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Just now I wanted to download ASP.NET MVC and seen there is now something called Web Platform Installer. The direct link to the installer is however still there.

A few days ago I wanted to get SQL 2008 Express. Now I only was given this Web Platform Installer and that was it. I had to Google for some time until I found the link to standalone installer.

Then last year I tried to download some ISO from their site and I had to install some awful installer just to get to the file. Our admin pulls images out of their MSDN site with this weird tool as well.

What's the problem there? It went fine for years, we could download everything over FTP and HTTP. Why now this stuff thet gets in my way and lowers drastically my user experience? I understand until know some semilegal download or adult sites were noticed to practice these custom downloaders to distribute malware. Why is MS doing this?

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4 Answers 4

Plenty of companies for you to use their non standard download and installation solutions.

  • Installed Adobe Acrobat Reader recently? There's a lovely download manager.
  • Play World of Warcraft?
  • Apple (software updates)

The reason these companies create their own software is so that it is easier to support.

When you download through a browser, there are far too many things to consider:

  • Are you running some sort of blocking tool (like a modified hosts file, or perhaps adblock plus for firefox users)
  • What version of your browser are you running?
  • What Operating system are you running
  • etc.

There are so many questions that support would need to know and ask if web downloading was the first and only option. When they use a web downloader they say "Windows or Mac?" and you grab the right downloader. The downloader is clever enough to take any given user's setup out of the way (unless there's an underlying network issue).

  • It's easier for companies to support.
  • It's easier for Joe Sixpack.
  • It's easier to restart a download - this is a godsend for large files.
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Good to also see a "objective" point here –  Ivo Flipse Jul 29 '09 at 15:53

MS is doing it most likely to maximize the economy of download crash recovery. If the download fails through the other methods, you will have to start over in most cases.

This is the simple answer.

That said I think there is another level to this entirely. I think MS is...

#1 trying to establish a system where they can lock "unauthorized users" out of receiving software and updates.

#2 The download tool is probably just being used across the board as a matter of convenience for them.

#3 Doing this will make sure that no third party download managers will work with their site.

Check out the news stories on google concerning the Windows Genuine Advantage Spyware controversy. I think this demonstrates quite clearly MS's intent to deprive certain users of updates and is indicative of one of the reasons to move to a download tool like this.

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2  
I believe both FTP and HTTP support retrieval of files at some random position. There are lots of download managers for all platforms. Many sites on the web work perfectly in this mode. Why invent the wheel? –  user4087 Jul 29 '09 at 15:27
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@ M.M. I totally agree with you. It is irritating when you have to navigate such a maze just to get a stand alone file you can use. This is almost as annoying as being forced to navigate someones phone system menu just to talk to someone. –  Axxmasterr Jul 29 '09 at 15:32

Just combining the tools that we had to download separately into a single interface. If you download SQLServer Express, you were likely to download Visual Studio Express as well. This isn't always the case (such as you I am assuming) and for those times it is bothersome.

I was personally frustrated trying to find the source for Subtext. All paths led me to the web installer, but I found what I needed on codeplex or wherever.

Probably this combined interface makes the most sense for a large number of users, and they are willing to irritate the rest of us, but as you and I have shown, we can find the thing we need eventually.

Hanselman explains it pretty well I think.

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First, microsoft installers doesn't contain malware.

Second, this installer make starting with development easier for beginners.

And you can still download software from Microsoft over HTTP directly.

Axxmasterr is right

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@ M.T. Thank you for your support :-) Always nice to get kind words from an SU Rep Elder. –  Axxmasterr Jul 29 '09 at 15:47

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