[Review] MultiSet 6.5

Giveaway of the day for May 12, 2009:

MultiSet 6.5

Version reviewed:

v6.5 Build 170

Software description as per GOTD:

Want to create a WindowsXP installation disk that will automatically install the OS Windows without asking questions about username, product key, time and locale settings? At the same time your favorite applications are automatically installed, the necessary keys are entered into the registry, drivers are updated, new patches (service packs) from Microsoft are installed. It’s possible and you can do it easily with Almeza MultiSet!

Almeza MultiSet will automatically install all the applications you require, either onto your original computer or onto a new one. It’s an ideal solution for rebuilding your systems quickly!

Besides, Almeza MultiSet can create bootable CDs/DVDs. Such disks can be used as a rescue means after a system crash. To completely restore the system, you will only have to insert such a disk into the CD/DVD drive.

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Full Review (or lack thereof)

Almeza MultiSet was last given out at GOTD on 1/21/09. It was v6.3 and I reviewed it back then. Today’s is v6.5. Here are the changes as per the developer:

Version 6.4 (January, 2009)

  • the program kernel was improved
  • some bugs were fixed
  • an error with some applications was fixed
  • the German language has been updated
  • an error with insertions was fixed
  • an error with restarting the computer was fixed

Version 6.5 (March, 2009)

  • the full support of the MSIEXEC command line
  • bugs causing an error while creating a Vista disk have been fixed
  • the bug causing an error while entering serial numbers has been fixed (MS
  • Office, Adobe Reader)
  • the package copying feature (Ctrl+Drag&Drop) has been fixed

Most/all of the changes are mainly just bug fixes. My review did not focus on bugs so the review is still 100% relevant. Please read it to gain a better understanding of Almeza MultiSet (click here).

For convenience sake, I will list the free alternatives and final verdict here.

This review (or lack thereof) was conducted on a laptop running Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit. The specs of the laptop are as follows: 3GB of RAM, a Radeon HD 2600 512MB graphics card, and an Intel T8300 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

Free Alternatives

nLite

nLite is for XP. It will allow you to customize a Windows bootable CD. While it cannot *add* additional applications, it can add drivers, and allow you to remove certain components of Windows, etc. It automates the Windows installation just like MultiSet. It is much easier to use then MutliSet and is a far superior program.

nLite described by the developer:

Have you ever wanted to remove Windows components like Media Player, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, MSN Explorer, Messenger…
How about not even to install them with Windows ?

nLite is a tool for pre-installation Windows configuration and component removal at your choice. Optional bootable image ready for burning on media or testing in virtual machines.
With nLite you will be able to have Windows installation which on install does not include, or even contain on media, the unwanted components.

Features

  • Service Pack Integration
  • Component Removal
  • Unattended Setup
  • Driver Integration *
  • Hotfixes Integration **
  • Tweaks
  • Services Configuration
  • Patches ***
  • Bootable ISO creation

vLite

vLite is pretty much the same thing as nLite but for Vista.

Macrium Reflect Free

Macrium Reflect is not a “true” free alternative to MultiSet. Macrium Reflect is actually an image backup software not a create-an-automated-Windows-CD-and-or-automated-software-install software. Melatonin actually mentioned this the last time MultiSet was given out and I understood what he/she meant back then but I only recently gained a true understanding of it.

You see the “main purpose” of MultiSet is to allow you to create an automated Windows install CD and/or automated software install CD so that is is easier for you to reinstall Windows if the need ever arises. You can accomplish the same result with Macrium. You see all you need to do is install Windows and create an image backup of Windows, using Macrium, after you have installed Windows (you can also install your drivers/software before creating the backup). Then when you want to restore Windows just restore your image backup and it will be just like you reinstalled Windows except it will be automated (and include your drivers/software if you did that). Nifty huh? This actually is one of my goals – next time I reformat to create an image backup so I can easy restore next time.

The two down sides to this method are:

  • An image backup will take up more space than creating an automated CD w/ vLite/nLite or MultiSet.
  • This method is designed for use after you do a reinstall/reformat. In other words this method will only be fruitful if you plan on doing more than one reinstall in the future.

Final Verdict

I don’t know what people are talking about when they recommend MultiSet. The best way to describe MultiSet is a ‘good idea implemented horribly’. If you want to put up with the “macro-recording” method of this software that is your choice – I hope it serves you well. However, my advice is to skip on MultiSet. vLite and nLite are superior software to MultiSet in my opinion. True vLite and nLite cannot automate applications (on your Windows install CD or otherwise), but they can add drivers and automate Windows installation in a better, much easier and less cumbersome fashion than MultiSet. They also allow you to remove certain components of Windows, such as Internet Explorer, from your Windows installation…something MultiSet cannot do. For creation of an automated Windows CD, my recommendation is vLite/nLite. However if you are willing to create (and keep) an image backup of your Windows after you install it, I recommened using the Macrium method mentioned above because it is superior to vLite/nLite and MultiSet both in terms of easiness to reinstall Windows – just create one backup (which may or may not, depending on how you did your backup, include installed drivers or software) and restore it whenever you need to “reinstall” Windows; restoration is always automated.

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