Zero G adds platforms, updates to installer tool

Zero G Software Inc. announced the new version of its InstallAnywhere software installation and deployment tool Monday, adding support for more platforms, tighter integration with the company's PowerUpdate management software and optimized installer features.

InstallAnywhere is a framework for building installers that can simultaneously install and configure software on multiple platforms or across networks. The software also lets companies build a single installer to service multiple platforms, though the installer will adopt the look and feel of whatever platform it's launched on.

InstallAnywhere comes with an array of pre-built features and Wizards aimed at speeding the process of building installers, offers support for and the ability to build installers in 29 languages, can be run as a graphical or command line application and can even be used for Web installation in which a user visits a Web site and requests that an application be installed from there.

InstallAnywhere 4.5, the new version announced Monday, expands the operating systems the software supports to include MacOS X, Windows XP, HP-UX 11i and AIX 5L, Zero G said. These systems come in addition to the wide range already supported, including Windows 95/88/NT/2000, MacOS, Linux, Solaris and FreeBSD. InstallAnywhere 4.5 also adds enhanced look and feel support for these operating systems, enhanced usability of installers and more, Zero G said.

The new version adds support for MacOS X by offering the ability to create aliases and dock items, as well as by supporting the Classic MacOS' dual-fork file model, a company statement said.

Lastly, InstallAnywhere now includes full integration with PowerUpdate, Zero G's software management and updating tool. InstallAnywhere installers can now be built to include PowerUpdate out-of-the-box so that applications that support it can be automatically updated and managed remotely, Zero G said. The ability to automatically update applications when upgrades become available will save companies money that would otherwise be spent on technical support, said Eric Shapiro, chief executive officer of Zero G. Previously, PowerUpdate could only be used in conjunction with InstallAnywhere as a stand-alone application, Shapiro said.

InstallAnywhere is used by more than 60,000 customers, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, IBM Corp., AT&T Corp., Intel Corp., FedEx Corp., Nortel Networks Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Apple Computer Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc., Shapiro said. PowerUpdate currently has about 2,000 customers, he said.

If those customers share analysts' feelings about Zero G and its products, the company's future could be bright.

"They really have great stuff. (InstallAnywhere) is a pretty impressive product," said Kathy Quirk, senior analyst in the application strategies practice at the Hurwitz Group Inc.

The software offers benefits to software developers deploying installers, to IT departments and to users, she said. Software developers will appreciate the flexibility of the interfaces they can build and the ability to customize, while IT departments will see the tool save them time, she said. End users will benefit from the easy-to-use installers created by InstallAnywhere, she said, noting that the end-user experience is sometimes forgotten by companies.

Quirk also thinks that Zero G might have a future beyond just building installers and installer tools. The hosted services that Zero G offers with PowerUpdate could lead to further hosted management and services offerings, she said.

Outsourcing is a "trend that makes good sense," she said. Some companies are reticent to use outsourced services because they want fuller control over their operations, but "once people try it out, the reluctance goes away."

InstallAnywhere is available immediately worldwide in three editions. The Enterprise edition, which costs US$2495 per developer (a server installation is also required), offers the full range of InstallAnywhere features. The Standard edition costs $995 and has fewer features, including support for only nine languages and less ability to customize. The Now edition is free, but has the fewest features of all. PowerUpdate software is sold using a similar structure.

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