MSI (Microsoft Installer) is, meanwhile, the de-facto standard for installing Windows programs. It is advisable to only use this format in order to keep the Windows Installer database of installed products consistent. If your software deployment solution doesn't allow you to create MSI files, you have to use a third party tool. Usually, these tools are called MSI packagers. Sometimes you'll also find "MSI repackagers" since they are used to re-create the original installation package. This post lists several MSI packagers.

Windows Installer is an application installation and configuration tool which was first introduced with Windows 2000. You can find msiexec.exe under C:\windows\system32. The latest version for Windows XP is Windows Installer 3.1 v2. Windows Vista will be delivered with Windows Installer 4.0. Windows Installer uses MSI packages, which are databases containing all information that is necessary to install an application.

Nowadays, many software vendors deliver their applications as MSI packages. Usually, you can recognize them by the MSI extension. Sometimes, the setup program is an EXE file which contains the compressed MSI file. Most software deployment solutions support MSI meanwhile.

Some still have their own packing format as an additional option, though. Even Microsoft's Systems Management Server 2003 was originally delivered with its own packaging format. There is a free MSI packager for SMS 2003 now, which is a limited edition of FLExnet Adminstudio.

The list here contains all MSI packagers, I found, so far. Please let me know if you know of another tool. I'll add it then.

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Update: I just found this site which lists many more MSI packagers with a short description for each.

  1. Gary 16 years ago

    And another good one I would recommend is Desktop Authority MSI Studio

  2. Michael Pietroforte 16 years ago

    Gary, thanks for the tip. I added it to the list.

  3. JT 14 years ago

    Would be kind of nice to have a review of at least the freeware versions. I’ve seen some of Macrovision and Wise since they’re the big ones and used in corporations and “for hire” packaging shops.

    I’m interested in using some for utility like game map packs or other small utilities that make it easy to uninstall and stay with the MSI tech.

    Just a thought. 🙂 I’ll be doing some testing on my own as well.

  4. Igor 14 years ago

    Let me suggest another tool: EMCO MSI Package Builder

  5. Silu 12 years ago

    I have a query>>>

    Is it possible to create a package with the idea of taking a backup(certain files) from a particular location and then deploy the new files(files with same name in the package) to that location???

  6. DR 8 years ago

    There is also another great solution for (re-)packaging work of MSI/ MST and also supports virtual formats like app-V and ThinApp –> RayPack. Here you can find a feature overview and a link for free trial version

  7. VG 6 years ago

    Anyone reading it in 2016: check for software packaging, repackaging, and virtualization. Really easy to use, cheaper than most of the alternatives.

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