Windows Installer Direction Recommendation

Microsoft Installer Help Request

I have what seems to be a simple project that I need to turn around very quickly, but there are several roads to possibly go down, and I keep hitting potential roadblocks, and I haven't fully implemented any solution. I'm looking for help to get the best possible path meaning it meets the requirements, and takes the least amount of time & money.

Short story is the application needs to do some file reads under program files or registry reads under HKLM, and then launch other executables contained within depending on the conditions met. Longer story below

The project is for installing a custom build of IE8, that was created using the IEAK. Distribution isn't a problem, we have our hands tied there, but the inputs are:
1) An .exe (or .msi) installer of IE8, customized
2) An .exe (or .msi) customizer of IE8, in case IE8 is already installed
3) An .exe for the Silverlight installer if #2 gets installed

There is some very basic logic needed to check if IE8 and Silverlight are already installed, so either registry reads, or file version reads are all that are necessary. The end result needs to be a single .exe file (not .msi)



I'm also mixed between a bootstrapper or installer, and lack experience with properly trigerring UAC for elevated permissions (if needed). The paths considered and drawbacks I have come up with:


1) Create a simple bootstrapper application
Anything from Visual Studio 6 up through Visual Studio 2008 is available and on the table at this point. Have seen various samples at CodeProject, but haven't gotten too far into testing.
Drawbacks:
  -Need to ensure compatiblity from Windows XP all the way through Server 2008, without requiring runtimes to be installed
  -Need to trigger appropriate UAC if required for the registry read or launch of the IE8 installer. The acutal IE8 installer will prompt properly if this isnt necessary.
  -Want bundled into a single .exe
  -Would it require code signing?

2) Installer package from Visual Studio 2008
Dependency checks and installs work fine.
Drawbacks:
  -The setup seems to have to appear and force selection of an install path and all users / current users, it really should do these checks silently and kick off the rest of it
  -It gets added to add/remove programs with an uninstall entry
  -Want bundled into a single .exe (not msi)
 
3) Some other 3rd party installer
Have looked at Nullsoft & Caphyon Advanced Installer
Drawbacks:
  -Would still need it to be silent / automatic until it his the IE8 install
  -Have a preference for something simple or windows installer

4) Use opensource WiX
Haven't gotten too far into this, I imagine the same issues as #2 will pop up


Thanks in advance!
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Vadim RappConnect With a Mentor Commented:
(1) will work if you create vbscript; to fight UAC, you would need to distribute it by some elevated process, like SMS (unless all your users are local admins).

The installation created by Visual Studio can be then edited by more capable tool, for example by ORCA. But generally, nested installation is not very good idea.

(1) with vbscript looks like the closest to what you want.
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