How Installation Repackaging Works
Installations monitoring is the primary repackaging method available in EMCO MSI Package Builder that allows you to convert almost any non-silent EXE installation into a silent MSI package. Usually, this kind of repackaging is required to deploy software on remote PCs, because only silent installations can be deployed remotely.
EMCO MSI Package Builder incorporates the best-in-class Live Monitoring technology used for repackaging. It integrates into Windows to capture file system, registry and permission changes performed by the repackaged installation. During repackaging, you just need to follow the installation steps of the repackaged installation manually. After you select the installation options, the monitored installer applies the corresponding file system, registry and permission changes that are captured by EMCO MSI Package Builder.
Once the installation is completed, EMCO MSI Package Builder automatically generates an MSI package that includes the captured changes, so the MSI installation is identical to the original installation and includes all the customizations you applied during the monitoring process. When you install the MSI, it applies the same changes that were applied when you deployed the original installation manually.
After the installation is repackaged, you can review the changes captured by EMCO MSI Package Builder. The program intellectually interprets raw-data file system and registry changes into Windows objects, so you can see, for example, Windows services and drivers that were deployed by the monitored installation and edit them through visual editors, if required, to generate a modified MSI.
Advantages of the Live Monitoring Technology
The Live Monitoring technology used in EMCO MSI Package Builder is the most capable installation repackaging technology available on the market today. It has the following features that allow you to perform repackaging quickly and easily.
- Successful repackaging of simple and complex installations. It does not matter what kind of changes are performed by the repackaged installation - EMCO MSI Package Builder can repackage anything, including complex Windows drivers, services, permissions, etc.
- Changes are captured on the fly. An MSI package is generated immediately after the monitored installation is finished. Using other repackaging solutions, you need to make Windows snapshots before and after the installation to compare them, so an MSI generation takes too long.
- Monitoring is started and stopped automatically. The program tracks the system information and knows when monitoring should be started and stopped without the risk of losing important data.
- Repackaging is automated from start to finish. You just follow a simple wizard and get a generated MSI at the end.
- Unwanted changes are filtered out. The program has a set of filters to avoid capturing changes performed by unrelated processes. Any captured change is associated with the process that generated it, so unwanted changes are removed automatically.
It is very easy to repackage an installation using the Live Monitoring technology. You can see how to use it in practice in the Repackage EXE to MSI Using Monitoring and Create Customized Installations Using Monitoring chapters.
EMCO MSI Package Builder allows you to repackage almost any installation, but still here are a few cases when repackaging using the Live Monitoring technology is not possible.
- Windows cloning. It is impossible to repackage Windows itself, because the repackaging technology is designed to be used for applications only. There are third-party tools that can clone Windows images, so you can use them if needed.
- Installation of Windows components. During repackaging, EMCO MSI Package Builder captures file system and registry changes, but when you install a system component such as .NET Framework, for example, it installs resources into protected areas of the file system and registry, so it is not possible to reproduce those changes. In this case, if the repackaged installation supports silent deployment, you can use the wrapping approach to repackage the installation.
- Installation of system software that modifies Windows on reboot. When Windows is modified on reboot, it is not possible to capture and reproduce those changes, so use wrapping instead or repackaging for installations that apply such changes.
The limitations listed above are common for all repackaging tools, and there is no way to bypass them using the Professional edition of the program. The MSI Package Builder Enterprise edition allows you to use the wrapping method that should be used instead of repackaging to avoid the above limitations. The Architect edition of the program can also generate App-V packages if you need to repackage applications into App-V. The recently introduced MSIX/AppX package formats are also supported by the Architect edition of the program.