B1. I have downloaded Orbiter, but how do I install it?

When you download Orbiter, you get a zip file (such as orbiter060929_base.zip) which contains all the program and data files required to install and run Orbiter. Unlike some other software packages, Orbiter does not come with a utility that performs the program installation. Instead, all you have to do is to unpack the zip file into a directory of your choice. (To do this, you need an unzip utility such as winzip.) This may look a bit inconvenient at first, but it has some distinct advantages:

  • Orbiter does not modify any of your Windows system files or registry entries, so there is no installer required to perform behind-the-scenes magic without the user's consent. Orbiter installation is completely transparent, and all you get is a new directory, containing the complete Orbiter installation.
  • This also means that multiple Orbiter installations can coexist on the same computer in different directories, without interfering with each other. This is particularly useful if you want to try new addons without compromising your stable Orbiter installation, or if you want to maintain different Orbiter "themes", for example a "realistic" and a "science fiction" Orbiter installation.
  • Orbiter uninstallation is equally simple: Just delete the Orbiter folder with all files and subdirectories. No need for a dedicated de-installation utility that may leave residual files behind or corrupt the registry.
Once you have unpacked the Orbiter download file, just double-click on the "orbiter.exe" entry in the main orbiter directory to launch Orbiter. For quick access, you can also create a shortcut for orbiter.exe and copy it to your Windows desktop.