Dave, as per your article on IE Search Prefixes, I am trying to download and install the enabler script IE_Search_Prefixes.msi, but when I get the file onto my computer, Windows XP doesn’t know what to do with it. Double-clicking the .msi file just generates an error message?
An interesting problem, particularly since when I tried to download this particular script it all ran smoothly without a hiccup on Windows XP Pro. A bit of rummaging around in Google, however, and I ascertained that the “.msi” filename suffix refers to files built for the Microsoft Windows Installer.
Theoretically, Microsoft Windows Installer is included with all versions of Windows more recent than Windows 2000, but either it’s not in your version of XP or something glitched and it’s not hooked up to the registry properly. Don’t worry, though, I am not going to suggest you edit your registry file!
Fortunately, Microsoft comes through and there are detailed instructions on their site for downloading instmsi.exe, the Microsoft Windows Installer:
• instmsi.exe for Windows 95, 98 and Me
• instmsi.exe for Windows NT 4.0 and 2000
In both cases, as far as I can tell, the procedure is the same: download the file and run it. Easy enough.
Microsoft also includes this interesting information about the Microsoft Windows Installer, if you’re interested in what it can do:
- Restores original computer state upon installation failure: Windows Installer keeps track of all changes made to the system during the application installation process. If the installation fails, Windows Installer can restore, or roll back, the system to its initial state.
- Helps prevent certain forms of inter-application conflicts: Windows Installer enforces installation rules that help to prevent conflicts with shared resources between existing applications. Such conflicts can be caused when an install operation makes updates to a dynamic link library (.dll) shared by an existing application, or when an operation deletes a dynamic link library shared by another application.
- Reliably removes existing programs: Windows Installer can reliably uninstall any program it previously installed. It removes all the associated registry entries and application files, except for those shared by other installed software. You can uninstall an application at any time after a successful installation. (Removal should not be confused with rollback, which restores a computer to its initial state when an installation failure has occurred.)
- Diagnoses and repairs corrupted applications: An application can query Windows Installer to determine whether an installed application has missing or corrupted files. If any are detected, Windows Installer repairs the application by recopying only those files found to be missing or corrupted.
- Supports on-demand installation of application features: Windows Installer can be instructed to initially install a minimal subset of an application. Later, additional components can be automatically installed the first time the user accesses features that require those components. This is known as advertising. For example, Windows Installer could install Microsoft Word with a minimal set of features. The first time the user tried to access a mail merge function (not included with the original installation), Windows Installer would automatically install the mail merge component. Similarly, Windows Installer can also purge components that go unused in an application. For example, Windows Installer could be configured to remove the mail merge component if it goes unused for 60 days.
- Supports unattended application installation: Installation packages can be configured to require no installation process interaction from the user. During the installation process, Windows Installer can query the computer for desktop attributes, including determining whether any applications were previously installed by Windows Installer.
All in all, quite a capable application. Install it, then launch the “.msi” file to load the IE Search Prefixes and you should be good to go!