Application packaging bundles applications and operating systems into a single file called a distribution unit (.msi), which makes it easier to deploy and install them on user’s computers. Packaging reduces the total cost of ownership for the customers by enabling them to efficiently install and configure the applications. This results in an application package, which provides the product with new capabilities like advertise features without installing them, installs products on demand, add user customizations etc.
Advantages of Packaging(creating MSI packages)
- Customize Applications to suit the user needs.
- Simplify the Installation and Un-installation Procedures.
- Saves Time in both Installation and Un-installation.
- Once packaged, applications can be quickly installed on a range of desktops in multiple locations, saving administrative costs, simplifying the manage of licensing fees and minimizing support and repair expenditures.
- Saves Space of the product by doing apt modifications to applications.
- Has a great flexibility of obtaining the lost files through a phenomenon called Self Heal, this reduces the down time of application. If a critical file (a .DLL or .EXE file, for example) that is part of the distribution is corrupt or is deleted, the user can be prompted to repair the installation by presenting the original .MSI distribution. Additionally, if the installation media is available (for example, on a network share), the repair simply happens automatically.
- Can be advertised. So that on demand installation could take place.
- Upgrading of the application can be done with ease.
- Clean installation and Un-Installation is achieved by a process called Roll-Back.
- Simplifies management of new user set-up along with the revision and distribution of software repairs and new applications to existing users. Application recovery can also be improved.
- Helps eliminate uncontrolled software downloads and installation, enables applications to be safely removed and reduces non-business traffic on a corporate network.
- Using .MSI format, can automate software distribution process and ensure that the installation doesn’t break other applications that have already been installed.
- Application is installed via an OS service.
- State management is maintained. In the past, it’s been difficult to know whether an application is installed on a machine. You would have to query for a .DLL with a specific version number or determine whether an .EXE file with a specific name was present. Windows Installer provides an application programming interface (API) that lets programmers and administrators see whether a specific application is installed on a machine.
- Scriptable API. This whips together a VBScript to help us with the MSI file manipulations. The API to manipulate MSI files is so powerful that it can create, validate and update packages, trigger installs and uninstalls, examine the MSI repository data on computers, and perform some custom actions.
- Served installs. Because MSI files can be housed in a share point and delivered via a server, we can keep our installation files all in one place or move them around — closer to the users if necessary.
Hope this article helps the people who keep their first steps in packaging… 🙂