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\->Windows Installer FAQ (the basics)->Components

Windows Installer Basics: Components

A Windows Installer "component" is the smallest installation unit (all or none of the "contents" is installed).

Components and their attributes are stored in the "Component" table and each component is assigned to one or more features.

The MAKEMSI "component" command can be used to create, update or refer to components and other MAKEMSI commands can automatically create components.

You can have any number of files per component (windows installer component rules do place some restrictions on you) that you wish however all of these files must install into the same destination directory.

Validation errors will result if you combine per-user and per-machine "items" in a single component and this makes perfect sense (however Windows Installer's definition of these sometimes doesn't - at least in certain contexts).

One of the most important attributes of a component is its keypath.

One of the reasons you would put files or registry into different components is because they need to be treated differently.

Components are also used to control the activation of other things such as service manipulations. The "condition" of a component is used to determine if the action should be performed.

There are limitations on the component name, have a look at error code "2716".

Links to Component Related Pages

Some other component related pages are available at:


Microsoft awarded me an MVP (Most Valuable Professional award) in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009 for the Windows SDK (Windows Installer) area.Please email me any feedback, additional information or corrections.
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Microsoft awarded me an MVP (Most Valuable Professional award) in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009 for the Windows SDK (Windows Installer) area.