Our friend and blogger Aaron Stebner asked on behalf of his readers whether the Windows Installer had recommendations for "good, comprehensive training covering" the Windows Installer. This question comes up regularly and I've built up the following stock answer.
Windows Installer depends on our tools vendors to provide a considerable portion of our end to end story. There is an opportunity for the Tools Vendors to differentiate themselves in the market with the degree to which they onboard their users quickly and given them all the information they need to be successful.
Where education value from the tools vendors is not available or incomplete, one can drop down and build expertise in bare metal Windows Installer. One should expect bare metal Windows Installer expertise does take time to build as we are a system technology with a lot of interdependencies with other parts of the system (the nature of being an installer). What we provide is the Windows Installer portion of the Windows Platform Software Development Kit which contains a lot of information on ‘what?’ is in Windows Installer but has very little ‘why?’, ‘when?’, and 'how do I?'.
There is a broad range of resources available in the community for someone to build their expertise. In the Platform SDK, there is a topic “Other Sources of Windows Installer Information” which a long list of links to things like Whitepapers, Newsgroups, Blogs, Web Sites, Tools Vendors, Chat transcripts, and Knowledge Base articles.
If you’re interested in direct hands on help on a particular incident, there are a set of experts in Microsoft Product Support and Services that have deep knowledge of the Windows Installer. They are kind of hard to find so you may have to ask for the Windows Installer support team directly. If you’re in interested in training a group within your company, Microsoft Consulting Services does offer a week long on-site training on the Windows Installer. Mark Lathrope has provided the MCS services in the past.
One of the Windows Installer Most Valuable Professionals, Phil Wilson, has written a book “The Definitive Guide to Windows Installer” that I’ve heard good reviews about. Inside the Windows Installer team, Phil's book is on the list of new hire resources we recommend folks use to ramp up.
Another of the Windows Installer Most Valuable Professionals, Stefan Kruger, runs a web site http://installsite.org which offers training as well a number of other services. As I view Stefan's catalog of classes, most of Stefan's classes are specific to the authoring application that one uses to author packages.
I've noticed that when I give this answer in person, customers have appeared a bit deflated as they were hoping for more from the Windows Installer team itself. For us, it's a tough trade-off as building better training and education competes with building features into the engine that folks would like us to have.
[Author: Robert Flaming]
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