Requirements to autorun/autostart CD?

Subject: Requirements to autorun/autostart CD?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Julie Nelson <JOHNST -at- acehardware -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 23 May 2006 15:12:12 -0400

Julie Nelson wondered: <<Another task I have is to develop hardware/software requirements needed to run the CD. We plan on including this on the CD jacket. For example, we plan on stating that PCs must have Windows XP or Windows 2000 on it. Another requirement is to mention what software is needed to view the CD.>>

A couple brief notes before answering your other questions: First, I believe it's possible to disable the autorun feature in most modern operating systems, usually via a system-level preference setting, so make sure to make it obvious how to run your software if it doesn't run automatically. At a minimum there should be an icon labeled "Click to run the presentation" or something equally obvious when someone double-clicks the CD icon; "autorun.exe" makes no sense whatsoever to naive users (most of them? <g>).

Second, make sure to provide "here's where to go to obtain the necessary software" information if you're not sure the software is available on every user's computer. Because Web links often change, it may be worthwhile providing these links (and perhaps even the software itself if licensing requirements permit) via your company's Web site. This lets you ensure that the software can be found--provided, of course, that you keep your own Web site up to date.

Better still: Licensing restrictions permitting, include this software on the installation CD, because then you're sure that all the necessary software (in a version tested by your software developers) is present on the installation disk. That's a double boon to travellers or people with slow dial-up connections. Just don't overwrite new software with older software. Users _hate_ that.

<<Isn't Windows Media Player automatically included on Windows XP & 2000?>>

I believe so, and that it's part of the Windows update service. I know it's part of the optional downloads when I update my Win2000 system. But because it's an optional download, and because many people don't update their Windows software, you may want to consider my previous suggestion of having an appropriate version included on your installer CD.

<<Is there a Mac equivalent?>>

WMP is also available for the Mac ( pid=windowsmedia), but is no longer being developed, and isn't particularly well liked in the Mac community. QuickTime may be a better solution since it's being actively developed for both Mac and Windows.

<<What are other applications (Windows & Mac) can be used to view an autorun/autostart CD?>>

Have you considered simply using vanilla HTML? That way, anyone with a reasonably modern Web browser can run the presentation successfully. Maximum portability, minimum hassle for tech support.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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Requirements to autorun/autostart CD: From: Nelson, Julie

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