Microsoft Web Platform Installer Beta

It isn’t often that a new piece of Windows technology takes me by surprise or really knocks my socks off, but I have to say the IIS team has really done it this time.

If you have been around Apache Web servers for any amount of time you have probably seen or used a program called Fantastico De Lux which would easily auto install applications to your Apache web server. Well now the IIS team has released an auto installer for IIS7 that has that same kind of functionality.

The Microsoft Web Platform Installer gives you a single interface for installing Microsoft’s entire Web Platform and Tools. You can either choose to install all the applications or just the ones that you need through a simple and intuitive interface. This installer will install the following applications:

  • IIS7
  • Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition
  • SQL Server 2008 Express Edition
  • .Net Framework

NOTE: These applications are currently in BETA status, as such they might be unstable for production environments that could cause lost data or unstable systems. If you use these on a production environment and something goes *POOF* please do not say you weren’t warned.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at what you need to run the Microsoft Web Application Installer.

  • Windows Vista RTM, Windows Vista SP1, Windows Server 2008 (works on both x86 & 64-bit versions)
  • Must have Administrator privileges
  • .NET 2.0 Framework
  • Internet Access

I am going to start with a clean install of Windows Server 2008, with no roles installed at all on the server. I will begin by downloading the Web Platform Installer from Microsoft at: http://www.microsoft.com/web/channel/products/WebPlatformInstaller.aspx

I am installing certain applications in a specific order, because I had several errors when trying to install the complete package without specifying the order of install. This seemed to come from the fact that certain things were trying to install before Windows Installer 4.5.

This demo will install these applications in a certain order to work around this issue. Remember this is a beta and I am sure by the time it gets a Go Live approval these little kinks will be all worked out.

1. Navigate to the web page above and then click on the Install Now button. If you get a security warning please click Add to trust the domain downloads.microsoft.com

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2. The download dialog will give you a choice to save or run the installer, in this case I am going to click Save.

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3. I am going to use the default location to save the file, but you can change it to match your preference, once you do click Save.

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4. Once the download is complete, click on Run to start the installation process.

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5. A security warning pops up next wanting to make sure that you really want to run the installer (you can never be too safe!), go ahead and click Run.

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6. You will see some quick Command boxes, then you will come to the Microsoft Web Platform Installer and be presented with 3 choices: Complete, ASP .Net Developer, or Your Choice.

For this demo I am going to choose Your Choice, to keep the security profile low by only loading the applications I need.

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7. The next page will give you a list of everything that can be installed with the Web Platform Installer.

I am going to use the dropdown next to Recommendations and choose Default. This will load a bare bones IIS7 install. If you have need of other modules you can also select those from the dropdown.

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8. Next I am going to go to the Tools and Framework tab and choose the Windows Installer 4.5 checkbox at the bottom, and then click Install.

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9. Now you can see the products that you are going to install and you can review them to make sure you didn’t forget to add the ones that you need. When you are sure you are ready to go, go ahead and click Continue.

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10. Before you can go on you now have to agree to the license terms of all the applications and modules you are installing. If you are good with this, then click on I Accept.

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11. After you accept the license terms, you will now see the Download and Install progress for the select applications.

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12. The installer will prompt you for a reboot, so go ahead and click on Yes, which will trigger a reboot right away.

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13. When the reboot finishes you will see an Installation Summary that gives you the status of your installs. As you can see everything installed correctly.

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14. I am now going to run the application again, and this time click on the Tools and Framework tab, and place a checkmark next to SQL Express 2008 & SQL Server Driver for PHP. After you choose that click Install.

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15. Again review the products and click on Continue.

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16. Accept the license terms for the applications by clicking on I Accept.

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17. The SQL Driver will prompt you to agree to the License terms again.

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18. Then the SQL Driver will prompt you for a location to install. I am going to use C:sqldriver and then click OK.

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19. Since the folder doesn’t exist, you are prompted to create it. Click on Yes.

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20. You get a success message for downloading the SQL driver for PHP and are given a blog address for feedback http://blogs.msdn.com/sqlphp, click on Ok to close the window.

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21. After the install process you will get a Status window with the installed applications.

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22. You can now see that the IIS role has been installed on the server along with SQL Express.

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Though I had some initial problems with the installer, by reading the log files I was able to see the issues and correct them with just taking a little more time to install the applications in a certain order.

Even with this though, it was a breeze to install exactly the applications I wanted without having to download multiple packages or find the download pages. As this installer matures I am confident these little bugs will be worked out.

It is a very big step forward in convenience that has up until now been mostly the realm of open source applications.

My next article will talk about the other exciting release — the Web Application Installer, which will install a variety of popular open source programs quickly and easily.

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