Difference Between MSI and EXE

Computers usually come with a multitude of pre-installed applications and software, but it is undeniably unusual for a computer to not install new software tools.

As a result, the procedure to install additional software on your Windows device may include acquiring an installer by either downloading the free ones or purchasing one off the web.

Installers come in two unique files that need to open to commence the installation.

One file has an MSI extension and the other one an EXE extension.

Computer users around the globe usually encounter these common extensions from time to time while updating or installing PC stuff or other systemic changes and often confuse .msi and .exe to be the same thing for both these files execute the same function of installing a software program on your computer. However, both of them have different methods of doing so.


The main difference between MSI and EXE is that the MSI is an Installer database that comprises a collection of installer files and all the data needed to install, update, modify or get rid of certain software on your computer whereas EXE files can be used to install and run application software and also has the additional benefit of users having the freedom to interact with the installer.

MSI vs EXE 1


Comparison Table Between MSI and EXE (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of comparisonMSIEXE
MeaningMSI refers to a database file that helps to store data or information about the files that are to be installed.EXE helps in accessing files that are already available in one’s electronic devices.
Basic useMSI is used for software development.EXE can be used for almost anything and is not just restricted to software developments.
InterfacesMSI files are considered to have a standard and predefined UI and are easy to work with.EXE files have different interfaces depending on the type of hardware or the application.
Accompany on installationThe MSI file is said to accompany an on-demand installation feature so that the remaining part of the installation can be done after the software is launched.The EXE file does not have this feature since it has to have access to all database files.
The choice of languagesMSI files do not provide the user’s choice of language for installation even though this feature is incorporated into the MSI software.An EXE file helps the user’s to choose a language for installation.


What is MSI?

MSI stands for Microsoft Silent Installer.

MSI are database files that are the most commonly recommended installation type by the Windows Installers. They are considered to be easy to manage and create.

MSI files contain data about an application that is characterized by components and features.

These features and components consist of shortcuts, files, etc.

MSI is additionally said to have information about the data interface and is said to contain the actual data/files that need to be installed.

The most important part of the MSI files is that they are executed with the help of MSIEXEC.EXE.

MSI files are said to be the future of application packaging and Microsoft often suggest software developers to convert the EXE file to MSI files.

 MSI files that are created using different tools have a similar management system.

MSI installers are said to have a predefined interface and are mostly considered helpful to individuals who are new or have only limited knowledge of the matter.

All MSI files have the same look and appearance.

One of the best aspects of MSI files are application installations.

MSI helps the application to be set up real quick.

When MSI helps in installation, only minor stuffs are put in the computer and the actual installation commences only when the user attempts to run the program.


What is EXE?

EXE stands for executable file format.

EXE acts like an installer and mainly look for the files on installation either on the web or the computer.

Windows Installers are considered to be new in the computing world and hence MSI files come with an EXE installer which is similar to a setup.exe.

An EXE does not have the database of files.

EXE files mainly look for an MSI file so that it can install the program. EXE was considered to be the original installer during the earlier times.

An application needs to have at least one EXE file to begin the application. An EXE file gives the user freedom with how the installer interacts.

This can be seen in the latest generation games as they use EXE as installers. Hence, EXE files are GUI flexile.

EXE files have a lot of malicious software which can in turn be harmful.

EXE is also said to be interactive interfaces that keep the user busy till the installation is complete.

EXE files are said to be bootstrappers as they set everything in a sequence and do not form an installation.

The EXE file types are said to accommodate easily while it is hard for MSI installers to perform such challenging tasks.

EXE is also not just concerned with the installation of software.

Main Differences Between MSI and EXE

  1. MSI stands for Microsoft Silent Installer and is a database file that is specifically designed for Microsoft installers. EXE stands for executable file format and help to receive or open files in the user’s device or would have discovered the need to download them from sources.
  2. The most important use of MSI files is that it helps in software development or installation. The most important use of the EXE file is not just limited to software development for they can practically do anything.
  3. MSI files are said to have a predefined UI that is simple for the user’s to work with and they can be used even by those individuals who have no technical knowledge. EXE files do not have a definite interface but they have many interfaces depending on the software.
  4. An MSI file comes with an installation component so that the installation can be done when the software is launched. An EXE file is not said to have this feature on installation since the EXE file does not have any access to the database on your PC or web.
  5. Even though the feature of language is incorporated into the MSI file, they do not provide the user’s choice of language. The choice of languages on installation in the EXE file helps the users to perform the task in a less complex manner.
Difference Between MSI and EXE



MSI and EXE files are the two file extensions that are commonly used on Windows and often confuse computer users when it comes to spotting the difference in the meanings of the two.

To create a software installer in your computer, the decision to choose between MSI and EXE is solely based on the program in hand and the extent of hard work you want to invest in the installer. MSI reduces the work by complying with the present standards while EXE assigns maximal control to the user at the price of additional work in creating the software installer. For that reason, from a standardization point of view, MSI is considerably a better installer option. 

MSI was primarily made by Microsoft to address the non-standard software installers created by third-party software engineers. MSI tends to be slightly more powerful for they unite the standard package. On the other hand, since EXE files are sometimes used as a means for hostile programs, using unknown EXE files can be harmful to your computer system.


  1. https://smallbusiness.chron.com/msi-installer-56267.html
  2. https://www.lifewire.com/exe-file-2622732
AskAnyDifference HomeClick here
Search for "Ask Any Difference" on Google. Rate this post!
[Total: 0]
One request?

I’ve put so much effort writing this blog post to provide value to you. It’ll be very helpful for me, if you consider sharing it on social media or with your friends/family. SHARING IS ♥️

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments