Does anyone know (or, I guess, I have gut feeling about) how the download size of a software product affects potential users, bandwidth not withstanding?

For example: Does a bigger download make them believe that is it more full-featured than it is (like huge .NET Runtimes if deployed with your package)?

Reason is, I'm developing a VSTO add-in where there is my add-in (small MB), the VSTO run-time, .NET runtime, and Primary Interops. This could make it more than 70 MB in total size, just for an add-in that does a couple of things well. But that's all they are - just a couple of things.

With VSTO deployments, I know I could deploy a smaller package size by assuming they've got the .NET runtime (and when they don't, initialize the download/install of that, but it seems like a clunky way to make just an ass out of me).

What I really want is for people to just download the app (the trial version) to see if they like it. Is there some kind of magic happy threshold - like users of non-big name apps are more likely to download something that is under 20 MB than 50 MB?


Who are you targeting? Most people couldn't care less about download sizes. If you're targeting tech users, then I'd say most of them would prefer a smaller download, which signals that your software isn't bloated. But even then, it's really not a huge deal.

I wouldn't include runtimes in a download if they are several times larger than the application/plugin itself, which sounds to be the case. I'd have the installer search for prerequisites, and if one isn't found, either (1) prompt the user to download and install (ask, and then launch a web browser), or (2) automatically download and install, after asking for permission to go online.

  • 1
    Yeah propose a web installer AND a full installer for network install – user2567 Oct 24 '10 at 8:37
  • @Pierre 303: that's an interesting option to consider that I hadn't before. – Todd Main Oct 24 '10 at 17:24
  • By all means, don't assume the target computer has full access to the internet. There are several cases where files are downloaded, vetted, and then moved to a private network. The private network has no internet, while the public network does. – Berin Loritsch May 31 '11 at 18:21

I would assume that a longer download means they are more likely to get tired of waiting and try something else. People are impatient. The sooner they are using and loving you app the better.

  • fair enough. do you have any use-cases either public or from your company/experience to support this assumption? – Todd Main Oct 24 '10 at 5:50
  • Hmm. I have a 20mbit connection at home, 70MB takes about 30+ seconds for me. That's not too bad. However, if it were to take something like 5 minutes to download, and I had to leave soon, I would probably not mess with it. – Berin Loritsch May 31 '11 at 18:23

Look at the motivation for Microsoft developing the .NET Client Profile - a smaller download because 350MB for the full .NET framework installer is pretty big. As @Jason says, people are impatient - don't assume that they're on wired networking or a decent broadband connection. Indeed, this site is migrating from the West Coast to the East Coast of the US to address performance concerns.. and this site is mostly text.

There's no need to ship the frameworks as part of your install - the VS Installer support will check for the existence of your dependent frameworks and instruct the user how to get them.

  • yeah, i was accounting for using the client profile in my calcs. but even still, that with the VSTO runtimes and primary interops will make something huge. the likelihood that anyone will have .NET 4.0 client profile, and the other components, installed is probably small. – Todd Main Oct 24 '10 at 17:23

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