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Windows Installer Authoring Tools for Developers

This is a complete* list of tools for software developers (ISVs) to create setup programs that use Microsoft's "Windows Installer" technology, also known as "MSI". Not included in this list are tools in the following categories, which are listed on separate pages on InstallSite:

*Is a tool missing on this page? Let me know.

Status Information

The status information has been updated on September 9, 2014.

Microsoft Windows Installer SDK

Technically you don't need to buy a toolkit to build MSI packages - the required tools are available in Microsoft's Platform SDK. Even if you are using one of the tools listed below you should download the Windows Installer SDK as it includes the latest documentation from Microsoft and useful tools like Orca.

License: Free

WWW Microsoft Windows Installer SDK (Platform SDK download)
WWW Windows Installer in the MDSN Library (online documentation)

Advanced Installer [ Active ]

Description from the company:
Advanced Installer is a Windows Installer authoring tool which enables developers and system administrators to easily build and repackage complex applications into reliable, ready to deploy MSI and EXE installers, patches and on-line updates. (The Java and Enterprise editions can create install packages for Mac OS X in addition to MSI setups. The Architect edition can create Microsoft App-V packages in addition to the features in the Enterprise edition.)
Uniquely focusing from its very beginnings on the ease of use, Advanced Installer is completely GUI-driven, with intuitive and simple access to all the powerful functionality it offers. Friendly wizards, smart assistants and re-packagers allow even non-experts to produce complete, valid and reliable installers in mere minutes, saving enterprises tens of thousands in training and implementation costs.
By using exclusively the industry standard Window Installer engine without proprietary scripting languages, and by carefully following its recommendations and best practices, Advanced Installer strives to create some of the cleanest, most correct MSI packages which effortlessly pass validation tests and logo certifications.
Advanced Installer is built on standard, open formats. Project files are XML, easily checked in source control systems. Multiple installer types can be defined to be built from a single project. Command-line mode operation allows integration in build scripts. Extensions always follow the Windows Installer recommendations and are provided in native modules for compliant, dependency-less installers.
Advanced Installer can import Inno Setup projects and can also create virtualized application packages for Microsoft App-V.
Advanced Installer is available in five editions, starting with the Freeware community edition and offering a 30-day trial period for the other editions.

Get more information and buy Advanced Installer via the InstallSite Shop

Caphyon

ENGLISH English InstallSite Shop     GERMAN German InstallSite Shop

Manufacturer: Caphyon LTD (Romania), Caphyon LLC (USA)
License: Freeware / Commercial
Status: Active, updates are being released alomost monthly

WWW Product Information

AKInstallerMSI [ Active ]

GERMAN This product is only available in German language

Beschreibung des Herstellers:
Der AKInstallerMSI erstellt robuste Setup-Pakete auf Basis des weltweiten Standards der Windows Installer Technologie (MSI). Zahlreiche Assistenten erleichtern Ihnen die Erstellung selbst komplexer Setups, damit Sie sich mit Ihrem Produkt und nicht mit der Setup-Erstellung beschäftigen müssen. Der AKInstallerMSI unterstützt Sie beim Einsatz aktueller Technologien wie .NET 4.0, DIFx 2.1 oder SQL Server 2008. AKInstallerMSI erlaubt den Import von Visual Studio-, Inno-Setup -Projekten oder MSI-Dateien und sogar den späteren Abgleich von VS-Projekt und Setup-Projekt. Durch einen Mausklick ermitteln Sie die Abhängigkeiten einer Datei und binden diese ein. Systemvoraussetzungen oder die Suche nach bestimmten Produkten lassen sich einfach per Maus auswählen und bereits in der IDE des AKInstallerMSI testen.
Der AKInstallerMSI erweitert den MSI-Funktionsumfang und ermöglicht Ihnen das Anlegen von Benutzern und Benutzergruppen sowie deren Rechten, die Installation von Gerätetreibern über das DIFx 2.0 und das einfache Anlegen von "Geplanten Tasks", die Änderung von Text-Dateien über Regular Expression, die Änderung von XML-Dateien inkl. XPath-Unterstützung, die Konfiguration der Windows Firewall, die Konfiguration des Internet Information Services (IIS), Ausführen von SQL-Skripten sowie das Aufzeichnen von Installationen, um diese in das MSI-Format zu überführen.

Hersteller: AKApplications (Deutschland)
Lizenz: Kommerziell
Status: Aktiv, mehrere Updates pro Jahr

AKApplicationsAKInstallerMSI

Demo-Download und Bestellung

WWW Webseite   Demo-Download und Bestellung

DigitalWeb InstallWizard Professional

Description from the company:
DigitalWeb InstallWizard quickly creates setups, via an intuitive visual interface. Adding files, registry entries, and other elements is as easy as dragging and dropping them to the appropriate view. Most installations can be built within few minutes without any training.
Windows Installer (MSI) support is only included in the Professional edition.

Manufacturer: DigitalWeb (no address on web site, domain is registered in Brasil)
License: Commercial
Status: Package last updated in August 2012, forum displays error message, last post in February 2009.

WWW Web Site

GkSetup

Description from the company:
GkSetup is a setup toolkit that allows you to create professional self-extracting setup files for your application within minutes. It will display your license and readme texts, manages Start Menu entries, and creates an automatic uninstaller. It DLL/OCX registration and there are several language packs available for free.
Windows Installer (MSI) support is only included in the Professional and E-Commerce editions which can create MSI and on-MSI setups from the same project file.

Manufacturer: GkWare e.K. (Germany)
License: Commercial
Status: Unknown, there's no information about release dates on the web site, current version is 2.50. Newest supported Windows version listed on the web site is Windows 8.

WWW Web Site

InstallAware

Please visit www.installaware.com for more information.

InstallConstruct [ Maintenance ]

Description from the company:
Creating packages for setup and file delivery on all Windows platforms is made simple with InstallConstruct. With the step-by-step interface, you can create simple or advanced installers quickly, without time-consuming training or complex technical manuals. The latest release (6.5) also lets you create or rewrap your program as Windows Installer (MSI) with Elevated Privileges.
InstallConstruct gives you all the tools you need to create sophisticated installers easily. Select from one of the package formats, and create an easy-to-assemble installer or setup package with only the components you want to use. Customize the look with colors, fonts and graphics, edit the Windows Registry, create icons, Program Groups, Uninstallers and more - with the easy-to-understand wizard interface.
Included with the program are sample message scripts for English, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. You may use them "as is" to distribute your package in these languages or you may customize or edit it the way you like it.

Manufacturer: FileStream, Inc. (USA)
License: Commercial
Status: Last release adding new features was in December 2012, but bug fixes are still being released (last in January 2014)

WWW Web Site

InstallShield [ Active ] 

Description from the company:
InstallShield, the most popular software installation tool combines power and flexibility with ease-of-use. First-time developers find it easy to create installations, while power users find its depth and flexibility perfect for developing complex software installations. Used on over 500 million PCs worldwide, InstallShield is the market-leading solution for Windows, servers and mobile devices. InstallShield can also create virtualized application packages for Microsoft App-V.
Available in Premier, Professional and Express Editions plus a Limited Edition which owners of Visual Studio can download free of charge.

Order InstallShield in the InstallSite Shop

InstallShield

Premier, Professional, or Express Editions. Full products and upgrades. Books and training courses.

ENGLISH English InstallSite Shop     GERMAN German InstallSite Shop

Manufacturer: Flexera Software (USA). Previous company names include Acresso and Macrovision.
License: Commercial
Status: Active, new versions released about once per year. Last major release was in May 2014.

WWW Web Site

InstEd [ Timeless ]

Description from the company:
If you use Orca, you will love InstEd. If you use some of the more expensive tools, you may find that InstEd makes you more productive for the bread and butter packaging tasks.
InstEd was previously sold by Camwood Ltd. under the name appEditor.

Manufacturer: instedit.com (Australia)
License: Freeware
Status: Last release was in April 2012, but given the nature of the tool new versions would only be required if Microsoft made significant changes to MSI.

WWW Web Site

IsWiX [ Active ]

Description from the author:
IsWiX is a Windows Installer XML (WiX) document editor. It enables non-setup developers to collaborate with setup developers using WiX projects.

Project Leader: Christopher Painter
License: Open Source
Status: Active, last release was in January 2014.

WWW Web Site

izfree [ Timeless ]

Description from the author:
izfree is a collection of free tools for authoring Windows Installer .MSI installation databases. izfree is designed for use in conjunction with the Orca database editor included in the Platform SDK.
izfree, formerly known as 'msidb', automates some tasks specific to the authoring of MSI installation database files with Orca. Orca provides a basic way to edit database tables, but doesn't create them automatically. izfree automates the following tasks:

izfree assumes that you are already familiar with Windows Installer and the MSI SDK documentation. If you are completely new to Windows Installer, you might want to start with Visual Studio Installer and experiment with creating some simple installations and examining the msi with Orca.

Author: Rich Thomson, Microsoft MVP for DirectX and MSI
License: Open Source
Status: Last release was in 2001, but given the nature of the tool new versions would only be required if Microsoft made significant changes to MSI.

WWW Web Site

MakeMSI [ Active ]

Description from the author:
MAKEMSI is a freeware tool which allows you to quickly and automatically create MSI based installers. Once set up subsequent rebuilds take minutes and in general require no MSI skills. MAKEMSI can actually build or update any Windows Installer database types, for example ICE validation suites or merge modules. It is the simplest tool available for MSI automation.
MAKEMSI should be considered as a replacement for anyone who currently manually builds or updates MSIs with table editing tools such as ORCA. Its main purposes are to consistently produce (or edit) MSIs in a simple manner and without user interaction. It promotes reuse and can gather required information from virtually anywhere (such as SQL databases or text files).
MAKEMSI includes a number of useful tools including one to dump or compare Windows Installer databases (an "MSI to TEXT" utility). The output (see see sample) is in a human readable format (unlike that of all other tool I have seen). The output can also be understood by MAKEMSI! Other tools include easy MD5 and Windows Installer GUID generation.

Author: Dennis Bareis
License: Freeware
Status: Last release was in November 2013

WWW Web Site

Microsoft Visual Studio

There are multiple options for creating Windows Installer setups with Visual Studio:

Setup & Deployment Projects / Visual Studio Installer

Starting with version 2003, Visual Studio (Professional Edition and higher) included a Deployment project type that creates MSI packages. For Visual Studio 6 Microsoft offers Visual Studio Installer with similar functionality as a free download. However Visual Studio does not expose all the Windows Installer functionality.

With the release of Visual Studio 2010 Microsoft announced that Visual Studio Installer will be retired in favor of InstallShield Limited Edition. Here's the announcement that was posted in Microsoft's ClickOnce and Setup & Deployment Projects forum:

Retirement of Visual Studio Installer Projects from future versions of Visual Studio
Candy Chiang MSFT Thursday, July 15, 2010 8:07 PM

In Visual Studio 2010, we have partnered with Flexera, makers of InstallShield, to create InstallShield Limited Edition 2010 just for Visual Studio 2010 customers. The InstallShield Limited Edition 2010 offers comparable functionality to the Visual Studio Installer projects. In addition, you can build your deployment projects using Team Foundation Server and MSBuild. For more information, see http://blogs.msdn.com/b/deployment_technologies/archive/2010/04/20/installshield-limited-edition-is-available-for-download-in-visual-studio-2010.aspx.

With InstallShield available, the Visual Studio Installer project types will not be available in future versions of Visual Studio. To preserve existing customer investments in Visual Studio Installer projects, Microsoft will continue to support the Visual Studio Installer projects feature that shipped with Visual Studio 2010 and below as per our product life-cycle strategy. For more information, see Expanded Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy for Business & Development Products.

License: Retail product, part of Visual Studio

WWW Microsoft Visual Studio Installer home page
WWW Visual Studio Installer Documentation

Add-Ins for Visual Studio

Starting with Visual Studio 2010 Microsoft includes a link to a free limited edition of InstallShield. Some of the other tools listed on this page can also be integrated in the Visual Studio IDE.

In June 2014 an Extension for Visual Studio 2013 was released to support Visual Studio Installer projects.

MSI Factory

Description from the company:
MSI Factory makes the task of creating professional installers faster, easier and hassle-free. What makes MSI Factory different is the unique file-centered design view. You aren’t forced to deal with the complexity of MSI database tables, sequences and components (unless you want to – MSI Factory is as flexible as you need it to be). Most developers simply drop in their application files, customize a few dialog boxes using the visual dialog editor and then click “build”. MSI Factory includes all the advanced installer capabilities you want, plus the next generation power of WiX, an intelligent development environment, a revolutionary fully scriptable .EXE bootstrap wrapper and access to world class technical support.

Manufacturer: Indigo Rose Corporation (Canada)
License: commercial
Status: Unknown, there's no information about release dates on the web site, current version is 2.1. Newest supported Windows version listed on the web site is Windows 7.

WWW Web Site

MSIStudio

Description from the company:
MSIStudio provides Windows setup developers with a powerful set of tools for creating installation packages. Developers can create fully functional and slick installers for their products quickly and easily. No scripting required, just pure Windows Installer compatible packages.

Manufacturer: Fastgrid Ltd (UK)
License: commercial
Status: Last release was in 2011, purchase link not working.

WWW Web Site

Nvn Installer

Naveen Hegde, the author of the NvnInstaller tools, is also available for freelance work. Please contact me via the feedback page and I'll forward your request to Naveen Hegde.

Description from the company:
Nvn Installer is a professional tool for creating great-looking installation packages. Installers made with Nvn Installer work on all Windows systems and are fully MSI compatible.
Nvn Installer has multi-language support, it can install prerequisites and also has a command line interface. Nvn Installer internally uses WiX toolset to generate MSI packages, and you can view and save Wix Code generated while building installation package.

Manufacturer: Naveen Hegde
License: free for non-commercial use, purchase required for commercial use
Status: Unknown, there's no information about release dates on the web site, last release was built in November 2013. Newest supported Windows version listed on the web site is Windows 7.

WWW Web Site

QSetup PRO [ Active ]

Description from the company:
QSetup PRO can produce setup files in the form of an MSI file as well as a traditional EXE file. Also the user can decide at anytime whether to generate an EXE or MSI installation from the same project definition. QSetup is unique in it's ability to create setup that will AUTO-UPDATE from the Internet when a new version of the program is available. QSetup PRO supports multilingual installations without the need to purchase additional language package.

Only the PRO edition includes MSI support. The Lite and Studio editions create non-MSI setups.

QSetup

Product information    Order QSetup PRO

Manufacturer: Pantaray Research
License: commercial
Status: Active, last release was in September 2014.

WWW Website

Qwerty.Msi

Description from the company:
Qwerty.Msi is designed to
Quickly learn about the installations created by other authors. Tool options such as Highlighting and GoTo enable you to gain the full knowledge of the installation building blocks and explore installation details in several straightforward steps. Try installations from different sources and you will certainly appreciate Windows Installer concept and performance.
Create and edit Windows Installer setup files. This tool lets you create your .msi files in the pure Windows Installer terms and the resulted file will contain entries that you have decided it must contain. Thus, the content as well as the behavior of your setup is always clear and predictable.
Debug Windows Installer setups. Embedded msi debugger helps you fix bugs and improve your setup package behavior.

Manufacturer: unknown
License: Freeware (last update: March 2005)
Status: Last release was in March 2005. According to the web site, the software was tested under Windows XP and Windows 2003 only.

WWW Web Site

SharpSetup [ Active ]

Description from the author:
SharpSetup is a framework and a set of tools that allows you to create complete application installer solutions for Windows platform using well established technologies like Visual Studio, .NET, C#, C++, Windows Forms, Windows Installer XML and MsBuild. It can be treated as a way to create flexible graphical user interface (GUI) for your Windows Installer XML (WiX) based installer quickly and easily, but it is much more than that.

Manufacturer: SharpSetup Systems (Poland)
License: Free and commercial editions
Status: Active. Latest stable release was in October 2013, latest beta release in August 2014.

WWW Web Site

War Setup

Description from the company:
War Setup is an application to make .msi software installation packages. It uses the free Wix toolset from Microsoft to build the .msi files. The target audience for this application is Software Developers. War Setup is designed to be very easy to use. It's the perfect install tool for the lazy Open Source developer. With built in support for Visual Studio C++ integration and the ability to add directories recursively, it's very easy to add software libraries and generated documentation to the install package. War Setup is also well suited to handle most install requirements for commercial software.

Manufacturer: Konsulent Jarle Aase (Norway)
License: Open Source
Status: Last release was in February 2009.

WWW Web Site

wItem Installer (formerly wItem Installer2Go) [ Maintenance ]

Description from the company:
wItem Installer (formerly wItem Installer2Go) is a powerful, easy to use, highly interactive tool for creating reliable Windows Installer packages that meet the Windows 2000/XP logo certification guidelines. Professional developers rely on Installer to quickly and easily create reliable MSI installation packages using the latest Microsoft technologies.
wItem Installer is script-free and does not require the user to have any programming background, nor does it require the user to learn any application-specific language! It allows you to use a point-and-click interface to create and manage installation projects based on your business needs. Besides that this tool will allow you to create self-extracting executable files for distribution over the Web, Internet, Intranet and e-mail your data files, graphic images or whatever else you want to distribute!

Note: On 18th September 2007 wItem Software acquired certain rights to distribute, maintain, and further develop Installer2Go. The development of Installer2Go was partially funded by wItem Software. In April 2009 the product was renamed to wItem Installer. The previous manufacturer, SDS Software, still sells an older version of Installer2Go, see above.

Note: wItem also offer a product named wItem Installer for Java to create MSI packages for Java applications.

Manufacturer: wItem Software (Russia)
License: Freeware / Commercial
Status: Last release adding new features was in November 2011, last maintenance release in April 2013

WWW Web Site

wItem Installer for Java

Description from the company:
Witem Installer for Java is a professional and easy-to-use tool which allows you to create reliable setup packages for Java applications for deployment on Windows platform. It doesn't require the Java developer have Windows Installer technology background. Intuitive user interface allows you to create professional installation packages in just a few minutes.

Note: wItem also offer a product named wItem Installer (formerly Installer2Go).

Manufacturer: wItem Software (Russia)
License: Freeware / Shareware
Status: Last release was in May 2006.

WWW Web Site

WiX (Windows Installer XML) toolset [ Active ]

The Windows Installer Xml (WiX) toolset is composed of a compiler, a linker, a lib tool and a decompiler. It generates MSI and MSM files from XML input. It doesn't include a GUI frontend to create the project files, but there are a couple of projects that plan to fill this gap. Votive, which is part of the WiX project, is a Visual Studio extension. It allows you to create "WiX projects" that act like any other project in a VS solution.
WiX was created by Rob Mensching, a Microsoft employee and former member of the MSI team, in his free time and released as open source. It is used by several teams inside Microsoft to create their setups.

Project Leader: Rob Mensching
License: Open Source
Status: Active. Approximately one or two stable releases per year plus several pre-release versions.

WWW Web Site

While WiX doesn't include an IDE, there are free and commercial IDEs that build upon WiX:

Read Rob Mensching's comments on some of the WiX editors.

Another approach to create a front end for WiX is Wix# (WixSharp). It's a syntax translator that translates from C# syntax into WiX syntax. Wix# at CodeProject.com

SharpSetup is a Visual Studio add-in to create a custom UI for your WiX based installer.

There are several other GUI projects for WiX registered onopen source platforms, but there's no active development going on, many are stuck in planning or pre-alpha stage: KHIX, WinWIX, WiXer, WiX GUI, WiXShield, wixstudio, WixTool, WixTool Red Edition (aka WixTool 2 by Sebastian Mark) , WiXTrim, WixWizzard. Search SourceForge.net for "wix" to get the latest list.
Nvin Installer (on Google Code) has been replaced by Nvn Installer.

WiXEdit

Description from the project page:
WixEdit is an editor for XML source code of the Windows Installer XML (WiX) toolset. WixEdit lets you create MSI and MSM setup packages with the WiX Toolset. It provides a visual representation of the dialogs and an easy way to edit the WiX source files.

Author: Jasper Keuper
License: Open Source
Status: Last release was in March 2011.

WWW Web Site

Inactive Open Source Projects

Several open source projects for MSI authoring tools have been started on SourceForge.net, but many of them have become inactive. There are also closed-source products where development has stalled before they have been released to manufacturing. Such projects are listed here only briefly:

Renamed, Replaced, and Discontinued Products

The following products have been renamed or replaced by successor products:

 

 

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