Windows Installer

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Windows Installer

Microsoft Windows
Basic data

developer Microsoft Corporation
Current  version 5.0
(October 22, 2009)
operating system Windows 7, Server 2008 R2 (older versions: Windows Vista, Server 2008, XP, Server 2003)
category Installer
License Proprietary

The Windows Installer (formerly Microsoft Installer ) provides a runtime environment for installation routines under Microsoft Windows operating systems. It consists of a Windows system service that can interpret, extract and execute package files in msi format (Microsoft Software Installation) and files with the file extensions mst for transform files and msp for patches.

The table format of the installation files makes it possible to edit or adapt these packages with different programs .

Another benefit of using Windows Installer technology is that it can be repaired. When starting a program installed by it, the Windows Installer service monitors whether all associated components are present. If one of these components is missing, the Windows Installer tries to reinstall it. This process can also be triggered if the setup routine is executed again - the installer then offers the user a repair (as well as an uninstallation).

MSI packages

MSI is the abbreviation for M icro S often I installers to. There are manufacturers who provide editors for MSI files, such as B. Flexera Software with the product InstallShield . Other products include Advanced Installer from Caphyon, Wise Installer from Symantec, AKInstallerMSI from AKApplications and InstallAware from InstallAware Software Corporation. The Microsoft Visual Studio (from version 2002) development environments also allow the creation of Windows Installer packages to a limited extent. The development environment Visual InterDev could be upgraded with the Microsoft Windows 2000 Developers Readiness Kit so that as early as 1999 it was possible to create MSI installation packages in the development environment.

There is also free software such as Makemsi and WiX from Microsoft to create such installation packages. Both create MSI packages based on a description of the package in a text file. Makemsi uses its own macro language, WiX uses an XML- based description. From version 3.0 WiX is supported in Visual Studio 2010. Intelli-Sense for XML files is offered as well as the ability to compile and link. Nevertheless, in-depth knowledge is required to create installations with WiX.

Necessity and commitment

An installation solution that completely takes over the configuration of the installed software with a wizard from the package is only necessary in Windows of all known, current operating systems. Up until the appearance of Microsoft Office 2000, there was no in-house facility for configuring software, so that the software package delivered is only "transformed" into a ready-to-use version on the target computer. Starting with Windows Vista , which reports every intervention in the operating system configuration, the installation process is interrupted by the user account control if the setup requires higher rights. In this case, the installation was canceled under previous systems.

MSI files are relational databases whose tables contain binary / text data that represent control instructions for the installation. These databases are then managed by the operating system together with the settings made during installation. The software package itself can be stored in the database, but it is also possible to just store references to the files. No dependencies on other software packages can be expressed. The system service was introduced with Microsoft Office 2000 , whose setup installed and used the service for the first time. Since Windows 2000 , the technology has been fully integrated into the Microsoft operating systems.

Dissemination and use

The operating system-supported, table-driven installation for Windows has not yet been able to establish itself to an acceptable extent with most (smaller) software providers. While smaller providers are starting to use free, script-controlled programs such as NSIS or Inno Setup , both programs that are independent of the Windows Installer, larger corporations use the quasi-industry standard InstallShield , which in addition to Windows Installer support also has its own runtime environment.


MSI files are executed through the command line using msiexec /i setup-dateiname.msior double-clicking on the file name. The installed version and optional parameters of the Windows Installer are called with msiexec(»Start → Run«). The "msiexec.exe" file that is executed is located in the Windows "System32" folder and, on 64-bit systems, also as a 32-bit version in the "SysWOW64" folder.


version Delivered with Can be used with
1.0 Office 2000 -
1.1 Windows 2000 Windows 95 / 98 / NT 4.0 SP6
1.2 Windows Me -
2.0 Windows XP RTM / SP1, Windows 2000 SP3, Windows Server 2003 Windows 95/98 / Me / NT 4.0 SP6 / 2000 under SP3
3.0 Windows XP SP2 Windows 2000 SP3 / SP4, Windows XP RTM / SP1, Windows Server 2003
3.1 Windows Server 2003 SP1, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Windows XP SP3 Windows 2000 SP3 / SP4, Windows XP RTM / SP1 / SP2, Windows Server 2003
4.0 Windows Vista , Windows Server 2008 -
4.5 Unscheduled publication Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows XP SP2 and newer, and Windows Server 2003 SP1 and newer
5.0 Windows 7 , Windows 8 and Windows 10 , Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008 SP2, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2
5.0 SP1 Unscheduled publication comes later Windows 7 64-bit, Windows Server 2008 64-bit R2, Windows Vista 64-bit SP2, Windows Server 2008 SP2, Windows Home Server, Windows XP 64-bit Edition, Windows XP Pro x64 SP2, Windows Server 2003 ia64 SP2, Windows Server x64 SP2, Windows XP Pro x86 SP3, Windows Server 2003 x86, Windows 2000 Pro x86 SP3

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Released Versions of Windows Installer
  2. What's New in Windows Installer 4.5