What’s new in Visual Studio 2013 and InstallShield Limited Edition

What’s new in Visual Studio 2013 and InstallShield Limited Edition

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UPDATE: We’re happy to announce the availability of the Visual Studio Installer Projects Extension. This extension provides support for Visual Studio Installer projects in Visual Studio 2013. You can download the extension from the Visual Studio Gallery. To learn more check out this blog post on Visual Studio Installer Projects extension.


We believe it is important to provide Visual Studio developers a no-cost setup tooling solution to deploy applications to the various platforms you target. In Visual Studio 2010 we partnered with Flexera Software to included InstallShield Limited Edition, a free version of Flexera’s installation development solution, with Visual Studio. InstallShield Limited Edition added capabilities not found in Visual Studio Setup Projects, such as TFS and MSBuild integration, support for creating new web sites and ISO 19770-2 Tagging support.

When we deprecated the Visual Studio Setup Project in Visual Studio 2012, many customers shared feedback through the UserVoice site regarding additional features they’d like to see added to InstallShield Limited Edition based on their previous experiences with Visual Studio Setup Projects. These scenarios tended to coalesce around these areas:

  • Installing x64 applications and services
  • Installing Windows Services
  • Distributing the VSTO runtime
  • Using Relative Paths within project files
  • Improvements when migrating installation projects and custom actions to InstallShield Limited Edition

While designing Visual Studio 2013 we reviewed the feedback developers shared with the Flexera Software team and looked for ways to improve the InstallShield Limited Edition extension for Visual Studio to align with the needs you have expressed. For this new release, Flexera Software will add several new features in InstallShield Limited Edition including:

  • Support for installing x64 applications and services
  • Support for installing Windows Services
  • Support for distributing the VSTO runtime
  • Support for relative paths in project files

Migrating installation projects and custom actions

Some customers have reported issues during project conversion particularly when converting setup projects that included custom actions. Our joint goal is to ensure that all Visual Studio Setup Projects migrate seamlessly to InstallShield Limited Edition so your work and investment can move forward. This includes projects with custom actions and they should migrate appropriately. We are working closely with Flexera Software to understand why projects and custom actions fail to migrate so we’d like those of you who have migration failures to submit a detailed bug on the failure using the Visual Studio Connect site. Look for updates on this issue as we learn more.

Beta available for Visual Studio 2012 and Visual Studio 2013 Preview

The changes above will be available not only for Visual Studio 2013 users but also for existing Visual Studio 2012 customers. You can get the Beta release for InstallShield Limited Edition by going to:


Please try out this new version and tell us what you think!


Tony Goodhew Small

Tony Goodhew – Program Manager, Visual Studio IDE Services

After the better part of 19 years spent in Visual Studio (and precursor tools) Marketing, Tony decided that he should either make a career of it or try something new. He joined the IDE Services team as a Program Manager in early 2012 and has been working on Visual Studio extensibility and the Visual Studio Industry Partner Program since then. While not known for enjoying pina coladas and getting caught in the rain, his version of paradise would include a cheeseburger.

Leave a Comment
  • Please add 2 and 7 and type the answer here:
  • Post
  • Please bring back the setup project in VS 2013! We don't want to depend on another third part vendor.

  • InstallShield Limited Edition is worth EXACTLY what you pay for it: NOTHING.  It does not work for anything other than a simple copy you could do without an installation program.  There is ABSOLUTELY ZERO support from Flexera; you can't even purchase support.  Their forum is worthless - I've tried to get simple questions answered to no avail.  Based on my experience I would never, ever purchase anything from Flexera and it causes me to lower my estimate of Microsoft products.

  • I guess unless you're one of the big developer shops shoveling thousands of dollars into Microsoft's pockets, your opinion doesn't matter.

  • Your flagrant disregard for your customers is astonishing, maybe you should go back to marketing instead of making decisions that are horrible.

  • When VS2012 came out, I was forced to migrate everything to WiX, as I needed to install a Windows Service and x64.  Before I fully understood those deficiencies in the InstallShield Limited Edition product, I attempted to do research into the issue.  To echo John's thoughts, the InstallShield forums and support options are worthless.  Why would any developer choose to use such a poor option for anything mission-critical is beyond me.

    We're a startup.  It doesn't make sense for us to spend our limited capital on higher editions of InstallShield, yet we depend on having a good installer for our business.  It's pretty sad that there isn't something out of the box that actually works and is properly supported by Microsoft.

  • John - Our support team is very active in the community forums, but if you have specific questions that haven't been addressed, I'd appreciate the opportunity to help you out.  You can contact me directly at KHilker@flexerasoftware.com

  • If you really have no intention to bring back setup project, please release it as open source plugin somewhere (codeplex?), someone-else will continue to develop it for you and us... Thank you.

  • seems like MONEY from Flexera talks.

    Ballmer: "developers, developers, developers"... that was bullsh*t!

  • I think Microsoft should really start to consider very carefully how they're treating Windows developers at the moment. With the huge increase in web applications and entire enterprise technology stacks that have no reliance on Microsoft components, it would seem to make sense to really do as much as possible to keep core Windows developers happy.

    Many developers still use Win32/C++/MFC etc for large enterprise applications that are too costly to support - very little has been done to improve upon MFC in years (see the popularity of uservoice item 'improve mfc' visualstudio.uservoice.com/.../2782934-improve-mfc), WinForms is nice for utility apps and so on, but tends to struggle for big applications. WPF has some wonderful features, but with the failings of Silverlight and the drive towards Metro apps, many Windows developers feel like there's a lack of direction.

    The fact that Microsoft's enterprise integrated development environment has to use a third party to provide functionality to install onto Microsoft's own operating system is laughable. Why make it hard for Windows developers? As people see the lack of direction in desktop applications, poor uptake of Windows 8 and metro, and, again, the removal of a setup feature from Visual Studio, it's no wonder that many will go 'you know what, why bother using Windows, I'll write the back-end of my application in Nodejs, the front end as a single page website, and deploy the lot to a free VM from AWS'.

    I know this sounds like a big moan about a small thing, but it's more about the attitude to the community feedback, at a time when I think that it is not wise for Microsoft to rest on their laurels and assume people will just 'make do'.

  • Hi, perhaps you should publish this post with a picture where you guys wear ear plugs with a big sign behind stating:"we really don't care what our clients are telling to us". InstallShied which i have been using for 20 years is the worst software I have ever used. The previous basic install that shipped with VS was the best feature of VS because if I cannot deploy a software I may as well not develop it in the first place!

  • You will use it and like it. <--- period

  • Really don't care if the old setup and deployment projects come back or not, but you could of at least given us a deployment tool that works.  InstallSheild is nothing but a crappy piece of bearly functional bloated adware

  • Just use WiX...

  • I would have preferred that you allocated some additional resources to WiX, so that it could be further improved (in addition to the volunteers who work on it already).

    After all, that's what you use to package up Visual Studio isn't it?

  • InstallShield? Still in 2013? Don't waste your time. Just use WIX.

    Unfortunately, since VS does not install it, many people do not know about it. You could help out many by including it with the default installation. (But PLEASE make sure that it can upgraded to newer versions as they are released.)

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