we are building .exe installations with InstallShield. Some customers need msi files for thier software distribution. Since the .msi files do not cover the whole functionality of the .exe installers (perequisites, drivers, 3rd party) we have to deliver a various number of .msi files for the customers, one for each 'product'.

So we think it would be easier to wrap the .exe installion with an .msi file. I know InstallAware does it this way and also a lot of tools are available in the net that are doing the job.

Can somebody recommend one of these tools?

What do you think in general of such a trojan horse .msi file? Is it okay for software distribution?
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  • If your customers want MSIs (no apostrophe, please! It's a plural!) why not give them MSIs? Your pre-reqs, drivers and 3rd-party stuff can be rolled into MSIs, an exercise which would be no more messy than what you're proposing.
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interesting dilemma.

You should be able to create a silent installation of the EXE with all the pre reqs so your customers can deploy it. Find out if they want MSI's to install, or just the ability to do it silently. Most want silent with a preference of MSI, but if its an EXE and silent that is fine. If they are deploying with GPOs they would need MSI's, but not may people use that now.

You could chain the MSI's (messy) or go down the route of Microsoft Office and  the Adobe suites, and have XML driven multiple MSI installations. In essence you can do that with InstallShield that you already have.

I don't like the idea of wrapping exes in MSI's. I have seen people do that when they are 'packaging'. I think its a little bit dishonest, it doesn't have to be, but the way I see it used, it is. If the MSI is going to install the EXE it must do it silently, why not just give the switches to be used by a deployment tool. Then its nice and easy. You don't then have to hide the MSI install from AddRemove Programs etc. (otherwise you have two entries for the installs). I also see people getting stuck in the MSI CustomAction, I think its more complicated that what is needed.

I think the thing to focus on is silent installs so its nice and easy.

Answered 02/05/2015 by: Badger
Red Belt

  • Thanks for you answer. I totally agree with your thoughts. But I can only tell what the requirements are: "We need MSI packages".
    Maybe it is also a communication problem because the requirements go through our resellers and project managers and product managers and finally end up in my office. So I think it could be a good idea to talk to the end customer dirctly, from me, the setup developer to the software deployment administrator on the other end. Maybe it is like you say, they just need a silent install.
    • yep, I agree with that. Just check with them and confirm the requirements. I think you find out they will need silent installs. Good luck
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