MAKEMSI quickly and reliably creates MSI files in a non-programmatic way
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Have your say! Join the MAKEMSI discussion list or view archive! Suggest improvements. No question too simple or too complex.
\->Building or Updating MSIs->Repackaging - Converting an EXE to MSI->Setup Capture

Setup Capture

Setup Capture is the most dangerous form of repackaging and so in general should only be used if you have not managed to get the "Wrap Existing Installers" approach to work for the product. The fact that most people do this first is "scarey" to say the least (WinInstall 2003 etc).

Generally the process taking a shapshot of the current state of a computer, running an install and determining the differences. This whole process is generally mostly automated with little control or evaluation of the result. This is typically done by people who have insufficient knowledge of Windows (or parts of it) to determine where the dangers are.

The main dangers are:

To mimimise the danger you must start on a "clean" system so as not to miss the capture of critical information (probably files or registry entries). Although as implied above this can have its own issues.

You will probably also wish to test the generated MSI on multiple operating systems and many configurations, probably the easiest way of doing this is with virtual machines.

Where an installer is so crappy I can't reliably wrap it, I generally try to "recreate the setup", this is basically a process of reverse engineering the installation process and can involve setup/capture and all or some of the dangers above. You generally put enough thought into it to eliminate the most likely issues.

For complex applications (or if you don't have the skills) you may wish to use another installer tool to handle these requirements.

Links to Repackaging/Unattended Operation Resources

Some external resources which may have specific information about the product you wish to repackage are:


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.