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.

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  • Please add 4 and 3 and type the answer here:
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  • Because of the limitations of the setup projects in VS 2010, we developed custom installers to handle things like creating event sources, creating web sites in IIS, configuring application pools, etc. We then added them as custom actions to the setup projects and all was well in the land.

    We thought we would simply migrate all our setup projects across to InstallShield LE, but unfortunately LE does not support calling custom installers from a DLL - you need to purchase one of the other editions for this... which kind of makes LE pointless.

    We are a large enterprise with 100s of applications and already spend a fortune on Microsoft development tools, SURELY you can negotiate to have this feature added to the LE edition???

  • Everybody, just two words : Inno Setup.

    It has everything you wish, is free and open source, does not rely on crappy Windows Installer, and for anything not in the box, you can just call you own embedded exes from it.

  • We migrated everything to WIX as well. Works great. Large community support. MS team should start considering easy integration with WIX than Installshield.

  • It is a fact. This "tipucho" is just a lackey of Flexera, no other explanation. It should be a place where one can report obtuse MS staff.

    Not even the developers of Microsoft They use that sh*t, They use WiX. Review the installer of VS2012, U1, U2, U3 and typescript and you will realize. twitter.com/.../1

    The pathetic of the matter is that they ignore the comments of the developers, and they have a whole platform to "listen". BULLSH*T!

    I'm not saying you have to do whatever we want, just do not give us a satisfactory answer that does not want to put the "Setup Project" in VS2013. The as*hole this is only limited to promote Flexera sh*tty.

  • Too little, too late.  We already had to migrate our 16 installers to Inno Setup, which wasted a lot of time that could have been spent doing useful work.

    I truly do not understand why Microsoft seems to regard deployment as part of "Visual Studio extensibility," per Mr. Goodhew's bio on this page.  Deployment is not an optional feature!  It is a core part of the development process, and thus should be a core part of VS, directly supported by Microsoft.

  • Note that managed code custom actions as implemented in Visual Studio have always been undesirable in the view of many setup experts. The Windows Installer team at one said they couldn't support them:


    and this also:


    The WiX solution uses DTF which detours some of these issues, but the idea that Visual Studio managed code custom actions should come back in their old form is a bad idea. Also, running managed code UI from a custom action running with the system account should never be allowed.

  • So the Flexera era continues without flexibility in VS2013. How about WiX support or open src setup projects? Oh, how about listening to developers, this selective listening is BS.

  • Has anyone at Microsoft actually tried to deploy a project with InstallSheild?  I suspect not or this they wouldn't be standing by this decision

  • Tony, throwaway the cheeseburger and concentrate on the values that sell your products. Every developer has an interest in being able to install their software with minimal fuss on a client machine. Not every product is web based, and even web based products need to be installed on a server.

    A developer needs a tool that moves forward with the source code. The choice of installer be it InstallShield, WSIX or ANOther is almost of no interest - OK licensing costs are interesting, but generally are background noise.

    If WSIX is the way forward,  why not just adapt the simplicity of existing install projects to direct output to use WSIX installers and/or ISLE based installers? (There seems to be issues creating WSIX installer projects that a wizard could solve.)

  • Bring back the Setup & Deployment projects.

    Until returning back this, returning back VS 2010 icons and UI, and removing the ALL Caps menu, i will stick in VS 2010. I also contemplating Embarcadero solutions for the future in all developers team in our company.

    Thanks for nothing (Result for not hearing your customer base)

  • Guys, you are not paying attention.  You don't need to worry about installers.  

    Your windows store apps will be installed by the store.  

    Azure has lots of great ways to get your site deployed.

    What?  You still develop those old school on-premise and desktop apps?  Wow, you need to re-imagine those as Windows Store and Azure apps!

  • The point of my previous post is that you are asking for features to benefit a group of developers that you have a hard time getting any one at Microsoft to admit even exists anymore.

    You will not get new features if your very existence is in doubt.

    It is kind of like that movie the "6th Sense".  Instead of seeing dead people, I see deprecated developers! They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're deprecated.

  • So then, Stephen, why not just ditch the whole Win Forms development environment?

  • @SomeGuy - They have.

    When was the last major feature developed for WinForms?  (Not minor fixes and updates, though I wager those are few and far between too.)

  • That begs the question.  Why remove it at all if this side of the world is so stagnant?  Leave well enough alone and let us do our jobs... Not everything in this world can be developed with shiny new toys...

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