2004 Windows Installer - Share my pain and beware...

On one system I use, the installation of SP0 and incremental upgrading to SP1, SP2 and then SP2.1 (at the various times the packs became
available) were reasonably easy; however, each of the upgrades took far longer than the initial installation.
On another system, the story is quite different and was extremely problematic.
In retrospect, I think the presence of Windows Registry and/or Windows Installer information for the Pre-Release of SolidWorks 2004 was the culprit.
Here's what transpired:
1. I attempted to upgrade from SP0 (installed from the production release CDs) to SP2.1, but repeatedly the process dialog boxes informed me that SP0 was being configured. SP0?! - When the supposed upgrade completed, SolidWorks 2004 was STILL version SP0.
2. To work around this, I decided to use the Control Panel applet to remove SolidWorks 2004 Pre-Release1 and SolidWorks 2004 SP0. (They were both listed, but only one actually existed, since SP0 had been installed over the Pre-Release.)
3. After the program removal, I of course had to reinstall 2004 SP0 - then I was able to apply the "patch" to SP2.1 with the following difficulties:
A. The installation routine wasn't prompting me for the original CD(s), so it was necessary to perform the upgrade via the command line, as suggested by a SolidWorks support bulletin "workaround".
B. As the configuration phase was in progress, it seemed to hang when nearly complete. I was about to kill the process, but then noticed an underlying window's message box telling me that a particular .dll file couldn't be found. When I chose to ignore and then close it, the configuration finished. Why that message couldn't have popped up on TOP is the question.
C. During the installation of the upgrade files, it was often necessary to steer the program to the proper location of source files. It was even necessary to copy two of the .cab files from the SP0 CD (to the directory on my hard drive where the SP2.1 files had been unzipped) in order to continue.
So while it took only about 15 minutes to install a fresh copy of 2004, the upgrade to SP2.1 required roughly 1 1/2 HOURS. What's wrong with this picture?
As the upgrade was "cleaning up" after itself, I noticed a dialog box message saying that previous versions of the program were being removed. Little did I know that my Traditionally installed SolidWorks 2003, SP5.1 was included in the "wiping" process.
I realized 2003 had gone missing when attempting to launch it - only to see the waving flashlight icon searching for the target executable...
O.K., I can see where there might occur a stripping of the common Registry entries that could affect the running of my installation of 2003, but when looking through Windows Explorer, I found to my horror and amazement that the 2003 program files had been completely removed!
So now I have to reinstall SolidWorks 2003. I'll do a traditional install, but will need to "hack" the Registry to temporarily keep the Windows Installer from dominating the process.
SolidWorks Corporation (if you're listening) - What were you thinking when you forced all users to employ the Windows Installer method? Is my experience creating a misconception or is the SP0 to SP2.1 service pack literally programmed to ferret out and destroy all earlier versions - even if they were traditionally installed?
Per O. Hoel
one unhappy camper
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Here is a program from Microsoft give it a try it will fix and erase previous junk from windows installer program.
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=http://support.microsoft.com:80/support/kb/articles/Q238/4/13.ASP&NoWebContent=1

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Rocko,
Thanks for the suggestion; however, as stated in Microsoft's own support document:
"IMPORTANT - This utility is provided "as is" to help resolve installation problems for programs that use the Windows Installer. The use of this utility may make it necessary to reinstall other programs, and caution is advised."
I don't think it's use is worth the potential extra headaches and the utility is NOT compatible with the newer and newest versions of the Windows Installer (such as used by Windows XP).
I use Windows 2000 and even for it the version of MSI.dll needs to be confirmed before running the utility:
"If your version is earlier than 2.0, for example 1.1, the Windows Installer CleanUp Tool is supported on your system."
The MSI.dll file (current on my Windows 2000 system)is 2.0.2600.1183, so I couldn't use the utility even if I wanted to...
I think everyone should be careful with the utility so as NOT to make installation environments go from bad to worse.
Per O. Hoel ___________________________________________________________________________

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Hello Per,
If this is what the install is like, then one can only wonder how the rest of this program is created and maintained.
Kind Regards,
Gary <SolidWorks 2004 Un-Installer Re-Installer Extraordinaire> Wolfe
(got to be an appropriate multi-letter acronym in there somewhere)

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Gary,
I think the rest of the program is far better created and maintained.
In my opinion, the Windows Installer (a Microsoft product) is not capable of handling the reconfiguration of a program such as the relatively complex SolidWorks.
All I really need to understand is how the WI method for SolidWorks can really be considered superior to the Traditional method which should STILL be available to users as an option (ideally as the default).
In reinstalling SolidWorks 2003 (out of necessity, as reported earlier), I was reminded of how fast, smooth and problem-free the Traditional method is. The ENTIRE process of installation and then service pack updating from SP0 to SP5.1 took in the neighborhood of ONLY 10 minutes!
That leaves valuable time to actually get some productive work done instead of blowing half a day attempting to work around the limitations of the Windows Installer...
SolidWorks Corporation needs to work with Microsoft to either improve the capabilities, speed and reliability of the Windows Installer or to revert to a robust alternative!
Per O. Hoel
___________________________________________________________________________

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Per O. Hoel wrote:

<sarcasm> I thought that was obvious. SW outlines all the advantqages right on their web site:
======================There are many benefits to using WI for installing SolidWorks:
* Ability to rollback after installing web-based Service Packs * Automatic repair of corrupt or damaged installations * Installation can be modified without a complete reinstallation * Microsoft Office install look and feel * Automated (silent) install via command line ======================</sarcasm>
Jim S.
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Per,
Solidworks is an early adopter of everything Microsoft, hence the Windows Installer. I would think that the 'ease of use' mantra would include being able to update or un-update the software easily as well. My personal opinion is that the Windows Installer can be made to work correctly; all it takes is more programming care and craftsmanship. I share your pain and yearn for program stability, true ease of use (install/maintain included), and better speed.
Gary

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We recently upgraded three seats. We didn't have the same problems that you did, but it was certainly not a straight forward process and certainly was a long one. We didn't have any pre-release versions of SW2004. We all have SW2001+ installed as well.
Jerry Steiger Tripod Data Systems
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