Now that I’ve had a few months to get comfortable with .Net, I realize just how uncomfortable MSI is with .Net. I really wish I could sit down for lunch with some people inside the Microsoft firewall and find out just what the scoop is between the two programs. WindowsInstaller is all about eliminating script and implementing data relationships to be processed by standard actions authored by people at Microsoft who are to be trusted to know what they are doing. .Net seems to be about rolling your own everything via the Installer class.
Take an assembly that contains a C# Service class derived from System.ServiceProcess.ServiceBase. In InstallShield you simply make the assembly a keyfile of a component, set the .Net properties to scan and author the appropriate ServiceControl and ServiceInstall tables. No plumbing, It Just Works!
Take that same assembly and double click on it and you will get an error message telling you that it must first be installed [using installutil.exe]. Find any website that teaches how to create a C# service and you’ll read how to use a ServiceInstaller class to add the service.
The same conflict can be found over and over almost any system installation and configuration topic you can think of.
And of course just TRY telling .Net developers that there is a better way to do it. You’ll quickly find out how much respect they have for the guy that does installations. After all, Setup is just XCOPY, right?? 🙂