Like Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) Installer, Seagate Software's WinINSTALL 6.0 uses repackaging techniques to let you easily create software installation packages. WinINSTALL works with SMS's Windows NT Package Command Manager (PCM) service, and it creates SMS Program Definition Files (PDFs) and installation status Management Information Format (MIF) files. WinINSTALL also integrates with Seagate's WinLAND, Computer Associates' Unicenter, IBM's Tivoli TME 10, and Tally Systems' NetCensus and CentaMeter.

When you use WinINSTALL with SMS, you need to include the automated installer (winstall.exe) in the package source directory or the logon.srv\mstest directory. To ensure full support for complete WinINSTALL functionality, you need to copy this file, and several others that the wi6notes.pdf file lists, into your SMS site.srv\maincfg.box\mstest directory. WinINSTALL will replicate these files to the site logon servers.

You can use WinINSTALL without SMS. WinINSTALL has built-in electronic software-distribution mechanisms that operate independently of the network operating system (NOS) and protocol. Using only WinINSTALL, you can install applications via an NT service (much as you can with SMS's PCM service), by email distribution, from a Web distribution page on your intranet with an ActiveX or Netscape plug-in, automatically at Windows startup, at a scheduled time, or interactively (by letting the user choose applications from a menu). The various WinINSTALL client agents install automatically via the network logon script.

You can base WinINSTALL software distribution on username or group. WinINSTALL supports Novell Bindery, Novell Directory Services (NDS), and NT directories. A separate tab appears in the Administrator utility for each network type that WinINSTALL detects. The same cross-platform support exists in the Administrator security settings. You can configure which users or user groups have different types of access to the Administrator program.

WinINSTALL includes a scripting language based on Summit Software's BasicScript 2.5. This scripting language is Visual Basic (VB)-compatible and more robust than SMS Installer's scripting language, but the scripting-integrated development environment isn't as user-friendly. You might find the steeper learning curve worth the effort because of WinINSTALL's advanced features, including the ability to set watch variables and breakpoints.

Although SMS Installer comes free with SMS, WinINSTALL's additional features might be worth the extra cost. You can download a demo version of the software at http://www.seagatesoftware.com/ wininstall.