The Advanced Installer is 20 years old and as practical as ever

Written by Guillaume
Publication date: {{ dayjs(1710418102*1000).local().format("L").toString()}}
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Often perceived simply as "a means to an end", an installer is a key step in software design.

Useful to developers and IT administrators alike, Advanced Installer is clearly not the only software in its category. However, it has been one of the benchmarks for package creation and application deployment for many years. Its primary objective is to simplify the lives of all those who, at some point in their "tech" lives, have needed or will need to share one or more of their own applications. To achieve this, it relies on the MSIX format, which its creators sum up with the catchphrase " package once, deploy anywhere ". Advanced Installer was one of the pioneers of this format, introduced at the time of Windows 10, which was Microsoft's partner for the launch of MSIX.

Advanced Installer not only introduces MSIX, it also enables its precise configuration, while of course allowing MSI and MSIX packages to be generated at the same time, on the same project, to make work easier. From the Advanced Installer interface, you can directly create an MSIX package project and choose its constituent elements, from the files concerned, of course, to the registry, including visual resources, defined functionalities, COMs... Better still, Advanced Installer authorizes the creation of an MSIX file from another type of installer: so you can convert an EXE or any other supported type with the greatest of ease. And, of course, it's also possible to convert the good old MSI format to MSIX.

Developer interface © Advanced Installer

Over time, Advanced Installer has of course been enriched by a host of new options, of which Visual Studio integration is just one. The idea here is to enable the creation of an installation package directly from Visual Studio, using the official Advanced Installer extension. This can be done from any version of Advanced Installer... even the freeware version, and Visual Studio support starts with version 2010 and ends with the latest. While we're on the subject of versions, it's obvious that Advanced Installer wasn't going to stay stuck on Windows 10, and the teams were among the first to support Windows 11: an upgrade that went hand in hand with an overhaul of the user interface, which is more modern and practical.

This is one of the strengths of Advanced Installer, which benefits from a truly welcoming interface where the different types of projects are clearly identified with specific templates (Visual Studio, .NET, SharePoint...) to simplify as well as speed up the work of creating the installer. At DriversCloud, we really appreciate this interface, as well as the ability to request assistance via the help menu. We're even more appreciative of the little subtleties that make life so much easier, such as the choice of language, essential for international distribution, or the ability to customize things with various themes and a powerful WYSIWYG editor.

Interface dedicated to IT pros © Advanced Installer

Of course, Advanced Installer is an up-to-the-minute tool, and cloud functionalities have not been forgotten. For example, you can package and deploy "classic" desktop applications as well as web applications that will be published on sites managed by Microsoft Azure. In the same vein, collaborative work is simplified by Advanced Installer's integrated repository manager, which enables profiles and project templates to be shared, so that the whole development team is "on the ball".

Last but not least, Advanced Installer offers extensive payment options. For smaller developers who simply want to get a feel for the product, a freeware version - already very comprehensive - is available. Then there's the option of joining one of three levels of annual subscription, or opting for one of three categories of perpetual license per user. In either case, features are added as the price rises. Classic. What's more, the license is royalty-free, so you can distribute your installers without additional payment.