Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between MSI and EXE


If you want to put new software in your computer, you need to obtain an installer either by purchasing online or locally, or by downloading free ones from the Internet. With installers, there are two common files that you need to open in order to start the installation; one that has an MSI extension and one with an EXE extension. The main difference between the two extensions is their purpose. EXE is used mainly to indicate that the file is an executable one. In comparison, MSI indicates that the file is a Windows installer.

While an MSI is used only with installers, this is not the case with EXE. Any application requires having at least one EXE file as it is needed to start the processes of the application. Even programs installed with either an EXE or an MSI will have one or more EXE files.

One of the advantages of using MSI when creating your installation package is the availability of a standard GUI that is customizable to some degree but removes the complexity of creating your own interface. But if you use an EXE file, you have the full freedom on how the installer interacts with the user. This is clearly seen in most modern games which use EXE as their installers. They often have very fancy and interactive interfaces that entertain the user while waiting for the installation to finish.

Another advantage of MSI is its ability to do installation or demand. With this type of installation, only the links and other minor stuff are actually put on the computer. The actual installation is done when the user attempts to run the program for the first time; at which point, the MSI opens the necessary files and finishes the installation process. EXE files cannot do this.

Choosing between EXE and MSI when creating a software installer is based purely on the program you have and the amount of effort you want to put into the installer. EXE provides you with utmost control at the expense of added work in creating the installer. MSI does the complete opposite, simplifying the task by conforming to preset standards.


1.An EXE is an executable file while an MSI is an installation package.
2.MSI is exclusive to installers while EXE is not.
3.An MSI provides a standard GUI while an EXE provides GUI flexibility.
4.An MSI can do installation on demand while an EXE can’t.

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