Windows Installer pain

I can't believe that it should be this hard to create a solid Windows Installer MSI. Sure, there's a bunch of applications out there which can make your life easier, but the good ones aren't exactly cheap.

It seems strange that Microsoft are pushing MSI and Wix and yet there's no easy way of creating them. As far as I understand it, according to this, Microsoft are phasing out the Windows installer project that came with VS2010 in the next version, I guess in favour of the limited edition of InstallShield.
"Future versions of Visual Studio will not include the Visual Studio Installer project templates."

Don't get me wrong, InstallShield is a really nice and simple environment, but if you want to start doing anything slightly complicated, or compile for 64-bit, you have to stump up to the Professional or Premium editions which start getting quite expensive!

I wonder if there are are decent integrated solutions out there that don't require quite a bit of hand crafting XML against Wix?

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