Role-based Guide to Windows Installer Documentation

Windows Installer is the recommended solution for the installation and setup of applications on Windows. Therefore, some of the information contained in this SDK will be of interest to a wide range of software development and IT professionals. This section is provided as a guide to readers who prefer to see links to topics organized by professional role and common task scenarios. Because roles can differ greatly between organizations, the following grouping should only be considered as a guide to a location to start searching for the information you need.

This documentation is intended for software developers who want to make applications that use Windows Installer. As the primary source of reference material for the installer, the SDK provides information about installation packages and the installer service. It contains complete descriptions of the application programming interface (API) and the elements of the installer database.

For more information, see Other Sources of Windows Installer Information.

Application Developers

Application developers create applications that call the Windows Installer application programming interface and install Windows installer packages at run time. The Windows Installer can do work in an application such as self-repair and installation-on-demand. Typically, application Developers do the following:

Setup Authors

Setup Authors create Windows Installer packages (.msi files) that contain the setup logic and information needed to install an application. They typically use authoring tools such as Orca.exe to populate the Windows Installer database with the setup logic and information. Typically, Setup Authors do the following:

IT Professionals

IT Professionals and Administrators customize and deploy existing Windows Installer packages. These users repackage setups for existing applications into Windows Installer installation packages, and install and maintain administrative images of Windows Installer installations on networks.

Infrastructure Developers

Infrastructure Developers can create unified platforms for the deployment and management of software that uses the Windows Installer service. They can use the Windows Installer programming interface to query, manage, and distribute applications, patches, and sources on a system.