Both products support all standard installation functionality, such as installing and removing files, making changes to the Registry, modifying INI files, registering controls, etc. (See the features page for either product for a full list of their features.)
The chart below outlines the similarities and differences in some key areas that may affect your purchasing decision.
|Feature||Setup Factory||MSI Factory|
|Creates MSI (Windows Installer) packages||No||Yes|
|Supports a free-form “scripted” approach for setup logic||Yes||No|
|Level of flexibility||High||Medium|
|Create self-extracting executable setups (i.e. “setup.exe” files)||Yes||Yes|
|Create installers that run on Windows XP to Windows 10||Yes||Yes|
|Register COM (ActiveX) controls||Yes||Yes|
|Install .NET Assemblies to the Global Assembly Cache (GAC)||No||Yes|
|Supports the use of Windows Installer merge modules||No||Yes|
|Install Internet Information Services (IIS) Websites, virtual directories, etc.||No||Yes|
|Supports automatic uninstall||Yes||Yes|
|Supports “repair” mode||N/A||Yes|
|Flexible configuration of installer dialogs||Yes||Yes|
|Free-form dialog editor||Yes||Yes|
|Detect and install third-party technologies||Yes||Yes|
|Supports more than one language/localization per installer||Yes||No*|
|Can be used to create Windows Installer merge modules||No||Yes|
|Built in WiX support||No||Yes|
|Custom LUA scripting support||Yes||Yes|
Recommendation on How to Choose
The fundamental architectural difference between the two products is that Setup Factory uses its own proprietary, self-contained setup engine to perform the installation. It includes a powerful built-in scripting language to control the installation procedurally. As such, it is very flexible and configurable.
MSI Factory, on the other hand, creates Windows Installer packages (.MSI files) that are interpreted and run by the Windows Installer Service which must be pre-installed on the end user’s system. Like all standard MSI installers, these are essentially database files that describe the installation in a declarative fashion, and must abide by the rules of the Windows Installer technology.
Although both products are easy to use, many people find that Setup Factory is both easier to use and more straightforward. This is because of its procedural approach, rather than the declarative approach of the MSI Windows Installer technology (the .MSI technology is inherently more complicated and will require you to learn some new and potentially foreign concepts).
Ultimately, if the chart above does not lead you to a clear choice based on your requirements, you should evaluate the free trial versions of both products and see for yourself.
As a general recommendation, if you do not require an .MSI based installer for your product, then we’d recommend that you choose Setup Factory as your installer builder. If you know that your development requirement calls for an .MSI format installer, then your choice is clear that MSI Factory is best for you.
* Each Windows Installer package can only support one language – this is a limitation of the Windows Installer technology itself. However, MSI Factory does allow you to design your installer in multiple languages from one source project and then lets you choose the target language each time that you build.