What Is MSI Scripting?


Larry Thompson

MSI Scripting: Simplifying Software Installation with Ease

Have you ever wondered how software installation becomes seamless and hassle-free? The answer lies in MSI scripting. In this article, we will dive deep into the world of MSI scripting and explore its significance in the software development lifecycle.

What is MSI Scripting?

MSI stands for Microsoft Installer. It is a technology developed by Microsoft that enables developers to create installation packages for their applications. These packages, known as MSI files, contain all the necessary files, settings, and instructions required for installing an application on a Windows operating system.

Scripting, on the other hand, refers to the process of writing a series of instructions or commands to automate a task. In the context of software installation, MSI scripting involves creating a script that specifies how an application should be installed using the MSI file.

The Benefits of Using MSI Scripting

  • Simplified Installation: With MSI scripting, developers can create a single package that includes all the necessary components and dependencies required for installing an application. This simplifies the installation process for end users.
  • Customization: MSI scripting allows developers to customize the installation process according to specific requirements.

    They can specify default settings, choose optional features, and define installation paths.

  • Uninstall Support: MSI files created using scripting also enable easy uninstallation of applications. Users can easily remove an application from their system without leaving behind any residual files or settings.
  • Patching and Updates: MSI files support patching and updating mechanisms. Developers can create patches or updates to fix bugs or add new features, which can be applied to the installed applications.
  • Remote Installation: MSI scripting allows for remote installation of applications on multiple machines, making it convenient for system administrators to deploy software across a network.

Creating an MSI Script

To create an MSI script, you need a tool that supports MSI packaging, such as Microsoft’s Orca or third-party tools like Advanced Installer, InstallShield, or WiX Toolset. These tools provide a graphical interface for creating and editing the MSI file, as well as scripting capabilities for advanced customization.

The Structure of an MSI Script

An MSI script consists of various sections and tables that define the installation behavior. Some of the important sections include:

  • Property Table: Contains properties that define installation-specific information like product name, version, manufacturer, etc.
  • Directory Table: Specifies the directory structure where files will be installed.
  • Component Table: Lists all the components and files included in the installation package.
  • Feature Table: Defines optional features that users can choose during installation.
  • Action Table: Specifies actions to be performed during various stages of installation, such as copying files, creating shortcuts, registering DLLs, etc.

A Sample MSI Script

A simple example of an MSI script might look like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<Wix xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/wix/2006/wi">
  <Product Id="*" Name="My Application" Language="1033" Version="1.0.0" Manufacturer="My Company" UpgradeCode="PUT-GUID-HERE">
    <Package InstallerVersion="200" Compressed="yes" InstallScope="perMachine" />
    <MediaTemplate EmbedCab="yes" />

    <Directory Id='TARGETDIR' Name='SourceDir'>
      <Directory Id='ProgramFilesFolder' Name='PFiles'>
        <Directory Id='MyCompanyFolder' Name='My Company'>
          <Directory Id='INSTALLFOLDER' Name='My Application'>
            <Component Id='MainExecutable' Guid='{PUT-GUID-HERE}'>
              <File Id='MainExeFile' Source='path\to\main.exe'/>

    <Feature Id='DefaultFeature' Title='Main Feature' Level='1' />



This script defines the installation directory, includes a main executable file, and specifies a default feature. It can be customized further to suit your application’s specific requirements.


MSI scripting is a powerful technology that simplifies software installation and maintenance. It provides developers with the ability to create customized installation packages that meet their application’s requirements. By using MSI scripting, you can ensure a seamless installation experience for your users, improve the efficiency of software deployment, and enhance the overall user experience.

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