in and day out from their own implementers, "the horse’s mouth" if you will.

    I was particularly avid for this kind of information on Windows Installer, since for me it has been one of the most (in no particular order) promising, obscure, and inevitable technologies on the platform. I desperately wanted to know who were the people behind the unfortunate disaster that was the launch of this technology. I say disaster because no developer outside of Microsoft (and even there, obviously the Visual Studio Installer team did not pay much attention) ever understood all the subtleties that were required to build a properly-behaving MSI package. Not even the setup-builder vendors, for whom the exceedingly unfriendly SDK was exclusively intended as far as I understand. The result, as I remember it, was immense user frustration at perpetually self-repairing programs, and massive developer shunning of the technology in favor of ad-hoc solutions or less integrated, non-transactional products such as NSIS & consorts.

    I would very much like to read your own opinion on these subjects (Is MSI too hard to understand ? Is it too easy to break ? How bad is it for the platform to still have competing technologies ?). Another interesting topic would be your take on the setup technologies that exist on other platforms. For example, the most popular setup tools on Linux-based platforms, rpm and dpkg, both have strong dependency management, which is an area that has never to my knowledge been approached by Windows Installer. Another example is package listing and downloading – apt-get is an amazing tool, why could not something similar exist for on-demand download of Windows components ?

    In any case, thank you for the good information you’ve provided so far, and thanks for WiX of course !



  7. Leon Zandman says:

    Jonathan, I totally agree with some of the things you say. I think Windows Installer has a very steep learning curve and I’m still amazed at the fact that almost every MSI I run into, even the official Microsoft ones, doesn’t pass ICE validation or has other implementation errors. Rob, I would be very interested in your opinion about these matters!

  8. Sean Kerner says:

    I read your blog because i don’t ride the shuttles around Redmond.

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