[Review] Multiset 6.7

{rw_text}Giveaway of the day for September 18, 2009 is:

MultiSet 6.7

Version reviewed:

v6.7

System Requirements:

  • Microsoft Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, 2003 Server, Vista
  • 800×600 or better screen resolution
  • 64 Mb RAM
  • 20 Mb HDD free space

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.

Ashraf’s note:

MultiSet v6.7 (today’s giveaway) is not the latest version of MultiSet. If you go to the developer’s website you will notice MultiSet v6.8 has been released. The major difference between v6.7 and v6.8 is v6.8 supports Windows 7.

————————-{/rw_text} –>

{rw_good}

  • Ability to create automated Windows installation disks that install Vista/XP, third party software, and other goodies such as drivers.
  • Ability to create automated software installation disks.
  • Ability to create an automated install list.
  • You can easily reuse software installation “packages” to create multiple different CDs.

{/rw_good} –>

{rw_bad}

  • Cumbersome implementation of a great idea (“macro-recording”).
  • You must copy the Windows disk contents to your computer prior to making the CD.
  • You *must* enter company information/name when creating a Windows installation CD.
  • You *must* enter Windows product key when creating a Windows installation CD.
  • You must close antivirus/firewall and UAC (UAC only if you are in Vista) when ‘recording’ a software install.
  • Does not verify if Windows product key is correct (typos can occur).
  • Time zone list is very disorganized.
  • No Windows 7 support in v6.7.

{/rw_bad} –>

{rw_score}
{for=”Ease of Use” value=”2″}The way this program works, i.e. you must “record” your software installs, and having to disable AV, Firewall, UAC makes this program very annoying to use.
{/for}
{for=”Performance” value=”10″}In terms of performance, I really did not find anything which I can fault the developer. While it is annoying to use, it does get the job done.
{/for}
{for=”Usefulness” value=”5″}For home users, the usefulness of this product is very limited in scope considering how it operates (“macro-recording). This product is more useful for IT professionals who are continuously having to do redundant installs of Windows/programs on multiple computers.
{/for}
{for=”Arbitrary Equalizer” value=”6″}This category reflects an arbitrary number that does not specifically stand for anything. Rather this number is used to reflect my overall rating/verdict of the program in which I considered all the features and free alternatives.
{/for}
{/rw_score} –>

{rw_verdict}[tdown]
{/rw_verdict} –>

Almeza MultiSet has been given out on GOTD multiple times (once as v6.3 and once as v6.5). Today’s is v6.7. Here are the changes from v6.3 to v6.7 as per the developer:

Version 6.7 (June, 2009)

  • the full support of the Windows Installer Service command line
  • the program kernel was improved
  • an error with insertions was fixed in the some applications
  • an error with templates was fixed
  • the ‘auto log on’ after Windows restart option has been 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

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

As you can see, most of the changes are minor mainly relating bug fixes. Therefore the full review I wrote on MultiSet v6.3  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 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.

{rw_freea}

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. Although vLite does not officially support Win 7 (yet), the word on the street is vLite works just fine for Win7.

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.

EASEUS Todo Backup

EASEUS Todo Backup is another image backup software like Macrium Reflect. While EASEUS Todo Backup and Macrium Reflect are both excellent software that have similar features, I believe the only major thing I should point out is EASEUS Todo Backup has the ability to restore an image backup to a different size hard drive than the one the image backup was made of while Macrium Reflect does not (the developer of Macrium Reflect plans on adding this feature in the future).

{/rw_freea} –>

{rw_verdict2}Many people in the past have criticized me for my dislike of MultiSet. However I stand by my earlier verdicts: the “macro-recording” feature of MultiSet makes MultiSet a “good idea implemented badly”. Since it does get the job done as claimed by the developer, some IT professionals (who do redundant formats and installations each day) may decide the annoyance of using MultiSet is outweighed by the usefulness but I feel most home users will find MultiSet more cumbersome to use than useful. Therefore I give it a thumbs down. That being said, if you are looking to create a customized and automated Windows install CD, nLite/vLite are the way to go. 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. Furthermore, if you are willing to create (and keep) an image backup of your Windows after you install it, I recommend using the Macrium Reflect/EASEUS Todo Backup method mentioned above because it is superior to vLite/nLite and MultiSet in terms of easiness to reinstall Windows – just create one backup and restore it whenever you need to “reinstall” Windows; restoration is always automated. I personally prefer the image-backup approach over MultiSet and vLite/nLite for on-the-job-needs and at home (fyi EASEUS Todo Backup is freeware so IT professionals can use it for their jobs while Macrium Reflect is free for home use only).
{/rw_verdict2} –>

Share this post

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

15 comments

  1. Kim Graae Munch

    @Fred:
    Thank you, It’s as I guessed. The most problematic should be the screen driver, but it should be possible to reset it in a system boot. Nice to be remembered about boot.ini, as I (nearly) haven’t thought about it or win.ini since the win95 days.

  2. Fred

    If the hardware differences aren´t too big there should be no problem in running the system with another PC. I moved Windows98 a lot without any problem ever occured and XP also most time without probs (you need to reactivate it but that´s no big deal). Only one time the boot.ini needed to be fixed cause master / slave setting was changed. Silly XP.

  3. Kim Graae Munch

    @Ron:
    Thank you, it looks good, only one problem, it has to be installed on the system which should be moved. I don’t know if it’s possible to get it running in protected mode on another machine, and start from there.

  4. Matt

    @M@: As far as restoring to differnet hardware (HAL). The lateset Acronis claims to do that if I understand the box. I picked it up but have not used it yet. What do you think? Maybe you can get them on GOTD? Thanks

  5. davidroper

    (So vlite and nlite are freeware and liked by Ashraf) vs. ($99 software with a “2″ in it) = Keep for later use … is the equation? Easy to solve for me.

    Sorry for all the math. I just wanted to prove something today.

  6. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Kim Graae Munch: You said “I have an existing system where the mother board dies and can’t get the same type again.” Can you please clarify? Does that mean you are unable to boot into your computer (i.e. dead motherboard) or you can boot into your computer but it closes after a while (i.e. bad motherboard).

    @Fred: I am sure you also wouldn’t be amused when you use your CD created w/ MultiSet and find out the product key you enter is wrong =). I agree that it will be tedious to type in a product key twice, but in my opinion this is one of those annoying preventative measures that are a necessary to avoid future catastrophe.

  7. vortex

    My O/S-recovery strategy is:
    1. EAZ-Fix Pro* (~$50) [or RollBackRX] snapshot rollback software.
    2. Imaging (e.g., Macrum) [built into EAZ-Fix Pro].
    3. Cloning to a separate HDD & partition.
    4. Never found a good “home” solution for Kim’s question.

    *I am NOT associated with EAZ-Solutions in ANY way (other than being a home user). This program is worth its weight in gold. It has saved the need for my wife and I to ever evoke images, clones & re-install CDs. It snapshots EVERYTHING on the boot drive (or Disk0 if you want) and NOT just the system settings (the way the Windows System Restore snapshot does).

  8. Fred

    @Kim Graae Munch
    I couldn´t really find a software like that. You can use an uninstaller like Zsoft Uninstaller and read out the keys from the protocol.
    Or backup your registry frequently.
    I backup the installation files from the giveaways (that are extracted to your “temp” folder) and if easily possible the keys too (if shown in the about window). Sometimes i export registry paths if they use the normal path – or i backup the complete windows registry.
    The best software comes without key and activation – you just need to backup the installer from the temp folder (f.e. StarBurn “pro version”)

    There´s one software that does a similar job.
    Install Rite clones installations. But you need to run it with every installation you want to clone. Plus it is advised to be used only on a fresh installed system.

    @Ashraf
    I wouldn´t be amused to retype a 25 letter long product key. ;-)

  9. Kim Graae Munch

    These programs sounds pretty interesting, but I have a little harder problem which I would know if there was a solution for.

    I get a new system with preinstalled software or I have an existing system where the mother board dies and can’t get the same type again. I wan’t to move my old software from the hard disk to the new system, including software keys, not install it again.

    Are there anything that can something like that?

  10. Ron

    I completely agree about the implementation. I bought Multiset *years* ago when I saw what it could do. The doing of it was another story. Compared to other software, it’s needlessly complex, although able to do the job with occasional head banging. Never was able to use it comfortably, but the last times was 4-5 years. Maybe I’ve learned a few things since then. Time to dig into the archives. (vbg)

    I got it about the same time I bought Terabyte’s BootitNG while still on dial-up. (Another complex software for a different purpose.)

    Personally, I think this is a questionable choice for GOTD. Too many “Gotchas” if you need to re-install.

  11. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    Since my comment is sitting in moderation as we speak, I figure I should clear the air.

    Comment #2 by GMMan says:

    @Ashraf: About the product key verification, it’s somewhat expected that it doesn’t exist. To actually implement the feature, there would need to be either a system call that verifies the key, or if someone cracked the Windows activation system and figured out the formula for product keys. Of course, as to the best of my knowledge, the first option doesn’t exist, and the second one would be illegal as it would be used by many as a keygen. So in conclusion, the lack of product key verification isn’t something they really can implement, so it doesn’t really consists a “bad” and shouldn’t be counted against them.

    My response:

    @GMMan

    I know; I understand =). However, see this is where the good developers outshine the not-so-good developers: thinking outside the box =). They could simply add in a “Enter Product Key Again” box like you have to enter a password twice when registering for something to make sure the user does not include typos while entering the key.

    Why I included so many smiles I don’t know. I think I just felt really happy.