Software Field Upgrades

Hi,

We have a Windows machine (pentium) that we ship to customers.  The system has our proprietary software as well as third party drivers that are needed by our application.  Currently, we have a master drive which we clone and ship to customers.  

Soon, we will have to deal with software field upgrades - upgrades to our application software, upgrades to third party drivers that is needed by our application etc.  What is the best way to handles this - is Install Shield an option?  

Specific suggestions would be appreciated.



Thanks,

mparavas
mparavasAsked:
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VinnnnieCommented:
I would suggest setting up a Public FTP site and email your customers where the updates are. I would also make it so they can download off the web as well, Give them two links; One for FTP and another for HTTP.
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mparavasAuthor Commented:
Public FTP site or web sites are not an option for several reasons.  The upgrade has to be via CD.
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grayeCommented:
Do you want a system for "patch management" of your application... or do you want to just have a simple way for the user to uninstall the old version and reinstall a new version?

Patch Managment is a complex system, and typically requires 3rd-party tools (and extensions/add-ons to your development system)

On the other hand, writing a Setup application that uninstalls/reinstalls is fairly simple work.  What is the development environment?  Visual Studios perhaps?
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mparavasAuthor Commented:
Our system is not very sophisticated, hence the dilemna over software field upgrades.  We load the software and associated files along with all relevant hardware drivers on to a master drive which has the Windows SysPrep run on it.

Every time, we ship a product, manufacturing will clone these drives, put it on a new system, do some testing and ship.  The application auto-launches after the auto-login process.

Now, here's where it gets messy.  If we have to upgrade the application, we would have to kill the auto-launched application and replace it with the new .exe.  There may be other supported dll's and drivers that need to be upgraded too.  I am looking for the best way to do this.  We prefer to mail a CD upgrade to our customers.  

The application itself is a VB application.


--Mukund
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cme12345Commented:
Check out Symantec Ghost (http://enterprisesecurity.symantec.com/products/products.cfm?ProductID=3).

You create a "model" machine with the required OS, drivers, and applications.  You then capture a "cloned" image of the hard drive using Ghost and a CD burner.  Your users out in the field can then use the CD to restore their hard drive.  You can help the users out by creating a bootable CD with a batch file containing the Ghost command line necessary to restore their hard drive.

This solution works very well if all the machines are identical, and if you can stand to have the hard drive reloaded.
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mparavasAuthor Commented:
I will check out this solution.  Is InstallShield a viable option as well?
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cme12345Commented:
Yes, InstallShield could be a viable option.  I have some experience with version 5.5 (don't know about later versions).  Using their wizard allows you to package up an application very quickly.  It also has lots of flexibility to make registry entries, copy files to desired locatations, and create shortcuts.
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VinnnnieCommented:
The only way Norton Ghost will work in this situation is that all the PC's will need to have the same specs. The other way this can work to your advantage is that if you are using a backup of a partitian that doesn't have the OS on it, then it will work.
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mparavasAuthor Commented:
One final question.  

It sounds like using InstallShield is not a software development effort but there are wizards to package up update - I would need todo exactly the kind of stuff you described - copy files to desired locations, make registry entries etc.  Can you confirm?


Thanks.
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cme12345Commented:
Yes, InstallShield supports these activities.  They have evaluation versions that you can download and experiment with.  You may want to take a look at their Express version <http://www.installshield.com/products/express/>.
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