This post is a little different from the usual how-to or (lite) software review. This is the result of a decent amount of time spent researching the topic of converting Setup.exe (executables) into .MSI files so that they can be easily deployed and managed through Group Policy.
Where I’m at currently with this project is that I first tried WinInstall 2003LE and successfully created an MSI that worked on the first try. It was a very intuitive process and worked out really well. I’ll be creating another post soon with step-by-step instructions on creating an MSI from Firefox 3.0.1’s setup.exe. I have deployed this msi in a number of test locations around my organization and am planning on deploying it to the entire organization over the upcoming weekend.
I’m currently using WinInstall 2003LE with ORCA MSI Editor to review it. Here’s the collection of links I was able to condense through my research. Hope it saves you some time and points you in promising directions.
WinInstall 2003LE – This software has a long, convoluted history as far as I can tell. Getting bought out by different companies multiple times, the software WinInstall 2000 was originally shipped with Windows Server 2000 to allow repacking of Setup executables into .msi’s. Long story short, the LE edition is still free and available through Scalable, though they require you to register before downloading. The direct link to the download button here might work for a while and save you from having to register.
Free MSI Editor Utility:
ORCA MSI Editor – Free Utility to look at the internals of MSI packages. Helpful to review where registry keys and files are going and understand the MSI process.
WISE Installation Express 7
Advanced Installer – The components of this package related to MSI repackaging are only available as trials despite the freeware title. The Repackager component requires the Professional license but has a trial that shows it operates a lot like WinInstall 2003LE but with a little better interface. There is an MSI editor that is also a trial and seems to be a little more thorough than Orca MSI Editor. It puts a little note when launching the resulting MSI that it was created with a trial and is for evaluation purpose only.
Inno Setup – Package your install files into a single .exe (NOT .MSI)
Related Microsoft KB articles:
Overview of Windows Installer Technology
Post in the comments if you know any other alternatives that are worth listing or any poor experiences that you want to warn others away from.