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EMCO MSI Package Builder allows the busy IT professional to bypass the hassle associated with application deployment. If your organization does not have access to a client management suite such as SCCM, native software deployment is limited to MSI and ZAP files. For instance, Group Policy Software Installation only supports MSI packages.
As you’re probably aware, many application vendors distribute their software in Microsoft’s installer package format MSI. Having access to an EXE-to-MSI converter makes a world of difference. Let’s look at EMCO MSI Package Builder and see how it can help.
EMCO MSI Package Builder with a now-familiar ribbon UI
Main functions ^
EMCO MSI Package Builder can accomplish four main tasks:
- Create MSI packages from scratch.
- Convert EXE files to MSI packages.
- Edit existing MSIs, including making pre/post installation changes.
- Prepare MSIs for silent deployment with Group Policy or other tools.
Creating MSI packages is done through monitoring the installation. When doing this, you will want to use a clean virtual machine. This ensures that unnecessary file and registry changes are filtered out and allows you to use snapshots for MSI testing. This is accomplished through the Start Monitoring Capture button in the screenshot above.
Converting an EXE can be done through monitoring the installation or installation wrapping (more on that in a bit). Editing an existing MSI is done through the Decompile MSI Package option. This allows you to see the exact changes the MSI makes and to edit file/registry settings contained within the package.
Editing the registry for a decompiled MSI
EMCO MSI Package Builder comes in two editions: Professional and Enterprise. The Enterprise edition offers five extra features (one of which makes for a very compelling case to upgrade). The differences are:
- Creation, capture, and editing of services (useful for driver deployments)
- Creation and capture of environment variables
- Conditional creation/deletion of environment variables
- Ability to edit existing environment variables
- Installation wrapping
Installation wrapping ^
Have you ever wanted to take an EXE and just embed it into an MSI? That is what installation wrapping allows you to do. To me, this is the one feature that makes the difference between the two versions.
When you first launch EMCO MSI Packager Builder Enterprise, you will be prompted by the Repackage Installation wizard. This wizard allows you to either monitor an installation or select an EXE for installation wrapping.
The Repackage Installation wizard in EMCO MSI Package Builder Enterprise
As an example, I will wrap the 7-Zip EXE into an MSI. Even though 7-Zip already has an MSI installation, the small EXE package size makes for a good example. After you select your EXE, give the package a name and define the install parameters. In the screenshot below, I added /S to force 7-Zip to install silently. If your EXE requires other installation files, you can add those under the Additional Package Files section.
Modifying the Wrapped Package Properties for 7-Zip
As you continue through the Installation Wrapping wizard, you can add additional properties to your new MSI. For example, you can require a reboot, specify an upgrade, or change the default installation behavior (current user versus all users). Save your package, and you now have an EXE wrapped up into an MSI!
Changing the MSI installation properties for the 7-Zip package
EMCO MSI Package Builder solves many of the software issues that plague system administrators. The tool can repackage software, wrap EXEs into an MSI, and edit existing packages. When paired with a remote installation tool such as Group Policy Software Installation, you can deploy any application.