I'm wondering how to convert a .exe to msi package and then deploy it in GPO.

We running a Windows 2003 Server and the clients are Windows XP. I have downloaded a program called Advanced Installer and managed to create a msi package containing the msn .exe, but when running the msi all that it really did was to unpack the msn .exe to c:\program files.

I want to convert the msn .exe to msi and, using GPO, deploy it with msiexec silently. So upon next reboot of clients, or gpupdate /force, the msn msi is deployed automatically on the clients.

I have no previous experience, am i in the right track or is there another way to do this?

  • 1
    Simply wrapping an .EXE in an .MSI will not magically make it deployable. You will probably need to extract the .EXE, or at least understand what it is doing as part of its install process. There maybe silent install options for your application already. These would be a good starting point.
    – jscott
    Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 11:14

5 Answers 5


Maybe familiarize yourself with some of the tools mentioned in this article, even though it's dated WinInstall is probably still considered the top free packaging software. Before Application Virtualization became more popular, I used Wise Admin Studio extensively but that is a pricey, enterprise level product. So grab one of the free utilities and you can "capture" what the installation (the install exe) does and package that as an MSI and go from there.

Click here for a how-to on WinInstall

One last thing, using GPO Software Installation feature only works during a reboot, running a manual gpupdate (even with a /force) will only queue it up to get installed on the next reboot.


I'd recommend that you check appdeploy.com for informations on how to silently deploy your software. Most of the time you'll find here informations on how to extract an MSI from a .exe installer if it is supported by the installer.

For instance, with the msn example :



Use FusionInventory.org to push out .exe installs. The FusionInventory server can even be on the public internet.


A. Three things you will need to successfully install software through a GPO:

  1. The main thing you need is a Microsoft installation file named .msi - you cannot use the .exe file that is on the DVD. You will need to get a packaging utility to convert this .exe file into an .msi file. Many of them are available for instant download from the Internet. There are some paid, but there are also free. Here is an example from each: MSI Studio (30-day free trial): https://download.freedownloadmanager.org/Windows-PC/MSI-Studio/FREE-4.2.2005.html Exe-to-msi: https://www.exemsi.com/
  2. The second thing is to create a shared folder on your network so that the software can live on it. You must make sure that each computer has at least read access to this folder and its contents.
  3. And the last thing you need is a new Group Policy Object associated with the relevant Organization Unit.

B. Install Software Using GPO. Create new folder:

  • If you already have a .msi file ready, you might begin by creating a shared folder on yur network. Browse to the location on your network, right-click and select New, then Folder.

Full guide you can find here HOWTO: Install .exe with group policy


For the conversion, you can use Advanced Installer. It's easy to convert an exe file to a msi package with their tool, and they have here a great tutorial on how to do that. https://www.advancedinstaller.com/user-guide/tutorial-convert-exe-to-msi.html

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