Windows Installers: EXE vs MSI

When it comes to installing software on a Windows machine, there are two primary types of installers that are commonly used: EXE and MSI. While both types of installers have their advantages and disadvantages, it’s important to understand the key differences between the two so that you can choose the best installer for your needs.

Sure, here’s the comparison table for EXE vs MSI:

Sure, here’s the updated table with ✅ and ❌ icons:

Pros and Cons EXE MSI
Ease of use ✅ Easy to use ❌ More complex to create than EXE
Flexibility ✅ More flexible ❌ May not offer advanced customization options
Standardization ❌ May not be standardized, making it difficult to deploy across a large number of machines ✅ Can be easily deployed across a large number of machines
Accessibility ✅ Can be run from a variety of locations, including local and network drives ❌ May not provide silent installation options
Customization ❌ May not provide advanced customization options ✅ Offers a greater degree of customization than EXE
Uninstallation ❌ May not provide an easy way to uninstall the software ✅ Designed to be easy to uninstall using the Add/Remove Programs feature in the Windows Control Panel
Compatibility ✅ Compatible with older Windows versions ❌ May not be compatible with older Windows versions
Size ❌ May be larger in size than MSI installers ✅ Smaller in size than EXE installers
Security ❌ May require additional security measures to ensure safe installation ✅ Built-in security features to ensure safe installation
Upgrades ❌ May require manual upgrade process ✅ Offers automated upgrade process
Installation options ✅ Can offer more installation options (such as selecting installation location) ❌ May not offer as many installation options as EXE
Scripting ❌ May not support scripting during installation ✅ Offers support for scripting during installation
Installation speed ✅ Generally faster installation time ❌ May take longer to install due to additional verification processes
Package management ❌ May not integrate with package management tools like SCCM ✅ Integrates with package management tools like SCCM
Logging ❌ May not provide detailed installation logs ✅ Provides detailed installation logs for troubleshooting
User experience ✅ Can provide a more user-friendly interface during installation ❌ May not provide as user-friendly interface during installation
Accessibility for visually impaired users ❌ May not support accessibility features like screen readers ✅ Offers support for accessibility features like screen readers
Custom actions ✅ Can easily add custom actions during installation ❌ Adding custom actions may require additional workarounds
Debugging ✅ Offers debugging options during installation ❌ May not offer debugging options during installation

In conclusion, both EXE and MSI installers have their advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice will depend on your specific needs and requirements. If you are looking for a simple and easy-to-use installer, an EXE installer may be the best choice, while if you need a more standardized and customizable installer for enterprise-level installations, an MSI installer may be the way to go.

Ultimately, it’s important to carefully evaluate your options and choose the installer that will best meet your needs.

Anti-Virus Software

It is not necessarily more likely for an EXE installer to be blocked by antivirus than an MSI installer. Antivirus software typically works by scanning files and identifying potential threats based on certain characteristics or patterns. Both EXE and MSI installers are executable files that can potentially contain malicious code or behaviors, so they may be flagged by antivirus software if they are identified as a potential threat.

That being said, some antivirus software may have different default settings or scanning strategies for different types of files. For example, some antivirus software may be more likely to scan and block EXE files by default.

In general MSI installers are less likely to be blocked compared to EXE installers.

NSIS (Nullsoft Scriptable Install System) is a popular open-source software installer that allows developers to create custom installers for their software. However, NSIS installers are sometimes blocked by antivirus software because they can potentially be used to distribute malware or other malicious code.


One reason NSIS installers may be blocked is because they can execute arbitrary code during installation, which makes them more difficult to analyse and potentially more vulnerable to exploitation by attackers. Additionally, some attackers may use NSIS installers to package malware or other malicious code, and antivirus software may be programmed to block or flag NSIS installers as a precaution.

And, because NSIS installers have been used to distribute malware in the past, some antivirus software may be more likely to flag or block them as a precaution.

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