InstallShield vs Advanced Installer
I have been using the Free version Advanced Installer for quite some time to create MSI packages. However, I am running into many scenarios where I need more functionality in my MSI's. File deletion, upgrade/patch installations, repackaging EXE's as MSI's, etc. I have played around with both products. Advanced Installer Enterprise provides a lot of what I need, but am looking for some other opinions. I will be creating installation packages for ThinApp, Sharepoint, and SCCM 2012 deployments. My biggest confusion is the fuzzy line between products that Flexera offers. Do I need Installshield or AdminStudio which includes Installshield. Can I justify the price differences between the 2 products? What can InstallShield/AdminStudio offer me that Advanced Installer cannot? Figured I would ask the awesome community of professionals here first; before getting fondled by their sales teams..again.
I have no experience with Advanced Installer, so I won't get into the comparison, but I do know you need Adminstudio, not just Installshield, to have access to the SetupCapture tool. It used to be even you needed Adminstudio Professional or higher, but that might have changed with the latest version
I just came across this post, and even if it is quite old I would like to add my own experience,as I’m working with both tools for years.
Since a while you need to license Advanced Installer Architect Edition to have the option for doing repackaging. The price is about 2.700,- € (6M maintenance), incl. the option to create virtual formats like App-V or ThinApp. Admin Studio Standard(12M maintenance) is about 3.700,- €, without application virtualisation support.
BTW … there are no extra costs for Advanced Installer for packaging providers, this means you can use an Advanced Installer licenses to create packages for other companies – an interesting point for freelancers.
AdvancedInstaller is definitely up to date with all major develop technologies, so it can create Silver Light or SharePoint setups, I already mentioned App-V 4.x and 5.x and ThinApp, it can create Mac formats as well, and of course MSIs.
AI supports adding users and groups, quite sophisticated and easy to use ways of clean-up scenarios(by using a wizard), and ways to change (! – not just overwriting like it happens using the MSI LockPermissions table) permissions on Registry and/or Files/Folders. AI can easily import Wise Package Studio projects! It integrates with SCCM and supports virtual machine scenarios for repackaging and testing. And many more.
What makes it very efficient for repackaging scenarios are clever solutions for this scenario, e.g. the option to create “noise scans” (called “Exclusion List” in Wise), clever ways of adding new exclusions from within the MSI editor, customising several repackaging templates, and many more nice things.
An important thing to mention is the option to automate many functionalities via command line options! This is similar to the Wise Package Studios “macros” feature. This option is very useful for packaging provider that need to package for different customers, that require different “brandings” or other pre-defined package settings. These things can easily be automated.
There are plenty of useful features, and many of them are implemented using wizards that are easy to use and help avoiding doing mistakes.
I personally like the user interface of Advanced Installer more than this old fashioned style of InstallShield, but this is only my personal opinion. If you were used working with Wise Package Studio you feel comfortable using AI within a view hours.
So if someone reads between the lines that I’m a fan of Advanced Installer: True ;-).
On the other side Admin Studio. It supports a lot but not all of the features from Advanced Installer. The handling … well … I never got very happy with it.
If it’s all about doing packing/re-packaging I definitely would prefer Advanced Installer. And from my experience 9 out of 10 customers do exactly need this functionality, and nothing more.
I see advantages for Admin Studio when it comes to packaging scenarios, where you need to do more than (re)packaging, like application rationalisation, automated testing of apps for Windows 10 compatibility or compatibility for specific virtualisation formats. But for those kind of scenarios you need to invest a lot of money for several additional Admin Studio Add-Ons, and I guess you have to think twice if it’s worth spending this money. But again: There are scenarios where it definitely makes sense.
On the other side there are other nice tools on the market that integrate quite well with“3rd party” packaging tools like Advanced Installer, e.g. I like AppTracker, this is a pretty cool tool for Application Life Cycle Management scenarios, and even more important: It supports rationalisation of migration scenarios (think of Windows 10!).
So my personal conclusion from 20 years of packaging experience is: There is not THE best tool – it always depends on the specific customer scenario what tool or solution fits best.