Appropriate icon for Windows 8 installer

I'm trying to figure out which icon I'm supposed to (and allowed to) ship with my installer. I'd rather not use a custom one, as many apps (including some of Microsoft's own, such as Office and Visual Studio) do these days. I want the icon to be recognizable as "this installs a piece of software", not "the graphics designer had a little too much fun".

So, I went through the common icons in recent versions of Windows, all of which tend to be found, still, on a current version:

  • the icon for .msi files is still, as of the current Windows 10 Technical Preview, the 15-years-old Office 2000 / Windows Installer 1.0 one. It maxes out at 32x32 and lacks an alpha channel. This means, for instance, that it is scaled awkwardly when put on the Desktop.

    .msi icon

  • Windows XP introduced a new style. Plenty of application installers still ship with this today.

    XP-style setup icon

  • Here's Vista's style. I rarely see this used by third parties.

    Vista-style setup icon

  • And, lastly, that of Windows 8. Same: third parties don't appear to use it.

    Win8-style setup icon

  • Bonus: ClickOnce bootstrapper setup.exe files created with recent versions of Visual Studio have an icon that's hard to describe kindly, and oddly also once again lacks anything larger than 32x32.

    ClickOnce bootstrapper setup icon

The Windows 8 one I find the most appealing. It may be a little too generic, but it connotes "running this puts something on your machine" without suggesting legacy technology like floppies or optical discs (my app is distributed over the Web).

However, given that I've never seen an app use this icon, I'm wondering if it's merely a trend that people prefer to ship their own custom icons (or, lazily, still use the extremely dated MSI one), or if Microsoft doesn't want us using it. I couldn't find a license.

The closest to guidelines I've found are these, which haven't been updated since Vista(!) and don't go into details on which standard icons to use when and where. (The Standard Icons article only refers to four icons. Four.)

So, where do I find guidelines and licenses for a setup icon I'm supposed and permitted to use?


According to this answer, these installations icons are system-wide. Therefore you should not bother to think about them. According to your system (XP,Vista,...), they will have different icons as you already pointed out.

If you are using .exe file for installation, in addition to MSI file, I suggest you use your company icon or project icon for your .exe file.