Sunday, November 21, 2010

MSI Explorer - A quick and simple means to spelunk MSI’s

sateesh-arveti - MSI Explorer

“Most of us are quite familiar in creating MSI or Setup for our applications. By using a MSI, we can make sure all dependencies for running the application will be placed properly. MSI is the best option available on Windows OS for packaging and distributing our application. For .NET developers, Visual Studio presents lot of features in creating setup and deployment projects for our application. But, there are no built-in tools in Visual Studio to look into the MSI contents. And that too, to make a small change in MSI, it requires rebuilding the entire Setup Project. So, I think it's better to design an application that will analyze the MSI and give the details of it along with capability of updating it without rebuilding.

Features present in this application:

  • It allows us to look into the contents of the MSI.
  • It allows us to export the contents of the MSI.
  • It allows us to update commonly changing properties without rebuilding it.
  • Easy to use UI.
  • Now, Updating an MSI is quite simple


While Orca has been around for like a billion years or so (since about when MSI’s were introduced) it’s not the easiest tool to find, download and use. (o get the official version you have to download the entire Microsoft Windows SDK (493 MB), install that, etc, etc.

That’s what I really liked about the MSI Explorer, how easy it was to download and run. Just download the ZIP, unzip it, and assuming you have the .Net framework installed, run the EXE. Done. No install,  no fuss, no muss. Quick, simple, easy and priced just right, free.

Snap of the ZIP’s contents;


The app running (with the IE9 Platform Preview 4 MSI open);




Related Past Post XRef:
Don’t Orca it, InstEd It! – MSI editing made simpler, easier and still free
Windows Installer PowerShell Snap-In – Getting MSI data via PowerShell
How do you turn on Logging/Log Files when installing an MSI? Oh yeah, /L or via the Registry…
InstallSite: Windows Installer Tools and Tips


Saul said...

The download link got lost somehow.

Greg said...

It's there... Click through to the original article and the download link is at the bottom of the page.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Greg, I cannot find the download link, Gruß Heiner

Greg said...

Go to the original post <a href=">MSI Explorer</a>, scroll to the bottom of the post, right above the comments, and look for the "MSI" link (there's an folder icon for it too).