The Stirling Group

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A company founded by Viresh Bhatia and Rick Harold in Schaumburg, Illinois, USA in 1987 to market an Microsoft Windows based geographic mapping software that actually never saw the light of day. But in an attempt to generate cash the company started to productify and sell some of the programming utilities they had developed for their in-house needs. Their first products were shipped in 1990 and by 1991 they five cross-platform programmers utilities and libraries that they called "The Shield Series" and were available in version for both Windows 3 and OS/2 PM 1.x, with each product using the exact same API for both operating systems, thus simplifying the creation of cross-platform Windows and OS/2 applications. The company had a slightly unusual naming scheme with all their products having names ending in all caps "SHIELD", apparently more in the vein of "shielded you from the native API" rather than as reference to defence in any way.


Installshield logo.gif

In the latter half of 1990 when The Stirling Group was attending a Windows systems event they decided to take out an advert in Dr. Dobb's Journal advertising their line of current and upcoming products. The company had five products already shipping or at the end of development and nearing release and had a graphics designer make an advert with those five products, however when Viresh Bhatia took a copy of the advert to a local local printer to make leaflets out of it the printer did not like the asymmetry that the went with having a two row list of 5 products and said that it would look better if they were six.

The advert placed by Viresh Bhatia in late 1990 that featured a non-existing InstallSHIELD product

Bhatia in a hurry decided to add a fictional product called InstallShield to make up the six, but some sort of a generic installer program had been one of the product he and co-founder Harold had brainstormed about when originally trying to come up with products to develop, but had decided against it as something no-one would be willing to pay money for it, and they had not even went as far as to define what such a product would do exactly.

To everyone's surprise the only product anyone showed any interest either at the Windows Development show or in response to the Dr. Dobb's advert was the fictional InstallShield and the company even received firm orders for the product although no development of it was actually taking place. After querying developers at the show what exactly they were looking for in such a product the partners started work on an application that simplified the installation and de-installation process of software for developers and end users. In 1992 the company introduced the InstallShield product, initially for OS/2 and a little later for MS Windows, it became such an instant hit that they ceased the development of most of their other "Shield" products shortly thereafter with the exception of DemoShield and the company ended up renaming itself InstallShield Corporation in 1993.

During the late 90's the company was doing 400 million USD in sales a year, but things started to slow down when Microsoft introduced a better default installer with the introduction of Windows XP, which lead many developers to conclude that the basic installer was good enough and competitors to release simpler and cheaper products that simply leached onto the Microsoft installer for most functions, and adding value with relatively small feature sets. The company was sold to Macromedia in 2004, they sold their business division to venture capitalists in 2008, who formed a company called "Acresso Software Corporation" around the operation and in 2009, Acresso changed its name to "Flexera Software" which continues to sell modern versions of InstallShield.

The company actually kept supplying an OS/2 compatible version of InstallShield until late 2006, but due to the ubiquity of IBM's Feature Installer and later other solutions such as WarpIN it remained off the radar for most OS/2 users and was mainly used by big OS/2 accounts as an internal tool.




  • Viresh Bhatia
  • Rick Harold