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Compare installer features

Note: The information on this page has not yet been updated for InstallMate 9. However, most InstallMate 7's features also apply to InstallMate 9. See What's new in InstallMate 9 for the differences between the two products.

Don't let the bargain price fool you, this is a full-on installer product. It can generate a professional setup program from many sources, including a VB6 .vbp file. There are handles that allow you to create very complex setups over a variety of Windows versions and spoken languages, but you can also have a working installer in a few minutes. I had my (non-working) 32 bit project installed in Windows 7 64 bit an hour after getting Tarma Installer. There is ample, clear documentation and a pre-flight mode that does a good job of analyzing your choices and finding potential omissions or errors. -- Anonymous customer review on the Softpedia download site

  QuickInstall 2* ExpertInstall 3* Installer 5/InstallMate 7
  QuickInstall ExpertInstall InstallMate 7
Audience Casual developers Professional developers Professional developers
Approach Ready-made installer Full-featured and fully authorable Full-featured and fully authorable
Trial period Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Royalty-free Yes Yes Yes
Technical support Free Free Free
Windows Logo compliance Partly Partly Fully compliant
Installer types Tarma native v2 installers Tarma native v3 installers, MSI installers Tarma native v5/v7 installers, Windows Mobile .cab
MSI support n/a Yes Merge module import, MSI wrapper (v7)
.Net support n/a Yes (ExpertInstall 3.1 and later) Yes
64-bit Windows support n/a Yes, with some limitations Yes, fully supported
Windows Mobile support n/a n/a Yes (Installer 5.2 and later)

* Due to the introduction of Windows 7, this product has been discontinued. Technical support ended on 31 December 2010. We recommend that you upgrade to InstallMate 9 for full compatibility with all Windows versions.

Technical features

Efficiency. (a) Build time, even with added diags, puts InstallShield to shame. (b) I don't have to spend 20+ minutes digging through layers of UI just to find a single data field I'm looking for. (c) Final product is an EXE that doesn't have MSI dependencies, so no concerns about missing external libraries. (d) Installer engine doesn't bloat my distribution package .. InstallShield has about 4MB overhead if you're playing it safe and including MSI runtime bits. -- Mike Welch, Sr. Systems Engineer, HP iPAQ Support Engineering

  QuickInstall 2 ExpertInstall 3 Installer 5 InstallMate 7
Installation platforms (Desktop) Windows 95, 98, Me, NT4, 2000, XP, and later Tarma: Windows 95, 98, Me, NT4, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, and later including x64 editions
MSI: Windows 98, Me, NT4, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, including x64 editions
Windows 95, 98, Me, NT4, 2000, XP, Vista,, including x64 editions Windows 95, 98, Me, NT4, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, and later, including x64 editions
Installation platforms (Server) Windows NT4 Server, Server 2000, Server 2003 Windows NT4 Server, Server 2000, Server 2003 Windows NT4 Server, Server 2000, 2003, 2008, including x64 editions and Windows Server Core installations (both GUI and console modes are supported on Core versions) Windows NT4 Server, Server 2000, 2003, 2008, 2012, and later, including x64 editions and Windows Server Core installations (both GUI and console modes are supported on Core versions)
Other Windows platforms n/a n/a Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE) 1.0 - 3.0 supported Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE) 1.0 - 3.0 supported
Windows Mobile n/a n/a PocketPC and SmartPhone 2003 and later, including Windows Mobile 5 and 6. PocketPC and SmartPhone 2003 and later, including Windows Mobile 5 and 6.
Development platforms Windows 98, Me, NT4, 2000, XP, and later Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, and later Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, 2008, and later, including x64 and Server editions. Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, 2008, 7, 8, 2012, and later, including x64 and Server editions.
Windows SxS support n/a n/a Yes (Installer 5.1 and later) Yes (Installer 5.1 and later)
Windows Vista Restart Manager support n/a n/a Yes Yes
Installs and removes ...programs, documents, images, multi-media files, TrueType® and OpenType® fonts, ActiveX controls, COM servers, type libraries, WinHelp files, device drivers, services, registry updates, INI files, environment variables, program groups, shortcuts, and third-party tools Same, with many new options and additional support for .Net assemblies Same, with many new options and additional support for .Net assemblies, automatic .Net and MSI prerequisite installation, and Windows side-by-side assemblies with automatic fallback on older systems. Same, with many new options and additional support for .Net assemblies, automatic .Net and MSI prerequisite installation, and Windows side-by-side assemblies with automatic fallback on older systems.
Platform-dependent installations ...allow you to specify the exact Windows versions for each installation item ...allow you to specify the exact Windows versions for each component Same, with additional processor options (x86, x64, ia64) Same, with additional processor options (x86, x64, ia64)
Multilingual support ...in 27 languages, including localized Readme and License texts and language-dependent file installation ...in any language supported by Windows, for any text and screen in the installer. Translations into 12 languages included. ...in any language supported by Windows, for any text and screen in the installer. Translations into 16 languages included. ...in any language supported by Windows, for any text and screen in the installer. Translations into 19 languages included.
Single-file distributions ...with Authenticode® signatures for secure Internet downloads, CD-ROM distribution, or any other channel Same Same, plus additional loader + archive, loader + download, and plain file distributions. Same, plus additional loader + archive, loader + download, and plain file distributions.
Password-protected ...installation packages for greater security Same Same Same
Digital signatures Yes, Authenticode® digital signatures Yes, Authenticode® digital signatures Yes, Authenticode® digital signatures Yes, Authenticode® digital signatures
Context-sensitive help Yes (WinHelp) Yes (HTML Help) Yes (HTML Help) Yes (HTML Help)
Project file format Based on Windows .ini files; uses current ANSI code page. XML format; full Unicode support (UTF-8 or UTF-16 encoded) XML format; full Unicode support (UTF-8 or UTF-16 encoded) XML format; full Unicode support (UTF-8 or UTF-16 encoded)

Development environment features

As I said, this package is wonderful. I downloaded several install constructors and tested them and this was the only one with an interface and flow that I actually liked to work with. -- Joe B.

  QuickInstall 2 ExpertInstall 3 Installer 5/InstallMate 7
Approach Ready-made installer Full-featured and fully authorable Full-featured and fully authorable
User interface style Explorer-style with direct-access project pages Same, with many enhancements Same, with many enhancements
Editing style In-place editing of all installation items Same, with many enhancements Same, with many enhancements
Dialog editor n/a Yes Yes
Localization editor n/a Yes Yes
Action sequence editor n/a Yes Yes
Smart defaults Yes Yes Yes
Preflight checks More than 200 More than 450 More than 500
File and project import Tarma Setup 1.x
Visual Basic 5/6 projects
REGEDIT4 files
Tarma Installer 2.x
MSI databases
MSI merge modules
Visual Basic 5/6 projects
REGEDIT4 and RegEdit 5.00 files
Tarma Installer 2.x
Tarma ExpertInstall 3.x
MSI merge modules
Visual Basic 5/6 projects
REGEDIT4 and RegEdit 5.00 files
Windows Mobile .cab archives
Dynamic file inclusion n/a Yes, per-folder watch lists allow you to specify wildcard patterns of files for automatic inclusion in the project. Yes, with enhanced recursive per-folder watch lists.
Multiple build configurations n/a Yes Yes
Build-time variables n/a Yes, you can define configuration-specific variables for use in build-time conditions and as regular variables. Same
Build-time conditions n/a Yes, components and features can be selectively included or excluded from a build based on build-time conditions Same
One-keystroke project builds Yes Yes Yes
Preflight checks only Yes Yes Yes
GUI build mode Yes Yes Yes
Batch build mode Yes Yes Yes
Custom build actions Pre-and post-build Pre-all, pre-check, pre-build, post-build, post-all Same
Build log Yes Yes, plus separate build manifest Same

Installer development

Easy to customize everything. User interface intuitive enough that I quickly guessed my way through most of what I needed, only had to dig into the help for a small part. I especially like the flexibility and simplicity of the UI customization. -- Pieter Branderhorst, Amthor Technologies Inc.

  QuickInstall 2 ExpertInstall 3 Installer 5/InstallMate 7
Predefined screens 8 11 (Tarma) + 28 (MSI), all editable 13, all editable
Custom screens n/a Yes, unlimited Yes, unlimited
Built-in dialog editor n/a Yes Yes
Predefined actions 12 40 (Tarma) + 75 (MSI) More than 40
Custom action types 1 14 (Tarma) + 9 (MSI, with many subtypes) More than 15
Custom action sequences n/a Yes, unlimited Yes, unlimited
Localizable elements Readme and License text All installation items and resources All installation items and resources
Languages included 27 12 16/19
Built-in localization editor n/a Yes Yes
Per-language installers Yes Yes Yes
Multilingual installers Yes Yes (Tarma) Yes

Project variables

It is very flexible .. I need to create very unusual installers for different purposes, and Tarma seems to handle it all. The Actions are especially useful, as are the named variables that can be defined by registry/INI entries. Overall a great product! -- Scott Prentice, President, Leximation, Inc.

  QuickInstall 2 ExpertInstall 3 Installer 5/InstallMate 7
Predefined 80+ 290+ 250+
Custom variables Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Platform dependent Yes (9x and NT) Yes (Tarma only; 9x and NT) Yes (9x, NT, x64/IA64)
Recursive Yes (max 15 deep) Yes (max 32 deep; Tarma only) Yes (max 32 deep)
Localizable n/a Yes Yes
Runtime access Registry values, INI files, environment variables Registry values, INI files, environment variables (Tarma)
Environment variables (MSI)
Registry values, INI files, environment variables
Runtime functions n/a 15 (Tarma only) 35

Installer features

Anyway, we haven't spoken before, but I just wanted to drop you a note and say that I love your installer product! Small and to-the-point! With code bloat at amazing levels these days, it's cool to see that people know how to make things tiny and powerful still. -- Brian M.

  QuickInstall 2 ExpertInstall 3 Installer 5 InstallMate 7
Approach Ready-made installer Full-featured and fully authorable Full-featured and fully authorable Full-featured and fully authorable
User interface style Setup wizard (predefined) Setup wizard (fully authorable) Setup wizard (fully authorable) Setup wizard (fully authorable)
Interactive install Yes Yes Yes Yes
Quiet/Unattended install Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hidden install Yes Yes Yes Yes
Group Policy Software Installation Yes, with ZAP file Yes, with ZAP file Yes, with ZAP file Yes, with ZAP file
Fully isolated Current User     Yes Yes
Customization Customizable graphics Everything can be customized Everything can be customized Everything can be customized
Setup stubs 32-bit ANSI Tarma: 32-bit ANSI, 32-bit Unicode
MSI: System-provided
32-bit ANSI, 32-bit Unicode, x64 Unicode 32-bit ANSI, 32-bit Unicode, x64 Unicode
Compression method Deflate Deflate or LZMA (Tarma), Cab/LZX (MSI) Deflate or LZMA Deflate or LZMA
System requirements Windows 95, 98, Me, NT4, 2000, XP, Vista, 2003 Tarma: Windows 95, 98, Me, NT4, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, and later including x64 editions
MSI: Windows 98, Me, NT4, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, including x64 editions
Desktop: Windows 95, 98, Me, NT4, 2000, XP, Vista, including x64 editions.
Server: Windows NT4 Server editions, Server 2000, 2003, 2008, including x64 editions and Windows Server 2008 Core installations (both GUI and console modes are supported on Core versions).
Mobile: PocketPC and SmartPhone 2003 and later, including Windows Mobile 5 and 6.
Desktop: Windows 95, 98, Me, NT4, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, and later, including x64 editions.
Server: Windows NT4 Server editions, Server 2000, 2003, 2008, 7, and later, including x64 editions and Windows Server Core installations (both GUI and console modes are supported on Core versions).
Mobile: PocketPC and SmartPhone 2003 and later, including Windows Mobile 5 and 6.
Platform-dependent installation Yes Yes (Tarma only) Yes Yes
Language-dependent installation Yes Yes Yes Yes
Component-based installation n/a Yes Yes Yes
Feature-based installation n/a Yes Yes Yes
.Net assembly installation n/a Yes (3.1 and later) Yes Yes
Installation of Windows side-by-side assemblies (e.g. VS2005 and VS2008 runtime libs) n/a n/a Yes (Installer 5.1 and later) Yes
Conditional installation and actions Limited Yes, full conditional expression syntax Yes, full conditional expression syntax with further enhancements Yes, full conditional expression syntax with further enhancements
Nested installations Yes Yes Yes Yes
Reboot management Manual or automatic Manual, automatic, or programmatic Manual, automatic, or programmatic; interacts with Vista Restart Manager where required. Manual, automatic, or programmatic; interacts with Vista Restart Manager where required.
Uninstaller options Register/Do not register Normal, Hidden, None Normal, Hidden, Add-on, None. A/RP Change option can be suppressed. Normal, Hidden, Add-on, None. A/RP Change option can be suppressed.

Installation package

The completed package was compact, the software was well thought out and easy to use. [...] There should be more software like it -- Roger D.

  QuickInstall 2 ExpertInstall 3 Installer 5/InstallMate 7
Packaging styles
  • Self-extracting installer
  • Plain file installer
  • Self-extracting installer (Tarma)
  • Standard .msi package (MSI)
  • Self-extracting bootstrap loader with optional MSI download and updates (MSI)
  • Self-extracting installer
  • Plain file installer
  • Loader + Archive (with disk spanning)
  • Loader + Download

All packaging options can be mixed in each installer; see Installer packaging.

Package identification VERSIONINFO resource reflects product name, version, copyright, etc. (self-extracting installers only) VERSIONINFO resource reflects product name, version, copyright, etc. (self-extracting installers);
Summary info reflects product name, version, copyright, etc. (standard .msi packages)
VERSIONINFO resource reflects product name, version, copyright, etc.
Custom icon Yes Yes (not on standard .msi packages) Yes
Password protection Yes (self-extracting installers only) Yes (not on standard .msi packages) Yes
Digital signatures Yes (Authenticode), self-extracting installers only Yes (Authenticode) on all package styles Yes (Authenticode)

File and folder installation

Not a lot of installer packers give you a full control over that many file aspects, not to mention the full customization of the pop-up windows. After carefully going through each set of configuration options, you will be able to create a fast and optimal software installer for any product. Tarma Installer is a must have for experienced software developers who need to deliver their products in a professional and secure way. -- Adrian Arsene, official reviewer for developer products, Softpedia download site

  QuickInstall 2 ExpertInstall 3 Installer 5/InstallMate 7
General installation Yes Yes, with many new options Yes, with many new options
Version checks Yes Yes Yes
Reference counting Yes Yes Yes
Windows File Protection (WFP) compliance Yes Yes Yes
Automatic rollback and restore n/a Yes Yes
Delayed file copying for in-use files Yes Yes, with additional protection Yes, with additional protection
Folder installation options Create on demand Create on demand, Create always Create on demand, Create always
Folder removal options Remove if empty Remove if empty, Remove with files, Remove with files and subfolders (not all supported by MSI) Remove if empty, Remove with files, Remove with files and subfolders
File installation options Always, Newer, Already present, Not present Always, Newer, Not modified, Already present, Not present (not all supported by MSI) Always, Newer, Not modified, Already present, Not present
File removal options Always Always, If installed, Restore original, Keep (not all supported by MSI) Always, If installed, Restore original, Keep

File registration

I tested several low cost, third party install creation programs and ExpertInstall (even QuickInstall for that matter) was the only program with the ability to install and register all my packaged components accurately. -- Neil Axe, Exalien Software

  QuickInstall 2 ExpertInstall 3 Installer 5/InstallMate 7
DLL registration Yes (DllRegisterServer) Yes (DllRegisterServer and DllInstall) Yes (DllRegisterServer and DllInstall) for both 32-bit and x64 DLLs
EXE registration Yes (/regserver) Yes (/regserver) Yes (/regserver)
Typelib registration Yes, embedded and stand-alone Yes, embedded and stand-alone Yes, embedded and stand-alone
WinHelp registration Yes Yes (Tarma only) Yes
Font registration Bitmap, TrueType®, OpenType®, TrueType collections Bitmap, TrueType®, OpenType®, TrueType collections Bitmap, TrueType®, OpenType®, TrueType collections
External registration REGEDIT4 files n/a n/a
Post-boot registration after delayed file copying Yes Yes Yes

Shortcut installation and removal

There are a lot of features I like, but I'm most pleased with the dependability of the installer. It always works the way I expected in creating installation packages, and I have never had an install problem. Great product -- keep up the good work! -- Clifford A.

  QuickInstall 2 ExpertInstall 3 Installer 5/InstallMate 7
Program group creation and removal Yes Shortcut creation is fully configurable; shortcuts can be created anywhere on the target system. Shortcut creation is fully configurable; shortcuts can be created anywhere on the target system.
Shortcuts in program group Yes
Shortcuts on Desktop, Start menu, Programs menu Yes
Shortcuts in arbitrary locations Limited
Common (all users) or current user shortcuts Limited Automatic Automatic

System editing

Tarma Quick installer was only one installer which resolved my problem and correctly installed all libraries on Vista. I've downloaded about 15 installers from Download.com (free and about $50-100) e.g. Austrum IW, Actual installer, Smart installer, Installer2Go, Nullsoft, Install Us etc.) and spent about 2-3 days trying to install my program on Vista. Finally only Tarma worked for me, special thanks to program information messages and warnings, they helped to fix the problem. So thank you very much for professional product. -- Dmitry Volkov, ESMI Studio

  QuickInstall 2 ExpertInstall 3 Installer 5/InstallMate 7
App Paths registration Yes (main executable only) Yes, any executable file (Tarma only) Yes, any executable file
Registry keys and values Yes, any type Yes, any type; many new options Yes, any type; many new options
INI files Yes Yes, with many new options Yes, with many new options
Environment variables Yes Yes, with many new options Yes, with many new options
Key installation options Create on demand Create on demand, Create always Create on demand, Create always
Key removal options Remove if empty Remove if empty, Remove with values, Remove with values and subkeys (not all supported by MSI) Remove if empty, Remove with values, Remove with values and subkeys
Value installation options Replace, Append, Keep existing Overwrite, Append, Prepend, If present, If not present (not all supported by MSI) Overwrite, Append, Prepend, If present, If not present
Value removal options Always, Never Remove always, Remove if not modified, Remove partial, Restore original, Keep (not all supported by MSI) Remove always, Remove if not modified, Remove partial, Restore original, Keep
File types (incl. extensions and shell verbs) (via registry editing) Yes Yes
MIME types (via registry editing) Yes Yes
COM classes and servers (via registry editing) Yes Yes
DCOM servers (via registry editing) Yes Yes
Typelibs (via registry editing) Yes Yes
Services and drivers (via registry editing) Yes Yes
Installer extensions Extension DLL
Custom actions (executable or ShellExecute)
Extension DLL
Custom actions (14 Tarma, 9 MSI)
Extension DLL
Custom actions (many)

Pre-installation features

We appreciate the fact that it works. Sounds strange, but with the number of installers we have tried that did not function as they should, or did only at the odd occasion, it was a relief to find a program that worked as planned. -- Dominique T.

  QuickInstall 2 ExpertInstall 3 Installer 5/InstallMate 7
Installation levels Administrator or no check Administrator, All Users, Current User, or no check Administrator, All Users, Current User, or no check
Target system requirements Yes Yes Yes, including CPU architecture
Installation of prerequisites n/a MSI runtime (MSI only) .Net and MSI runtime predefined, plus unlimited custom handlers
Readme information Yes Yes Yes
License Agreement Yes Yes Yes
Customer registration with validation Yes Yes Yes
Previous version uninstall Yes Yes (Tarma only), plus arbitrary product uninstalls Yes, plus arbitrary product uninstalls

Post-installation features

I have used Setup Factory and InstallShield. Installshield is 10 to 50 times more expensive and does not have any advantage over Tarma for 96% of install authoring users. I think Tarma Installer is the best installer product on the market at any price! -- Roger Berk, Creative Technology

  QuickInstall 2 ExpertInstall 3 Installer 5/InstallMate 7
Start application Yes, optional Yes, optional Yes, optional
Show Readme information Yes, optional Yes, optional Yes, optional
Restart system if necessary Yes Yes Yes
Perform post-boot file registration Yes Yes Yes

Multilingual support

The latest installer drop is awesome. The per language readme/license works pretty well and very easy and intuitive to use. I like your new organization of the input screens. An FYI for you, we have had more than 500,000 downloads of our Viewer since December. -- Subu G.

  QuickInstall 2 ExpertInstall 3 Installer 5/InstallMate 7
Language selection User or automatic User or automatic (Tarma only) User or automatic
Localized Readme and License Agreement texts Yes Yes (all installer resources are localizable) Yes (all installer resources are localizable)
Language-dependent file installation Yes Yes (all components can be language-dependent) Yes (all components can be language-dependent)
Language model Multilingual or per-language installers Multilingual or per-language installers (MSI only per-language) Multilingual or per-language installers
Languages included 27 languages included (Arabic, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Serbian, Spanish (Modern), Spanish (Mexico), Swedish, Turkish) 12 languages included (Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish); you can add your own translations with the built-in localization editors 19 languages included (Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish); you can add your own translations with the built-in localization editors