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Windows Installer Authoring Tools for Developers

This is a complete* list of tools for software developers (ISVs) to create setup programs that use Microsoft's "Windows Installer" technology, also known as "MSI". Not included in this list are tools in the following categories, which are listed on separate pages on InstallSite:

*Is a tool missing on this page? Let me know.

Microsoft Windows Installer SDK

Technically you don't need to buy a toolkit to build MSI packages - the required tools are available in Microsoft's Platform SDK. Even if you are using one of the tools listed below you should download the Windows Installer SDK as it includes the latest documentation from Microsoft and useful tools like Orca.

License: Free

WWW Microsoft Windows Installer SDK (Platform SDK download)
WWW Windows Installer in the MDSN Library (online documentation)

Advanced Installer

Description from the company:
Advanced Installer is a Windows Installer authoring tool which enables developers and system administrators to easily build and repackage complex applications into reliable, ready to deploy MSI and EXE installers, patches and on-line updates. It can also create install packages for Mac OS X in addition to MSI setups. The Architect includes support for Microsoft App-V and VMware ThinApp.
Uniquely focusing from its very beginnings on the ease of use, Advanced Installer is completely GUI-driven, with intuitive and simple access to all the powerful functionality it offers. Friendly wizards, smart assistants and re-packagers allow even non-experts to produce complete, valid and reliable installers in mere minutes, saving enterprises tens of thousands in training and implementation costs.
By using exclusively the industry standard Window Installer engine without proprietary scripting languages, and by carefully following its recommendations and best practices, Advanced Installer strives to create some of the cleanest, most correct MSI packages which effortlessly pass validation tests and logo certifications.
Advanced Installer is built on standard, open formats. Project files are XML, easily checked in source control systems. Multiple installer types can be defined to be built from a single project. Command-line mode operation allows integration in build scripts. Extensions always follow the Windows Installer recommendations and are provided in native modules for compliant, dependency-less installers.
Advanced Installer can import Inno Setup projects and can also create virtualized application packages for Microsoft App-V.
Advanced Installer is available in five editions, starting with the Freeware community edition and offering a 30-day trial period for the other editions.

Manufacturer: Caphyon LTD (Romania), Caphyon LLC (USA)
License: Freeware / Commercial
Status: Active, updates are being released almost monthly


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GERMAN This product is only available in German language

Beschreibung des Herstellers:
Der AKInstallerMSI richtet sich an Entwickler und Administratoren, die sich auf den weltweiten Standard der Windows Installer Technologie (MSI) verlassen und MSI, MSM oder MSIX-Pakete ausliefern müssen. Mit dem AKInstallerMSI erstellen Sie robuste MSI(X)-Pakete, welche sich auch über SMS / SCCM oder andere Produkte verteilen und automatisch in virtuellen Maschinen testen lassen. Das Programm bietet speziell für Administratoren die Möglichkeit der Software-Repaketierung und Überführung in das MSI-Format oder aber auch MSI(X)-Pakete einzulesen oder Transformationen zu erzeugen.

Hersteller: AKApplications (Deutschland)
Lizenz: Kommerziell

WWW Hersteller-Website


Description from the company:
Create a professional 32 or 64-bit Windows software installer in minutes. Make installers for any number of products or customers with a no-nonsense, one-time purchase. Automate each step of the build process. Code sign your applications and the installer itself.

Manufacturer: Excel Software USA)
License: commercial

WWW Website

FireGiant WiX (FG-WiX)

Description from the company:
FG-WiX is everything you love about open-source WiX with additional testing and validation—making it the most stable and most functional version of WiX available. FG-WiX is available exclusively to our Enterprise Support customers. Reduce risk by relying on a WiX build tested right here at FireGiant. Get WiX bug fixes right when you need them. Influence the direction of WiX itself with custom feature requests. 

Manufacturer: FireGiant (USA)
License: Commercial

WWW Web Site


See their web site for Information.

InstallConstruct [ Inactive ]

Description from the company:
Creating packages for setup and file delivery on all Windows platforms is made simple with InstallConstruct. With the step-by-step interface, you can create simple or advanced installers quickly, without time-consuming training or complex technical manuals. The latest release (6.5) also lets you create or rewrap your program as Windows Installer (MSI) with Elevated Privileges.
InstallConstruct gives you all the tools you need to create sophisticated installers easily. Select from one of the package formats, and create an easy-to-assemble installer or setup package with only the components you want to use. Customize the look with colors, fonts and graphics, edit the Windows Registry, create icons, Program Groups, Uninstallers and more - with the easy-to-understand wizard interface.
Included with the program are sample message scripts for English, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. You may use them "as is" to distribute your package in these languages or you may customize or edit it the way you like it.

Manufacturer: FileStream, Inc. (USA)
License: Commercial
Status: After almost 3 years without new releases, a new version was published in November 2016, but nothing since then.

WWW Web Site


Description from the company:
Consistent and reliable installs. Every time. With InstallShield, you’ll adapt to industry changes quickly, get to market faster and deliver an engaging customer experience.
The result? Productivity: up. Extra scripting/coding/rework: way down with simpler and cleaner installs, upgrades and uninstalls.
Revenera InstallShield (formerly Flexera InstallShield) is the fastest easiest way to build Windows installers and MSIX packages and create installations directly within Microsoft Visual Studio.
Available in Premier and Professional Editions.


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"Powerful, mature product from the market leader"

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Manufacturer: Revenera (USA). Previous company names include Flexera Software, Acresso, Macrovision and InstallShield Software Corp.
License: Commercial

WWW Web Site


Description from the company:
If you use Orca, you will love InstEd. If you use some of the more expensive tools, you may find that InstEd makes you more productive for the bread and butter packaging tasks.

InstEd was previously sold by Camwood Ltd. under the name appEditor.

Manufacturer: (Australia)
License: Freeware
Status: Last release was in April 2012, but given the nature of the tool new versions would only be required if Microsoft made significant changes to MSI.

Note: The commercial síbling product InstEd Plus with additional features can no longer be purchased.

WWW Web Site


Description from the author:
IsWiX is a Windows Installer XML (WiX) document editor. It enables non-setup developers to collaborate with setup developers using WiX projects.

Project Leader: Christopher Painter
License: Open Source

WWW Web Site


Description from the author:
izfree is a collection of free tools for authoring Windows Installer .MSI installation databases. izfree is designed for use in conjunction with the Orca database editor included in the Platform SDK.
izfree, formerly known as 'msidb', automates some tasks specific to the authoring of MSI installation database files with Orca. Orca provides a basic way to edit database tables, but doesn't create them automatically. izfree automates the following tasks:

izfree assumes that you are already familiar with Windows Installer and the MSI SDK documentation. If you are completely new to Windows Installer, you might want to start with Visual Studio Installer and experiment with creating some simple installations and examining the msi with Orca.

Author: Rich Thomson, Microsoft MVP for DirectX and MSI
License: Open Source
Status: Last release was in 2001, but given the nature of the tool new versions would only be required if Microsoft made significant changes to MSI.

WWW Web Site


Description from the author:
MAKEMSI is a freeware tool which allows you to quickly and automatically create MSI based installers. Once set up subsequent rebuilds take minutes and in general require no MSI skills. MAKEMSI can actually build or update any Windows Installer database types, for example ICE validation suites or merge modules. It is the simplest tool available for MSI automation.
MAKEMSI should be considered as a replacement for anyone who currently manually builds or updates MSIs with table editing tools such as ORCA. Its main purposes are to consistently produce (or edit) MSIs in a simple manner and without user interaction. It promotes reuse and can gather required information from virtually anywhere (such as SQL databases or text files).
MAKEMSI includes a number of useful tools including one to dump or compare Windows Installer databases (an "MSI to TEXT" utility). The output (see see sample) is in a human readable format (unlike that of all other tool I have seen). The output can also be understood by MAKEMSI! Other tools include easy MD5 and Windows Installer GUID generation.

Author: Dennis Bareis
License: Freeware

WWW Web Site

Master Packager

Description from the company:
Master Packager is an application packaging tool to create and edit Microsoft Windows Installer (MSI) files and repackage other installation to MSI format.
Our vision is to make application packaging easy, fast and affordable that is accessible to everyone from application packager freelancer, small company and enterprises.

Manufacturer: Master Packager Ltd.
License: free and paid versions available

WWW Website

Microsoft Visual Studio

There are multiple options for creating Windows Installer setups with Visual Studio:

Setup & Deployment Projects / Visual Studio Installer

Starting with version 2003, Visual Studio (Professional Edition and higher) included a Deployment project type that creates MSI packages. For Visual Studio 6 Microsoft offers Visual Studio Installer with similar functionality as a free download. However Visual Studio does not expose all the Windows Installer functionality.

With the release of Visual Studio 2010 Microsoft announced that Visual Studio Installer will be retired in favor of InstallShield Limited Edition. Here's the announcement that was posted in Microsoft's ClickOnce and Setup & Deployment Projects forum:

Retirement of Visual Studio Installer Projects from future versions of Visual Studio
Candy Chiang MSFT Thursday, July 15, 2010 8:07 PM

In Visual Studio 2010, we have partnered with Flexera, makers of InstallShield, to create InstallShield Limited Edition 2010 just for Visual Studio 2010 customers. The InstallShield Limited Edition 2010 offers comparable functionality to the Visual Studio Installer projects. In addition, you can build your deployment projects using Team Foundation Server and MSBuild. For more information, see

With InstallShield available, the Visual Studio Installer project types will not be available in future versions of Visual Studio. To preserve existing customer investments in Visual Studio Installer projects, Microsoft will continue to support the Visual Studio Installer projects feature that shipped with Visual Studio 2010 and below as per our product life-cycle strategy. For more information, see Expanded Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy for Business & Development Products.

License: Retail product, part of Visual Studio

WWW Microsoft Visual Studio Installer home page
WWW Visual Studio Installer Documentation

Add-Ins for Visual Studio

Starting with Visual Studio 2010 Microsoft includes a link to a free limited edition of InstallShield. Some of the other tools listed on this page can also be integrated in the Visual Studio IDE.

In June 2014 an Extension for Visual Studio 2013 was released to support Visual Studio Installer projects.

MSI Factory

Description from the company:
MSI Factory makes the task of creating professional installers faster, easier and hassle-free. What makes MSI Factory different is the unique file-centered design view. You aren’t forced to deal with the complexity of MSI database tables, sequences and components (unless you want to – MSI Factory is as flexible as you need it to be). Most developers simply drop in their application files, customize a few dialog boxes using the visual dialog editor and then click “build”. MSI Factory includes all the advanced installer capabilities you want, plus the next generation power of WiX, an intelligent development environment, a revolutionary fully scriptable .EXE bootstrap wrapper and access to world class technical support.

Manufacturer: Indigo Rose Corporation (Canada)
License: commercial

WWW Web Site

Nvn Installer [ Inactive ]

Description from the company:
Nvn Installer is a professional tool for creating great-looking installation packages. Installers made with Nvn Installer work on all Windows systems and are fully MSI compatible.
Nvn Installer has multi-language support, it can install prerequisites and also has a command line interface. Nvn Installer internally uses WiX toolset to generate MSI packages, and you can view and save Wix Code generated while building installation package.

Manufacturer: Naveen Hegde
License: Open source
Status: Unknown, there's no information about release dates on the web site, last release was built in November 2013. In February 2018 the project has been made open source with no activity since then.

WWW Web Site

PACE Suite

Description from the manufacturer:
PACE Suite is a fast and easy-to-use software packaging tool for MSI authoring, creation and editing of virtual packages (App-V, ThinApp), automation of routine tasks, creation of documentation and installation instructions. PACE Suite can create packages from scratch or repackage EXEs

Manufacturer: Infopulse (Ukraine)
License: Commercial

WWW Web Site

QSetup PRO

Description from the company:
QSetup PRO can produce setup files in the form of an MSI file as well as a traditional EXE file. Also the user can decide at anytime whether to generate an EXE or MSI installation from the same project definition. QSetup is unique in it's ability to create setup that will AUTO-UPDATE from the Internet when a new version of the program is available. QSetup PRO supports multilingual installations without the need to purchase additional language package.

Only the PRO edition includes MSI support. The Lite and Studio editions create non-MSI setups.

Manufacturer: Pantaray Research
License: commercial

WWW Website

WiX (Windows Installer XML) Toolset

The Windows Installer XML (WiX) toolset is composed of a compiler, a linker, a lib tool and a decompiler. It generates MSI and MSM files from XML input. It doesn't include a GUI frontend to create the project files, but there are a couple of projects that plan to fill this gap. Votive, which is part of the WiX project, is a Visual Studio extension. It allows you to create "WiX projects" that act like any other project in a VS solution.
WiX was created by Rob Mensching, at the time a Microsoft employee and former member of the MSI team, in his free time and released as open source. It is used by several teams inside Microsoft to create their setups.
After leaving Microsoft, Rob co-founded FireGiant, a company offering services, an Expansion Pack and a commercial version of WiX.

Project Leader: Rob Mensching
License: Open Source

WWW Web Site

See also:

While WiX doesn't include an IDE, there are free and commercial IDEs that build upon WiX:

Read Rob Mensching's comments on some of the WiX editors.

A couple of GUI projects for WiX have been started on open source platforms, but there's no active development going on, many are stuck in planning or pre-alpha stage: KHIX, WinWIX, WiXer, WiX GUI, WiXShield, wixstudio, WixTool, WixTool Red Edition (aka WixTool 2 by Sebastian Mark) , WiXTrim, WixWizzard. Search for "wix" to get the latest list.
Nvin Installer (on Google Code) has been replaced by Nvn Installer.

Another approach to create a front end for WiX is Wix# (WixSharp). It's a syntax translator that translates from C# syntax into WiX syntax.
WWW Web Site


Description from the project page:
WixEdit is an editor for XML source code of the Windows Installer XML (WiX) toolset. WixEdit lets you create MSI and MSM setup packages with the WiX Toolset. It provides a visual representation of the dialogs and an easy way to edit the WiX source files.

Author: Jasper Keuper
License: Open Source
Status: Last release was in March 2011, but development activity resumed in early 2018 on GitHub

WWW Web Site


Description from the company:
Creating windows installers with the WiX Toolset can be a challenge but with WixPie it doesn't have to be. WixPie is the tool to create and edit your files and only focus on what you want to achieve.

Manufacturer: WixPie
License: free and commercial

WWW Website

Xeam Visual Installer

Xeam Visual Installer is a bootstrapper to add an advanced UI to setups that are created with the WiX  Toolset.

Description from the company:
Next Generation Installation Experience with animated UI based on WPF, based on WiX Toolset technology. No need to change your existing MSI's. Visual Installer is a bootstrapper to build on top of them. Extended UI and end user help features like IIS configuration, system check. Integrated in Visual Studio, easy to use: Add you existing MSI or setups -> adjust configuration -> done!

Manufacturer: xeam (Germany)
License: Commercial

Product videos are available on YouTube

WWW Manufacturer Web Site

Inactive Open Source Projects

Several open source projects for MSI authoring tools have been started on, but many of them have become inactive. There are also closed-source products where development has stalled before they have been released to manufacturing. Such projects are listed here only briefly:

Renamed, Replaced, and Discontinued Products

The following products have been renamed or replaced by successor products:



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