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QuickBooks 2014 silent-unattended install

This post is about QuickBooks 2014 and how to setup the MSI for silent unattended installation.

Background: About use

My company uses QuickBooks 2013 and wanted to upgrade to QuickBooks 2014, so they asked me to package the software since it couldn’t be silently installed by default. Normally I use a Product called Microsoft Application Virtualization on  software like this, but that didn’t seem to work either, so I decided to take a crack at getting the MSI to allow silent & unattended installation. [Continue reading I did get this to work]

Background: About software

We received our QuickBooks Pro 2014 installation as a digital download, but I assume the physical media (CD/DVD) has the same information on it. If you use the digital download you will receive a downloader that will copy the installer to your profiles temp folder, and you will need to copy the installer out of your temp folder to a location you can easily access.

I believe the location will be as follows

Windows 7: C:\Users\%Name%\AppData\Local\Temp

The content inside the QuickBooks installer directory will be as follows.

            QBInstaller

As you can see we have the following

* Setup executable: We will not be using this
* ThirdParty folder: This has all the additional software requirements such as DotNet, Flash, MSXML.
– My company has all of this software already installed, so I’m not concerned about this folder
* Support folder: Not worried about this since we prefer our users to talk to the internal IT staff first.
* QBooks folder: The meat and Potatoes of the install and of this project.

Now if you go into the QBooks folder you should see an MSI called QuickBooks.msi; which is what the Setup.exe actually calls during the install, so for grins let’s see what happens when we try to run it by itself.

QbooksMSIReqSetupjpgAs you can see when we run the MSI we get this lovely message. Now what is happening is there is a condition statement in the MSI that checks to see how the MSI was called, and if it was launched directly it will display this message and prevent its installation. Luckily for us this is not a big issue because we can actually disable this check; which I’ll show you further in this post.

From my prior work with Microsoft Application Virtualization I came across some articles about some programs when packaging them that you would need to adjust the MSI installer in order to get them to work right.  [This sounds something like we want to do here doesn’t it]

In order to do this we will need to use a free tool that is provided from Microsoft called ORCA. What ORCA allows you to do is look at an MSI package and see the layout of the package. Using the information we gathered from looking at the layout we can build what is called a Transform which is an instruction file that doesn’t modify the original MSI, but tells the MSI that at certain sections in the MSI ignore these steps or enter this data that is provided in the Transform.

Building the Transform

~Requirements~

  • Virtual Machine: I recommend that you have a virtual machine when building any package because of the ability to revert back if you messed up or because you want to modify your package and see the results.
  • ORCA Software: Provided is the link to the Windows SDK for Windows 7, the ORCA tools is in this program, but I would suggest if that is all you are after to specify that in the install.
    1. http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=3138

~Steps~

    1. Install ORCA
    2. Extract you Quickbooks install to an accessible location
    3. Launch ORCA
    4. In ORCA select open and navigate to the Quickbooks.msi file located in the QBooks folder
    5. Create a New Transform
  • The reason why you select new Transform is because we don’t want to modify the original MSI. [I’ve run into some issues with some applications if I have modified the original MSI]

ORCANewTrans

I’ve already created a Transform for my company for QuickBooks, so I’ve got a list of settings I know that need to be changed.

  • I would recommend that if you plan to build a Transform that you should document every change you make even if it is just in a simple excel like I have done below.

QbooksTransTable

    6. Drop the LaunchCondition

    • The first change we will make is under the table LaunchCondition; which controls our ability to launch the MSI by itself
      1. Select the table LaunchCondition
      2. Highlight the Condition that starts out as (PARENTAPP=”INSTALLMANAGER”)
      3. Right click on it
      4. Select Drop Row

This change like stated before allows us to launch the MSI and install from the MSI

QuickBooksLaunchC

    7. Unchecked the Google Desktop Search

    • The second change I would suggest making is under the table Property; which controls the installation of the add-on Google Desktop Search. [I assume like me you don’t want extra clutter on your machines]
      1.  Select the table Property
      2. Highlight the Property that says CKBOX_GDS
      3. Double click on its Value (Be default it is 0)
      4. Change the Value to 2

This change will prevent the installation of the Google Desktop Search add-on

QBooksGDS

    8. Select Agree to License Agreement

    • The third change I would suggest making is under the table Property; which is the radio button for the I Agree to the License agreements.
      1.  Select the table Property
      2. Highlight the Property that says AgreeToLicense
      3. Double click on its Value (By default it is No)
      4. Change the Value to Yes
        • This is case sensitive

This change will allow for the unattended silent installation  of QuickBooks.

QBooksAgreeLic

    9. Enter License Key

    • The fourth change I would suggest making is under the table Property; which is the license key for your QuickBooks installation.

[PLEASE NOTE – I assume you have a proper License Agreement and License key for QuickBooks, and are installing the software per their terms of service. – PLEASE NOTE]

      1. Select the table Property
      2. Right Click in the table
      3. Select Add Row
      4. In the Property string enter QB_LICENSENUM
      5. In the Value string enter you License Key
        • You have to have the dash ‘-‘ in this field in order for the program to read your license correctly

This change will allow for unattended silent installation  of QuickBooks

QBooksLicAdd QBooksLicValQBooksAddKey

    10. Enter Product Key
    • The fifth change I would suggest making is under the table Property; which is the product key for your QuickBooks installation

[PLEASE NOTE – I assume you have a proper License Agreement and License key for QuickBooks, and are installing the software per their terms of service. – PLEASE NOTE]

      1. Select the table Property
      2. Right click in the table
      3. Select Add Row
      4. In the Property string enter QB_PRODUCTNUM
      5. In the Value string enter your Product Key
        • You have to have the dash ‘-‘ in this field in order for the program to read your product correctly.

This change will allow for unattended silent installation  of QuickBooks

[Please note I goofed on my example below and set the Property to QB_PRODUTNUM when it should be QB_PRODUCTNUM]

QBooksProdAdd QBOOKSProdVal

    11. Generate Transform

    • We are finally to the point were we can build our Transform and test it against the QuickBooks.msi.
      1. Click on the Transform tab at the top of the screen
      2. Click on Generate Transform…
      3. Save your Transform with a meaningful name

QBOOKSGen QBOOKSavGen

    12. Test Transform

    • We are finally to the point were we can test our hard work and see what happens.
      1. Open an Administrative Command Prompt
      2. Enter: MSIEXEC /I “C:\%QUICKBOOKSPATH%\QBOOKS\QuickBooks.msi” TRANSFORMS=”C:\%TRANSFORMPATH%\QuickBooksTest.mst” /qb
        • Notes – Please read
          1.  C:\%QUICKBOOKSPATH% is not an actual path. I have no idea where you put your installation at so you will have to update this with the correct information
          2. C:\%TRANSFORMPATH% is not an actual path. I have no idea where you saved your transform at so you will have to update this with the correct information
          3. TRANSFORMS needs to be capitalized I do believe.
  • The /QB allows you to watch your TRANSFORMS and MSI work together so you can see if the Transform works the way you want it to.

13. Finalize your Transform

  • We can save a finalized copy of the Transform and then change the install script we used to test it so instead of a /QB it uses /QN and we are done.

Closing

~Tips & Thoughts~

  1. TIP: I would recommend that you leave ORCA open, while building a Transform, because ORCA doesn’t allow you to open back up a Transform after it has been generated
  2. THOUGHT: There are additional settings and properties that can be adjusted in the MSI, but I only went over what was required to get the application installed for my company.
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