The InstallShield Express V3.5 product continues this product's tradition of simple setup creation; simple in the sense of making things much easier for experienced people who know what they are doing in creating a Windows setup package, and moreover know how to troubleshoot Windows setup issues.
1. The product functions well, but is somewhat hampered by the constraints imposed by the Microsoft Windows Installer. For example, when an InstallShield Express V3.51 (there's a patch to this minor version release for V3.50 users on InstallShield web site) setup runs under Windows 2000, a message noting that the Windows Installer version on the Windows 2000 machine is typically generated. The warning can be turned off, but the problem of an outdated target machine remains.
Since Microsoft allows Windows 2000 to receive updated Windows Installer versions via service packs only, or so it would seem, there is no way to trigger an InstallShield Express setup to force an update on the Windows Installer on Windows 2000 target machines.
2. When I installed this program to my D: drive rather than the C: drive, a persistent error was generated during build attempts, as the program could not locate a key file needed to do the build. It appears that there may be a hard-wired component in the setup of this program that expects to see the main files on C:. Installing InstallShield Express V3.50 to C: fixed this problem for me.
3. The program does a basic job of importing V2.13 InstallShield Express setups to the new Windows Installer paradigm, but I found that much work was often needed to get things fully functional after import of a complex setup. This is no different than for other setup creation tools; a certain amount of work must be redone in order to move complex setups to the Windows Installer model.
4. A few tips: This is a 32-bit only product that no longer creates 16-bit setups. I find that it can create setups that launch MS-DOS programs, however, provided one creates icons using .PIF files and not icons that call MS-DOS .EXE files directly. The program cannot create installs that run under Windows 3.1, however, nor will setups run under MS-DOS.
A word of caution: if you have an MS-DOS program you need to park on a target machine, you can do that, but only by placing the file in a directory and creating an icon link to it via a .PIF file. I did this in one test by creating the .PIF files and rolling them into my setup with the other relevant files. I well imagine this is not a supported use of this program!
When I tried to build a setup featuring icons linked directly to MS-DOS.EXE files, the program would generate an error and close itself entirely under Windows 2000.
5. Generally, the product functions well, but to make it work for you reliably, a good knowledge of how installers work, and how the various Windows versions handle file installs, is also essential. In this context, of the knowledgeable programmer, this program meets its objective of quick and [relatively] easy software setup creation.