XCOPY deployment works well for many web sites. However, there are some situations where it falls short. For example, XCOPY does not automate the installation of assemblies into the GAC, nor does it make Registry edits. Further, if you need to install to multiple servers, such as a web farm, or have a precisely scripted and repeatable installation process, then XCOPY may get tedious and error-prone. For all of these scenarios, you need an installation tool with more robust capabilities. There are several third-party installation tools available, such as InstallShield, InstallAnywhere, and ActiveInstall.
Windows has its own installation technology, known as Windows Installer, which has been included with all the Windows operating systems starting with Windows 2000.
Windows Installer provides installation, removal, and management of applications. It also supports features such as automatic repair of existing installations, transactional operations (a set of operations performed by the installer can all be undone if installation does not complete successfully), installation on demand (application features are not installed until the first time a user tries to use that feature), and installation in locked-down environments if an administrator approves an installation package by means of group policy.
The Windows Installer is based on a database. Each application to be installed has a file associated with it, with an extension of .msi, which contains the data for that ...