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John R.

Windows installer: best practices ?

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I'm in the process of modernizing my application's installation procedure and I'm wondering if there is any official and up-to-date documentation about best practices for installers on recent versions of Windows ?

For example, it looks like "My Documents" should never be used to place sample per-user data (as it is sometimes disabled by system administrators) but replaced by "AppData\Roaming". But do I still need administrator's privileges to install the application in "Program Files" or is it not considered best practice anymore ?

I admit that I created the installer a long time ago (Windows XP era) and didn't proceed to any major update since then.

Any recommendation would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards,


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This is indeed a good question, however I believe it to be a mine field. Especially if you want to be able to deploy your software over all Windows versions that are currently in use. It is kind of a waste of time to find out and implement best practices for installers, when you are actually developing something else, say an MP3 player. Don't forget that, ideally, every customer/user will have to use this setup only once, and your software many times, so where should your time really be invested?

I use Inno Script, and I am very happy with it.

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Thank you for your input @Sherlock

I'm successfully using InnoSetup too. I wouldn't update this installer if it wasn't for bug reports mentioning an error during installation saying that the "My Documents" folder doesn't exist. I learned that administrators can disable this folder.

As I obviously need to spend some time on the installer to fix this problem, I'm simply wondering if there is any best practice document from Microsoft somewhere that I haven't found yet.

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I love InnoSetup too, great tool, but it would also make sense to have a Wix-compatible installer.
So far, from my last research a while ago, this was not possible to easily integrate with Inno or Nullsoft, only by M$-Tools.
My hope would be to have a simple option so that Inno can generating Wix-compatible installers too.

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