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InstallAware X3 Benefits

August 9th, 2015

InstallAware X3 launched simultaneously with Windows 10 on July 29th. Our launch was a huge success. InstallAware X3‘s merits speak for themselves:

Automated Virtual Machine Testing: Run as many simultaneous tests as your hardware can handle on VMware and Hyper-V platforms. The default unit test checks for successful installation and removal of any existing InstallAware solution, without any modifications needed to your setup project! The unit test ships with its InstallAware source code so you can customize it per your requirements, for example to check for specific files, registry keys/values, system services, or any other target system variable. Test on troublesome VM snapshots and prove your setups are rock solid.

Programmatic Application Pinning: You don’t have to go through the cumbersome bureaucracy of the Windows Store approval process to get your app pinned to the new Windows 10 Live Tiles Start Menu. Pin as many apps as you want to this most prime piece of real estate on a Windows system – made possible only by InstallAware. We trust you to pin responsibly and respect end-user privacy, while giving you the tools to maximize exposure to your hard work.

EV Code Signing: Use the new Build Events for Extended Verification Code Signing Certificates. Build Events let you run any custom command line, including macro resolution for standard paths such as your project and IDE folders. Sign your setup and/or your application binaries. Detect signing failures and gracefully fail a setup build.

Visual Studio 2015: InstallAware‘s Visual Studio Add-In gives you one-click setup creation capabilities from any Visual Studio project, with automatic inclusion of the pre-requisite .NET and C++ frameworks needed by your solution.

Application Runtime Wizard: Got an odd runtime that’s not included? Build your own in just a few clicks, visually!

50% Better RE-Compression: Runtimes such as Microsoft SQL Server Express 2014 with Service Pack 1 compress 50% better with InstallAware – and that’s 50% better than the ALREADY compressed sizes of the runtimes, as built by Microsoft!

Thank you all very much for being a part of the success that is InstallAware. We could not have done it without you!

InstallAware X3 First with Automated Virtual Machine Testing

July 26th, 2015

New InstallAware X3, launching on Wednesday this week, is first to market with automated virtual machine unit testing, Windows 10 support, and a host of other improvements:

Automated Virtual Machine Testing:

Supports VMware Workstation, VMware vSphere, and Microsoft Hyper-V.
Connect to local VMs or VMs hosted in the cloud on any supported server.
Use the Project Manager to browse your entire VM library and start testing on any VM snapshot.
Run as many simultaneous tests as your underlying hardware can handle.
Use default unit tests, or build your own unit testing scripts to check for particular services, files, registry keys, etc.
See the status of ongoing tests, as well as succeeded/failed VM tests at a single glance.
Use project settings for installation and uninstallation command lines; as well as guest operating system target folders.

Windows 10, Visual Studio 2015 Eco-System Support:

First to support Windows 10.
Maximize application exposure by progammatically pinning your applications to the new Start Menu Live Tiles section, without going through the Windows Store.
Use the production runtimes for .NET 4.6, Visual C++ 14, and SQL Server 2014 with SP1.
Enjoy 50% size reductions on runtimes such as SQL Server 2014 – on top of Microsoft’s already compressed runtime sizes.
Instantly create setup projects from the Visual Studio 2015 IDE and build installer or App-V virtualized targets.

Application Runtime Wizard:

Distills InstallAware’s decades of experience building and optimizing application runtimes.
Point-and-click to create new technology framework installers. The wizard guides you in making the right choices.
Consume new application runtimes from additional InstallAware IDE instances and an unlimited number of setups.

Build Events:

Use pre and post triggers.
Triggers fire upon compilation, compression, and MSI wrapping stages.
Run an unlimited number of applications and optionally abort the build should any of them fail.

InstallAware X3 grows your software margins, maximizes your revenue, and delights your developers with its convenience and simplicity.

Enjoy simplified agile builds, reduced bandwidth costs, and eliminated R&D expenditures.

Grow your exposure and monetize your software with InstallAware X3.

When a Competitor Stoops Really Low

June 8th, 2015

A competitor who shall remain unnamed has stooped really low.

We contracted outside SEO expert Michael Cottam, after observing for over three years a professionally executed and well camouflaged SEO attack on the ‘installaware’ keyword: our brand, our trademark, and our property.

His findings make for a terrifying read:

All of us at InstallAware are flattered that our unnamed competitor had to sink to these lows to challenge our product.

If nothing else, this appears to be a tacit admission that they cannot meet us fair and square in the playground, and have to resort to sleights of hand like this.

Thank you, Dear Unnamed Competitor, for your high praise.

And thank you, Dear Developers, for making InstallAware what it is. We couldn’t have done this without you.

Once again, thank you very much for your support.

InstallAware Software.

PS: If any of you are getting the error “Your access to this site has been limited” when you try to visit the blog, please download a PDF prinout of the blog post from

Happy New Year from InstallAware

January 4th, 2015

InstallAware X2 is the perfect New Year’s Resolution for all setup developers:

Fastest: New InstallAware X2 creates setups that install 50% faster than InstallShield (when InstallScript is used) and 17% faster than WiX (or Windows Installer) (1).

Smallest: New InstallAware X2 creates setups that are 174% smaller than InstallShield (when InstallScript is used) and 224% smaller than WiX (or Windows Installer) (1); compresses data up to 95% smaller(2) overall.

Safest: In more than a decade, InstallAware has never opened up systems with InstallAware-installed apps to attack(3), or had its toolchain rendered inoperative by Microsoft updates(4). InstallShield has been afficted by, and afflicted end-user systems with, both types of problems.

Freshest: Only new InstallAware X2 integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio 2015 and Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2013, containing runtimes for Microsoft .NET Framework 4.6 and the entire Microsoft Windows 10 eco-system.

Super-Stable: Both InstallShield and WiX failed to create a simple ‘xcopy setup’ installing the InstallAware X2 application folder(4). Industry bloggers for InstallShield and WiX, as well as InstallShield and WiX contacts, could not be reached for comment.

Most-Visible: Only new InstallAware X2 pins your apps programmatically to the new Microsoft Windows 10 Live Tiles Start Menu, or the existing Microsoft Windows 8.1 Start Screen.

Special Effects
: Only new InstallAware X2 setups have special effects like those found in Microsoft Visual Studio installers. Enjoy sliding and fading wizard animations, please your next-generation app-savvy clients. Beauty and intelligence combined!

Based on the objective metrics of speed, size, stability, and safety; as well as subjective unquantifiables such as beauty, InstallAware X2 is the only Windows Installer that makes sense.

(1) Please see InstallAware‘s benchmark results at Had InstallShield and WiX been able to perform the ‘xcopy setup’ as we had originally intended, our speed and size savings would have been even more dramatic! Unfortunately, this was not possible due to critical bugs.

(2) The Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5.2 runtime, when compressed with InstallAware X2, reduces from approximately 1.5 GB to 50 MB.

(3) In 2008, a vulnerability was discovered in the InstallShield Update Service Agent, as documented at Arbitrary code could be executed, compromising any system with InstallShield-installed products on them that made use of the InstallShield Update Service.

(4) Microsoft’s Security Update KB2962872 is crashing multiple versions of InstallShield as described at … tallshield.

50% Faster and 174% Smaller than InstallShield

December 14th, 2014

A new benchmark analyzed the compression efficiency and installation speeds of one open source and two leading commercial installation platforms, finding that the commercial InstallAware X2 platform defeated both the commercial InstallShield 2014 platform and the open source WiX 3.9 platform; on both speed and size.

Initial Approach: The InstallAware X2 Program Files folder, containing 15,985 files, 2,860 folders, and 14.7 GB of data, was to be installed using WiX 3.9, InstallAware X2, and InstallShield 2014 – from a single, self-extracting executable suitable for online distribution. This initial approach failed as follows:

o InstallAware X2 was able to build a Native Engine setup that could install this complete folder.
o The Heat tool in the WiX 3.9 toolkit crashed while collecting file data from the Plug-Ins subfolder, and didn’t crash but displayed warnings and exceptions while collecting file data from the Runtimes subfolder (possibly due to extra-long file paths which are unrecognized by WiX).
o The InstallShield 2014 IDE crashed while building a Windows Installer based setup file. The output size of the InstallShield 2014 IDE while building an InstallScript based setup file was in excess of 4GB, which cannot be run under Windows due to Windows’s own technical limitations.

Since WiX 3.9 could not successfully build a setup, and since InstallShield 2014 could only build a setup that couldn’t actually run on Windows, the initial approach had to be modified to enable a comparison.

Modified Approach: A small subset of files inside the InstallAware X2 Program Files folder were installed – all of the nine 7ZIP archives inside the Runtimes subfolder, together with the sqlexpress2005bin_x64 and the sqlexpress2008bin_x64 subfolders of the Runtimes folder. This modified approach succeeded as follows:

o InstallAware X2 built a setup in 19 minutes and 27 seconds, weighing in at 430,673 KB, self-extracting in 45 seconds, and installing in 3 seconds.
o WiX 3.9 built a setup in 4 minutes, weighing in at 1,397,208 KB, self-extracting in 14 seconds, and installing in 42 seconds.
o InstallShield 2014 crashed again while building a Windows Installer based setup file. InstallShield 2014 built an InstallScript based setup file in 3 minutes and 41 seconds, weighing in at 1,179,986 KB, self-extracting in 6 seconds, and installing in 1 minute and 6 seconds.

All tests were conducted on a PC with 16 GB of RAM, powered by an AMD FX 6300 8-core CPU.

Commentary: InstallAware X2 was the slowest to build and self-extract, but installation was an order of magnitude faster after self-extraction, and the produced setup was the smallest of the three. WiX 3.9 produced the largest setup of the three, and InstallShield 2014 was the slowest to install among the three. InstallShield 2014 was the fastest to self-extract and the fastest to build among the three.

Conclusion: InstallAware X2 installed 50% faster than InstallShield 2014 and 17% faster than WiX 3.9. InstallAware X2 compressed 174% smaller than InstallShield 2014 and 224% smaller than WiX 3.9. Software installation developers are encouraged to reproduce and validate the results on their own systems. All of the setup projects used in the tests above are available for immediate download at Developers are strongly encouraged to experiment with their own apps and report their findings to

InstallAware X2: Celebrating A Decade of InstallAware

November 30th, 2014

Over the course of the past fourteen months, InstallAware engineers have been hard at work putting together a release worthy of our tenth year in business:

InstantInstall Acceleration: InstallAware is now the fastest installer on Windows. InstantInstall technology accelerates any existing Native Engine InstallAware setup by an order of magnitude – installing your apps literally in the blink of an eye(1).

64-bit Compression: Shrink apps and data by up to 90%, or enjoy an extra 30% size reduction if you were already on our compression platform(2). Beat Microsoft’s own compression on runtimes such as .NET.

Windows 10 Eco-System: Integrated with Visual Studio 2015. Click “Run” on the InstallAware toolbar in any Visual Studio version, and the InstallAware Add-In builds your setup for you instantly(3).

Fading/Sliding Wizard Transition Special Effects: Delight and instill confidence in your app-savvy users with new wizard transition FX, available only with InstallAware, and compatible with all pre-built or custom-made setup themes(4).

Application Pinning: Pin your apps to the Windows 8.1 Start Screen or the Windows 10 Start Menu Live Tiles section; illustrating our intent to do everything we can to get your apps noticed and make them shine(5): Microsoft and InstallShield claim pinning impossible.

Team Foundation Server: Integrated with Microsoft Team Foundation Server versions 2010, 2012, and 2013 – enjoy secure source/version control and collaborate locally or globally with setup teams.

Extra-Long Path Lengths: Transcend the MAX_PATH character limit. InstallAware even “plays nice” with legacy installers you are spawning from deep paths, mounting them at a shortened path to ensure your third party setups succeed.

Refactored Runtimes: Install on both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems from a single runtime, enjoy 64-bit compression savings, deploy .NET Framework 4.6, the Visual C++ 14 Runtime, and the latest SQL Server Express versions.

InstallAware X2 revitalizes the entire Windows Desktop experience. InstallAware X2 is the Desktop Developers’ Destiny!

It will take InstallShield months, possibly years to clone all of our benefits above. Switch to InstallAware X2 today – meet your destiny!

Directly witness InstallAware X2′s technology at work while you are installing InstallAware X2 itself from

1: The InstallAware X2 setup, consisting of nearly 15 GB of data, completes in mere moments after the compressed archive of 2 GB self-extracts.

2: Despite the addition of more runtimes and data over its previous version, InstallAware X2′s setup is approximately 30% smaller than the previous version.

3: The InstallAware Visual Studio Add-In is 100% Free and may be installed on any computer with Visual Studio using InstallAware X2 setup.

4: Run the InstallAware X2 setup for a first-hand look at the impressive sliding wizard transition special effects.

5: The InstallAware X2 IDE pins itself to the Windows 8.1 Start Screen or the Windows 10 Start Menu Live Tiles during installation.

Microsoft Security Update KB2962872 Breaks InstallShield; InstallAware 18 Offers Flexible and Secure Upgrade Path.

July 13th, 2014

Microsoft’s Security Update KB2962872 is crashing multiple versions of InstallShield as described at … tallshield, rendering a very expensive product inoperative. While InstallShield is currently researching the nature of the problem as described at, InstallAware offers a very flexible upgrade path to all developers and administrators affected by the issue.

InstallShield have made great strides in recent years catching up with the flexibility offered by InstallAware. InstallShield 2014 released this year natively implemented some very popular InstallAware features, some of which had been available in InstallAware for as long as a decade:

1) High-DPI Installs (since 2004)
2) Multiple Instance Installs (since 2005)
3) Setup Always Installs Latest Available Version Online (since 2012)

Companies such as Embarcadero migrated away from InstallShield as early as 2008, recognizing the more flexible nature of InstallAware early on, as described in the migration case study available at In 2008, a vulnerability was discovered in the InstallShield Update Service Agent, as documented at Arbitrary code could be executed, compromising any system with InstallShield-installed products on them.

InstallAware in its decade of operation has never been affected negatively by Microsoft Security Updates, or compromised end-user systems where InstallAware setups have been run, under any circumstance. InstallAware‘s emergence after the invention of Microsoft’s Windows Installer standard has made it a stable, well-designed product from the ground-up; whereas legacy installation vendors have had to scramble to retrofit their ageing technology dating to the early 90′s.

In addition to the unsurpassed flexibility and stability offered by InstallAware for Windows software developers and Windows system administrators, licensing is also effortless on the InstallAware platform. InstallAware‘s licensing just-works – without needing to install dedicated product license servers, or without even requiring an Internet connection to activate or use products on an ongoing basis. This is a boon to computing environments which must remain disconnected from the Internet for security reasons.

List of Bug Fixes in InstallAware 18.08

November 9th, 2013

From 18.07:

The new SQL Server 2014 RTM runtime now replaces the old SQL Server 2014 CTP2 beta.

Code signing for the actual MSI payload is now operational.

Visual C++ 11 runtimes with ATL, MFC, C++ AMP, and OpenMP are now available.

From 18.06:

SSD detection on RAID arrays and virtual machines failed.

From 18.05:

Some controls misinterpreted arrow key navigation as tablet pen flicks.

Some older AMD and Intel CPUs occasionally caused failures during the loading of setup dialogs.

Microsoft Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 hardware were being misreported as virtual hardware.

From 18.04:

The MaskEdit control, when a mask was specified, would immediately skip to the next dialog.

From 18.03:

Additional intermittent out of memory errors during compression have been fixed.

The SQL Server 2012 RTM (Denali) runtime had been accidentally removed from the distribution.

Sophisticated IIS 7 configurations gave rise to occasional issues.

IIS 7 configurations now support Unicode.

Tablet pen flicks were unsupported in both the IDE and the setup engine. Now you may flick your way through setup wizard screens.

The IDE visual Registry designer displayed the correct 64 bit registry keys/values but failed to add the correct 64 bit registry keys/values, instead adding the 32 bit counterparts.

The IDE visual Registry designer failed to edit existing registry keys/values in a project due to the expanded parameters of the Write Registry command in InstallAware 18, supporting remote computers for the first time.

From 18.02:

InstallAware required .NET 2.x-3.x on Windows 8.0-8.1 to obtain assembly information and build MSI databases using the Install Assembly command.

From 18.01:

Flash controls on dialogs with Aero Glass enabled were inoperative.

Visual Studio Add-In generated projects, including all projects built using the Free Edition of InstallAware, showed dialogs for license and readme files, even when these files were not included with setup.

The setup resource packing process included a duplicate copy of each plug-in runtime DLL, potentially exponentially increasing the size of the setup resource binary when multiple calls to plug-ins were made in the setup script (even for identical plug-ins).

The default IDE window position did not fit on small resolution displays.

From 18.00:

Windows 8.1 and Server 2012 R2 detection fixed.

The setup self-extractor now correctly displays error messages such as running out of disk space.

The Glass component can now be successfully deleted from a form.

Occasional out of memory errors during compression have been fixed.

List of Bug Fixes in InstallAware 17.06 (23)

August 5th, 2013

From 17.05:

The setup engine had lost compatibility with operating systems older than Windows XP Service Pack 2.

The Dialog Designer was unable to display or edit (past the point of saving and reloading forms) any hidden or invisible dialog controls.

The Dialog Designer was unable to retain the Aero Glass control when saving forms, or add the control to new forms.

Localizations were corrupted for the Chinese (Taiwan) language.

From 17.04:

Environment variables which had empty contents after an un-installation were not being entirely removed by the Native Code Setup Engine.

(De)compression tasks left the file download subsystem in an unstable state under rare combinations of operating system language and locales.

Running built setups or exploring build folders outside of the IDE failed when the target file or folder contained compiler variables.

Under very rare combinations of Unicode user accounts and different locales for non-Unicode software, when MSI files were being built in non-Unicode mode, the setup engine could not properly acquire installation properties.

From 17.03:

The PasswordChar property of an Edit control could not be set as part of dialog rules.

The Set Access Control command failed to set rights on true 64 bit file system objects.

The notification bell overlaid on the setup Taskbar button would be lost when setup was minimized to the system tray.

The IDE Power Tweaks designer treated LOADOLDDATA as a setup script variable, and not as the compiler variable that it is.

The Native Engine rolled setup back even if at least one Apply Install was called and setup was subsequently cancelled.

From 17.02:

The App-V 5 Compiler occasionally experienced infinite recursion when processing Create File Type commands.

The setup binary has been optimized for size.

From 17.01:

The default compression strength in template projects was inoperative.

From 17.00:

The Apply Patch statement failed under rare circumstances on Windows XP.

Dropping a new command on the MSIcode editor scrollbar caused a frivolous error message.

The built-in InstallAware custom action called ACTAWE failed under rare circumstances due to a memory overwrite bug.

The App-V 5 Converter did not support Unicode file names.

From 16.07:

The MSI_ALL setting was not reflected in the Power Tweaks designer.

The Project Options dialog did not accurately portray the state of all compiler variables in visual check-boxes.

The IDE hint for the Web Media Blocks designer was missing.

An Iranian Saint: Elham Asghari

July 6th, 2013

As a swimmer myself, I am deeply touched by the story of Elham Asghari:

By way of the Internet, I would like to share my thoughts with Elham:

Your courage and willingness in the face of insurmountable odds clearly demonstrates that you are on the fast track to enlightenment. Your love and service to those who would choose to oppress you is illustrated by your choice of birth in this lifetime. Congratulations on your accomplishment of incalculable merit in a single incarnation!

From this humble swimmer, heartfelt congratulations to Elham on setting a 20 kilometer world record! You are the personification of the human spirit in its finest form.