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I need to find an installer tool that can do the following on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, or Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit editions):

  1. Install IIS 7 if not installed
  2. Install .NET 4.0 if not installed
  3. Register ASP.NET 4.0 if necessary
  4. Install SQL Server 2008 Express Edition if not installed
  5. Install my webapp to IIS c:\inetpub\wwwroot\ by unpacking a ZIP file
  6. Create database, login and run scripts
  7. Update the web application's web.config file with database information
  8. Run two other MSI installs in silent mode (this one should be easy)

I have used InstallShield in the past with a Delphi application I have written, but this is a lot more complicated. I have never "deployed" a web application to client machines, and we need this install to be bulletproof since most clients who install will not have much IT knowledge.

What is the experience using these tools? We will buy the tool we decide is the best - but once we do, there won't be any going back - so I really want to make an informed decision.

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Microsoft Web Platform Installer might fit the bill - "automates the installation of Microsoft's entire Web Platform including IIS, Microsoft SQL Server 2008, .NET Framework, PHP, ..." –  Peter Mortensen May 6 '13 at 13:52
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I presently use InstallShield professional and Windows Installer XML at where I work. I know that InstallShield 2011 can do SQL Server Express 2008 and .NET 4 requirements easily as they are part of the prepackaged install items. I know that you can check for IIS 7 as a prerequisite, but installing it through your installer might be difficult as it is part of the OS install (Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008), so I do not know if you can push it as part of your install.

Where I work, we use InstallShield to bootstrap a mutable series of MSI files to get a very complex system installed. And we have a large number of prerequisites that includes .NET Framework 2.0 and upgrades to the Windows Script Host. So I know that it can do most of what you want.

Also, Wise was bought out by Symantec and the only product left of what was Wise is the repackaging tool. InstallAnyWhere is made by Flexera Software, the same company that makes InstallShield, and it is more focused on multi-platform installation.

You could use WiX but without Burn (their proposed bootstraper system) you would have to write a bootstrapper and MSI chaining tools, not fun.

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Sounds like InstallShield could do the trick. I am going to download the trial and give it a go. Also, I feared IIS7 would have to be done manually since it is a "Feature" of the OS. –  MDV2000 Jan 21 '11 at 14:35
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I'm not sure you can install IIS7 with an installer. However you can define II7 in your prerequisites.

All the others actions you mention can be done by any popular installer.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • InstallAware - very strange company and CEO, former InstallShield employee. However their products work and it's what I'm using today.
  • Nullsoft Scriptable Install System - open source and very flexible. This is the installer I will use for my next company.

We purchased InstallShield in the past, worked with it for years, but decided to stop using it because the support did not meet our expectations. We tried it again a couple of years after and that was worse. That's why we stayed with InstallAware despite how we think their customer relation policy is strange.

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