VBScript Deprecation impact and solution on installer packages

Written by Renato Ivanescu · December 12th, 2023

VBScript (Visual Basic Script) is a scripting language introduced by Microsoft in the mid-1990s. It was designed to offer a lightweight scripting capability for web development and Windows administration. In October 2023, Microsoft announced the VBScript deprecation in upcoming Windows releases, making it available only as a feature on demand.

VBScript Evolution

VBScript started as a client-side scripting solution for web pages. Over time, it became the default scripting language for Microsoft’s ASP on the Internet Information Services (IIS) due to its strong connection to the Microsoft system.

Beyond web applications, Microsoft integrated VBScript into the Windows Operating System with the launch of Windows Script Host (WSH) in 1998. WSH enabled script execution directly on the Windows desktop from the command console. Thus, VBScript could be used to automate tasks from file management to system configuration.

VBScript or PowerShell custom actions

VBScript custom actions have been a longstanding and commonly used feature in installer packages.They can access the installation session and execute complex tasks during the setup process. However, due to VBScript deprecation, these custom actions may become non-functional. It's essential to upgrade them to ensure your installer works effectively.

We recommend that you shift from VBScript to PowerShell (PS) for the custom actions in your installers. PS custom actions from Advanced Installer offer full control over the installation process through the access to Windows Installer properties. The scripts can easily set and get property values, similar to how VBScript operates.

With Advanced Installer, you have the option to run an Inline PowerShell Script or a PowerShell script from a file in an MSI, the outcome being the same. An Inline PS script is visible directly in the Advanced Installer GUI, making it easy to edit the script in the installer project. To add a PS custom action navigate to the Custom Actions page, search for PowerShell and choose the custom action you need.

PowerShell Custom Actions for Installers

The VBScript phase-out in Windows

In October 2023, after many years of its use, Microsoft announced that VBScript will be available as a feature on demand in future releases of Windows until it is eventually removed. The reason for this phase-out has not been officially stated. One speculated reason is regarding security concerns, given that malicious software has been distributed using VBScript in the past. Thus, Microsoft tries to address potential vulnerabilities in the Windows System.

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Renato Ivanescu

Renato is a technical writer for Advanced Installer and an assistant professor at the University of Craiova. He is currently a PhD. student, and computers and information technology are his areas of interest. He loves innovation and takes on big challenges.