As reported before, Visual Studio 2010 (currently in beta) includes an "InstallShield 2010" project template in the "Setup and Deployment" category. Back then the link didn't work, but now it's live. From the "InstallShield Limited Edition for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010" page you can now download a setup package. Registration is required before you can start the download, and my standard Flexera privacy caveat applies: Anyone who knows your e-mail address can retrieve the other information you entered in this form, like your real name, phone number, company name, city and country.
According to the download page: "InstallShield Limited Edition for Visual Studio 2010 replaces the functionality provided by the Visual Studio Installer tool. It provides a subset of the world-class functionality found in our more advanced InstallShield editions.". Note that installing InstallShield LE doesn't remove the Visual Studio Installer (VSI) project type, but it offers an alternative.
Now the interesting question is what subset of the full InstallShield functionality is included in the Limited Edition, and what has been removed? I haven't seen this officially documented, so here are the most notable differences I found so far. (In this screen shot of Solution Explorer you can see the disabled views marked with a lock symbol)
- You are limited to one InstallShield project type, probably the equivalent to "Basic MSI". Other project types like Merge Module, InstallScript or Smart Device are not included.
- You cannot customize the Feature structure of your setup. So you are limited to one feature, similar to VSI.
- There are no localization options. Multi language setups are only supported in the Premier edition of InstallShield.
- Text File Changes and XML File Changes views are disabled.
- SQL Scripts and COM registration are unavailable.
- Billboards and Support Files can't be specified.
- Dependency Scanners are not included (but it's always better to know your runtime dependencies than having a machine trying to guess)
- The Patch Design view is also been locked.
While some more important and some less important functionality has been disabled in the Limited Edition, InstallShield LE still offers some advantages compared to Visual Studio Installer:
- Prerequiste installation to pre-install packages like the .NET Framework or Internet Explorer 8.
- INI File Changes and Environment Variables views.
- IIS configuration view.
- More dialogs to chose from, but only limited customization options (similar to InstallShield Express).
- Slightly more custom action scheduling options, but by far not equivalent to the full InstallShield version. Essentially you can call a custom action at the beginning or at the end of the UI sequence, or in the Execute sequence after RegisterProduct. In VSI you can't insert custom actions in the UI sequence at all.
- More customization options for Major Upgrades (in the "Upgrade Paths" view)
Like in the full InstallShield version, the "Update Notifications" view enables you to register your product with FlexNet Connect to send automatic updates to your customers. However this requires a FlexNet Connect account which is sold separately.
InstallShield LE has a wizard to import VSI projects.
To summarize, it looks like InstallShield LE has been tailored to be a replacement for Visual Studio Installer, only adding a limited amount of extra functionality. The big advantage is that you can move to the more powerful InstallShield editions whenever you need the full functionality, without having to start over, and that you are already familiar with the InstallShield user interface. Ideally, the upgrade would simply remove some lock icons from the list of editors in Solution Explorer.