Monthly Archives: August 2012

Understanding Software Layers

In the past couple of posts I have talked about application management. I have also talked about how one of the goals of Install Monitor was to help avoid situations where one is forced to reinstall because of a misbehaving applications. In this post I want to go into more detail about how Mirekusoft Install Monitor works as an application management platform.

 

First we need to discuss the typical software layers as shown in Figure 1. The operating system is the lowest layer. It runs on the hardware directly. Applications run on top of the operating system (OS) by using operating system services. Sometimes there is an additional layer that applications run on. For instance web applications, .NET applications, and Java applications all run on top of other frameworks such as your browser, .NET Framework, and the Java Runtime Environment, respectively. The user data and settings are then used by the applications. Also note that as you go up the software stack your portability tends to increase. For instance you can transfer an MP3 that is the user data layer to another computer or device while applications generally are tied to the specific OS installation.

 

 

 

http://www.windowsitpro.com/content/content/129007/Savill%20WIN2214Fig1.JPG
Image linked with permission from John Savill. Original article at http://www.windowsitpro.com/article/virtualization2/virtual-desktop-infrastructure-part-1-everything-except-vd

 

 

Applications are expected to manage themselves. By this I mean they have to make sure they are updated and remove themselves properly and use resources efficiently. However as I have discussed before applications are often not good at managing themselves and sometimes get into inconsistent states that might require reinstalling the OS or going to a backup.

 

Note however how the situation is different when Install Monitor is installed on a system (Figure 2). Install Monitor inserts another layer into the software stack, an application management platform. This is  a virtual software layer that applications are installed on. This now gives you additional management capabilities including the ability to monitor and fully remove an application. With this information you should be able to understand why Install Monitor works best when you install it before you install your applications.

 

 

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Figure 2. Install Monitor provides an application management platform
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Mirekusoft Install Monitor 1.1.98.0

A new version of Mirekusoft Install Monitor is available on the download page. This is a maintenance release that fixes some bugs and improves compatibility with other programs. Please upgrade if you have an older version. Any issues can be addressed though the forums and email.

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Avoiding reinstalling

Windows 8 will contain a new feature that allows you to refresh your computer. Known as “Refresh your PC”, it will keep all personal data, Metro style apps, and important settings from the PC, and reinstall Windows. So in other words it makes reinstalling easier. In a way it’s a tacit admission that sometimes Windows users are left with no other choice. Why would you need to reinstall?

How to Refresh Your PC in Windows 8

Windows 8 Newly Added Features to Restart and Refresh your PC

One reason is software rot which I talked about a while back. Still another reason is sometimes you run into a case where there is a single application that is causing problems. Uninstalling and reinstalling that application also does not fix the underlying issue. The application is somehow in a state where it is not running properly and cannot be fixed through reinstallation.

If you ever been in that situation it can be really frustrating since you have to reinstall everything because of a single misbehaving but necessary application. Reinstalling Windows and your applications usually involves fumbling around for install discs or re-downloading programs. You also have to make sure you preserve all your data. Backups of course can make things easier but it’s still messy. It’s like getting a new house because you lost your house keys.

Mirekusoft Install Monitor can offer a better alternative to this frustrating experience. By monitoring installed applications it determines what resources belong to each application. That makes it possible to thoroughly remove installed applications. This can help you to remove an application that cannot fix itself. Fully removing the application with Install Monitor and then installing again can often fix most issues. This method allows you to “refresh” individual applications. You can maintain a clean system that is free from the debris of removed programs.

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Application Bundles on Windows

If you have ever looked at the Contents tab in Install Monitor you will realize that applications do not install to just one place. Usually there are several different registry and file locations used. The registry tends to get hit the hardest and in general becomes a virtual junkyard for any software you have ever run. Registry cleaners profit of this situation by claiming to speed up your computer by removing some of this junk. They usually take a long time to run and leave it up to the user to decide if something is safe to remove.

 

 

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The contents pane in Install Monitor

 

 

Ideally an application should be bundled together to a single directory instead of all over the system. Interestingly prior to Windows 95 applications generally installed themselves into a single directory tree. Also Apple’s Mac OS X uses the concept of application bundles. Basically an application bundle is all the items an application needs to run grouped together. Notice how the idea of an application bundles is similar to Install Monitor’s contents pane. Install Monitor is able to keep track of what items are required by each application by monitoring the install. In effect each program becomes a “bundle.”

 

 

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In Install Monitor each program is a “bundle”

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Application management and why it’s not just an uninstaller

You might have noticed the subtitle for this site is “application management software.” So what is application management? This blog post will discuss that and how it relates to how Install Monitor works.

What is application management?

Mirekusoft Application Management Software

Application management essentially is the ability to completely manage your installed programs. Generally on Windows when you install an application you give complete control over it to do whatever it wants on your computer. So it basically manages itself. As we have discussed before (here and here) applications in general do not manage themselves well. They are not good at cleaning up after themselves when you uninstall them and they are not good about making sure they are efficient in their use of your computer’s resources.

Another way to think of application management is by looking at smartphones or tablets. If you have used one you realize how much easier it is to install/update/remove and in general manage applications. For instance you are usually presented with a list of applications. From here you can run or uninstall the application. The phone takes care of most of the application management.

How Mirekusoft Install Monitor 2.0 Aids in Better PC Efficiency

Mirekusoft Install Monitor helps solve the problem of application management by monitoring what applications do on your system. It monitors file and registry changes applications make. This makes removing them completely much simpler. You can also launch applications from the details pane. Application management also involves allowing you to see the resources used by installed applications. It’s possible to monitor resources such as disk, memory, and CPU. This monitoring can help you identify inefficient applications or bloatware. Look for more features in the next release that will improve application management.

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