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To Windows Installer or not to Windows Installer..that is the ?

We have  a desktop application which needs to be installed on Windows 2000, Windows XP and Vista.

We have always used WISE Installation system in the past which is a non MSI/Windows installer software setup tool.

Now we are evaluating Wise Installation Studio 7 and wise Install Shield 12 because I feel like Microsoft is really pushing this MSI installation technology.

Are you guys using Windows installer to install your apps? I have found that other tools like Setup Builder for example, are much easier to use. Their custom scripting engine is about 100% more usable than Windows Installer but yet the Giant seems to be pushing MSI so what are you guys doing?
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
The biggest benefit of Windows Installer is its excellent integration into enterprise system management tools. So if you sell to enterprises this will be a big factor. They want to be able to use products like SMS and MOM to schedule and distribute software upgrades. If you use some other off the shelf installer then this will be harder for them.

But if you are selling to the average Joe Blow on the street then use whatever you want to. They simply won't care.
dood mcdoogle
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
It is a pain in the arse to roll out software that doesn't provide an .msi.  No msi means figuring out how to wrap the executable in a way compatible with all of Microsoft's deployment tools.

What I've seen are executable stub files (setup.exe) that in turn just launches the .msi file.  Even still all a non-corporate user needs to do is just double click on the .msi file to "run" it.

I'd do MSI even for something that might seem to not need it.  You never know when some large enterprise wants to site license it and then deploy it on their corporate network.
Cory R. King
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
I have been recently looking into Wix for my installer.  Microsoft is now using it (since they wrote it) for at least VS2005 and SQL Server 2005 if not more products.  It is free and there are some editors out there for it too now (wixedit for example) to make using it simpler.  Even some of the larger commercial packages (I think it was the new Wise) uses it or has parts of WiX in it.  The new WiX v3 has a program named ClickThrough that also does things like the ClickOnce stuff that is in VS2005.  It seems to work well too.  The proj files are just xml so they can be put into source control easily too.
SteveM Send private email
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
We are a small MS Micro ISV and we deploy our system to about 200 small businesses across the U.S. right now via the web.

So we don't have any need for big corporate america functionality but we do want to be compatible with recent versions of MS windows like 2000, XP and VISTA

SetupBuilder by LinderSoft is a great system but it doesn't support Windows Installer. It uses custom scripting which is very flexible, powerful and seemingly simple to use. I demoed it but haven't tested it thoroughly. I like it better than the MSI tools like WISE or installShield but just feel like MS is really pushing this windows installer stuff.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
You are selling to small business, nothing saying some of those small business don't have enterprise level role out's inplace.  I've seen companies with less then 30 people have automated system setups and would need the MSI to do that.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
.msi is a pain at the moment, the tools especially the ones in VS are not really there yet.

But I suspect everyone is going to be pushed to .msi by security policies in windows even if you aren't a corporate supplier. If Vista pops up a box warning about running a setup.exe how many home users will equate this with a virus and just say no to your product?

If you are considering an executable installer the generally preffered one here seems to be the free innosetup.
Martin Send private email
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Why not just wrap the exe installer in an MSI? Sure, you lose all of the rollback features of MSI, but you still get the ability to integrate the installer into your enterprise.
Wayne B Send private email
Thursday, February 15, 2007
+1 for the WiX toolset. It is still a little bit short on documentation (especially for version 3), but it works pretty well in hiding the uglier parts of the msi database layout behind straight forward declarations.

The approach of having a working installer each time you do a build right from the start and extending it as your app develops is very convincing to me.

Some documentation and helpfull examples for version 3 can be found at
HeO Send private email
Friday, February 16, 2007
>>I feel like Microsoft is really pushing this MSI

I'd be more interested in what your customers are asking for.
Tony Edgecombe
Friday, February 16, 2007
Martin - if your installer doesn't need to write to privileged locations then add an XML manifest so Vista knows the installer doesn't need admin privileges and you won't see an UAC prompt.
K Renaud
Monday, February 19, 2007
It's 2007 and Windows Installer has been around since 1999, some 8 years. It's time to enter the 21st century. Windows Installer helps those even who only have Group Policy for application deployment.
Aaron Send private email
Monday, March 12, 2007

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