XCOPY deployment works well for many websites. However, it falls short in some situations. 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 if you have a precisely scripted and repeatable installation process, XCOPY may get tedious and error-prone. For all of these scenarios, you need an installation tool with more robust capabilities. Several third-party installation tools are available, such as InstallShield, InstallAnywhere, and Wise.
Windows has its own installation technology, known as Windows Installer, which has been included with all of 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 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 application, including rules ...