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Windows Installer Woes

Wednesday, 2 March, 2011 @ 2:14 PM < Adam Boddington

Yesterday I tried to install the MSBuild Extension Pack on a brand new Windows Server 2008 R2 instance. I immediately got a dialog titled "Installation Incomplete" with the message...

"The installer was interrupted before MSBuild Extension Pack v4.0.2.0 could be installed. You need to restart the installer to try again."

Checking the event log found two error messages, one from Windows Installer telling me...

"Windows Installer installed the product. Product Name: MSBuild Extension Pack v4.0.2.0. Product Version: 4.0.2. Product Language: 1033. Manufacturer: Mike Fourie. Installation success or error status: 1603."

Googling "Windows Installer 1603" found a wide variety of results, including two MSDN pages each describing 1603 differently. One claimed SYSTEM didn't have enough privileges. Another claimed a required file was open. A wild goose chase ensued and in the end, neither was right.

If you have a misbehaving .msi that isn't giving a very descriptive error message, the best thing to do is turn on Windows Installer logging and check that before doing anything else. To turn it on, follow the steps in KB223300.

Registry Editor

The Installer key may not exist, you may have to create it yourself. If you don't want to use regedit.exe, you can use PowerShell instead.

cd HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows

If there is no Installer key...

New-Item Installer
New-ItemProperty Installer -Name Logging -PropertyType String -Value voicewarmupx

Run the .msi again and go back to PowerShell.

cd $env:temp
dir msi* | foreach { notepad $_ }

Go through the log and find the real problem. In my case, the .msi wanted .NET Framework 3.5 installed and wouldn't allow a later version. It tried to tell me, but the error dialog encountered its own error and failed too (something about controls and bitmaps being three pixels too wide).

I had installed .NET Framework 4.0 but checking the file system I found that didn't include a directory for .NET Framework 3.5. (Which I thought was odd, but anyway.) Installing .NET Framework 3.5 through the Add Feature Wizard fixed the issue.

Don't forget to turn off Windows Installer logging when you're done.

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Dave Thomas' Code Kata 4, Part One

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