Thanks for the reply. I've gotten around this problem. The biggest problem, actually, has been InstallShield Express. It's a solid product but I just need more power from my Installer than it can provide and due to budget constraints, I can't upgrade to Professional or Developer.
What I finally deduced as the problem, and this is solely from observation is this:
When one installs MS DAO, there is a registry key that holds a count of the number of times that DAO has been installed and, by inference, how many applications are using it that must be incremented when DAO is installed and decremented when it is uninstalled. From my observation, the DAO 3.5 merge module that I have does not do this (it was written by Heath Stewart and I downloaded it from InstallShield's website).
The solution as I have found it: MS Visual Studio includes a redistributable DAO setup. I wrote a small app in VB that checks the key for existance and if it's 0, it shells to the MS DAO installer. If it's not, it does not. It's perhaps not the most elegant solution but it's stable and easy to do. I am hoping that most of my userbase already has DAO installed-- and this is highly likely.
If you or anyone else out there has a better idea or knows of a different DAO 3.5 merge module, I'd be very interested in that it would be a much more attractive solution, but I do not think that the problem lies so much in the module but in the platform. I *do* know that I will never ever undertake an installer project as complicated as the one I am working with without a more powerful version of InstallShield. Ah, lessons learned.
I hope these posts help other developers out there. The project has not been released (though it's imminent) so any responses are still pertinent and desired.
Koroberi New World Marketing