ScottK - accept no imitations!
Monday, April 05, 2010
Echo 20100405 - .MSI files, the C:\Windows\Installer directory, and other Windows things – Part 1
(Note: When indicated, this is an ECHO of a blog posting from another blog of mine - I try to keep them separate, but occasionally I feel the need to increase the bandwidth of the message posted - Thanks!)

April 05, 2010

.MSI files, the C:\Windows\Installer directory, and other Windows things – Part 1

Hello, all!!

I know that I’ve been very dilatory in posting anything on my blog for some time now, but a recent series of events dealing with a few upgrades for Windows software on my main system.

Let me set the scene first: This is a very nice, self-built system comprising the following:

MSI NF750-G55 nForce 750a AMD AM3 Motherboard
AMD Athlon™ II X4 620 Box ADX620WFGIBOX AM3
Patriot G-Series 4GB DDR3 1600MHz Desktop Memory
ViXS PureTV-U 4880 NTSC & ATSC TV Tuner
Sony Multi-Card Reader
80GB Seagate ST380817 SATA
80GB Western Digital WD800JB-00JJA0 PATA
250GB Western Digital WD25 00KS-00MJB0 SATA
(3) 80GB Seagate ST380013AS SATA (RAID-0)
Sony DVD+-RW Burner
VIZIO VMM26 F201 26" LCD HD Display
HP Pavilion f1503 15" LCD Display
Microsoft Natural Wireless Ergonomic Desktop 7000 w/ Mouse
Microsoft Fingerprint Reader
Windows Media Center Remote and IR Receiver
Ergodex DX1 Custom Keypad

It’s running Windows 7 Ultimate 32 (Yes, I know….I’m doing it for hardware & software compatibility reasons), and its running very nicely. It’s also a dual-boot to XP64, so I *do* have some 64-bit OS & Software goodness in it.

In the quest to try and keep my system’s hard drive relatively junk-free, I went on a spring-cleaning rampage and cleaned-out a whole lot of things that I was absolutely certain that I did not need. Suffice it to say that in the course of events, I was somewhat less than careful. I was positive that I didn’t need all of the .MSI files for Windows software that had previously been installed on my system – software that I was positive that it would be easily upgradable at a later date.

Well, today I wanted to take a deeper look at Microsoft’s World Wide Telescope software, but I was running an older version and was informed to upgrade to the latest version. “Oh, cool!”, I thought; a newer version of WWT!!. So, I went to download and install it; lo and behold, it wouldn’t install…well, it was more like the previous version would not uninstall itself:

Product: Microsoft WorldWide Telescope -- Error 1714. The older version of Microsoft WorldWide Telescope cannot be removed. Contact your technical support group. System Error 1612.

Windows Installer installed the product. Product Name: Microsoft WorldWide Telescope. Product Version: 2.5.32. Product Language: 1033. Manufacturer: Microsoft Research. Installation success or error status: 1603.

Why? Well, apparently one of the directories and files I removed in my zealous attempt at reducing hard-drive bloat was…you guessed it…the install directory for WWT!!

I was (fortunately) able to find a previous version, run the install to remove it, and that fixed that problem…but it wouldn’t be the last!

Another prefacing: I have a *very* customized desktop for Windows 7. A total of 25 Gadgets, following everything from my system’s stats (CPU load, memory, disk space, networking, etc) to Weather, local traffic, earthquake & tsunami warnings, and time & weather for 9 time zones! Thankfully, I have two monitors on this system. I also have two programs that can bring to my desktop a selection of applications that I frequently use: one is a sidebar-like Windows application that was designed to run on Sony VAIO computers sold only in Japan (The VAIO Launcher from Sony). It contains individual tiles for applications to be dropped-on, and comes to focus when I move my mouse pointer to the left-edge of the screen. The other is a very cool application called “Circle Dock”. It presents a rotatable, circular program manager in the middle of your screen, and can be programmed to pop-up and have focus via keyboard key combinations, or any of the buttons on your mouse. I’ll post some desktop snapshots in the next couple of days or so.

Now, as I continued to check on some other things, I examined the icons on the Launcher bar, and noticed that the icon for Microsoft Intellipoint was missing. I checked the location of the app, and all seemed to be ok, so I removed it and replaced it with a copy of the actual shortcut. I then tried to launch it, and it failed with a Compatibility message from Windows:

The application (IntelliType / IntelliPoint, from vendor Microsoft) was hard-blocked and raised the following: IntelliType / IntelliPoint has a known compatibility issue with this version of Windows.

Fault bucket 568586630, type 5
Event Name: ApphelpHardBlock
Cab Id: 0

Problem signature:
P1: {11111111-1111-1111-1111-111111111111}
P2: {6da96702-c1d6-456c-ae6e-d005e6f10d3e}

Attached files:

These files may be available here:

Analysis symbol:
Rechecking for solution: 0
Report Id: 2a0b9e71-4111-11df-b7a0-001915673101
Report Status: 16

With that, I downloaded the latest version of Intellipoint to install it – you can guess the rest…FAIL!! Again, bitten by the error-bug I created by removing all of those .MSI files!

Product: Microsoft IntelliPoint 7.1 -- Error 1714. The older version of Microsoft IntelliPoint 7.1 cannot be removed. Contact your technical support group. System Error 1612.

Windows Installer installed the product. Product Name: Microsoft IntelliPoint 7.1. Product Version: 7.10.344.0. Product Language: 1033. Manufacturer: Microsoft. Installation success or error status: 1603.

By this time, I was really getting frustrated with myself, and wanted to get this resolved. Again, I was able to download the previous version, but this time around I was blocked by the fact that the version I was wanting to install threw the same Compatibility error as before. What to do, what to do!

Here is where the files were being unpacked from the MSI file:

Beginning a Windows Installer transaction: G:\266748f04fc9156dec93c19c79c2ff\ipoint\setup\IP.msi. Client Process Id: 7908.

Well, I got sneaky; I found the directory that was built by the IP32Eng6.30.191.0 installer as the Install started to unpack the files for the actual install, and copy all of them to another directory on that hard drive, and then let the Compatibility Error message go and cancel the install.

This is where I copied the entire install tree from:

Beginning a Windows Installer transaction: G:\Intellipoint 6.3\ipoint\setup\ip63.msi. Client Process Id: 7616.

After that, I dug into the new directory, and was able to run the SETUP.EXE binary (not the MSI file) and BADA-BOOM, Intellipoint 6.3 graciously and somewhat-surprisingly un-installed itself without any intervention on my part. I was then able to install Intellipoint 7.10 with no troubles.

The moral to this story is this: DON’T TOUCH THOSE INSTALLER DIRECTORIES WITH .MSI FILES!!! Make room from some other place on your hard drive before you removed them! My little escapade may give you some ideas to get around similar troubles with install & un-install troubles, especially with Compatibility Errors with Windows 7. It just takes a little ingenuity, patience and the now-common “Thinking-outside-the-box” approach to get around these issues, but the easier path is not to get yourself into these spots of trouble by planning ahead and being very careful with your Windows Installation. If you do end-up in a similar scenario, your Event Viewer under Control Panel>Administrative

Finally, about the C:\windows\installer directory. I have been experiencing some odd behavior with this directory on my system recently, specifically with permissions being changed or reverted to prevent access to the directory from the “SYSTEM” Account during installs. The error is asserted as follows:

Error 1603: A fatal error occurred during installation.

it usually means that something has happened to the permissions for C:\Windows\Installer directory to prevent access to that directory for the “SYSTEM” Account – which is crucial for .MSI and other Installer scripts.

Now, I know that you’re going to say “Scott – I don’t see that directory on my system…why?” Well, it’s an intentionally-hidden directory. To see these directories, open up a Windows Explorer window, and on the menu bar click on Tools>Folder Options – this will bring-up the Folder Options property sheet. Click on the “View” tab, and in the list below UNCHECK “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)” and click “OK”. Now, if you go into the C:Windows folder, you will now see the “Installer” folder.

To fix this error and get your Installs (or un-installs) working properly again, do the following:

To grant Full Control permissions to the SYSTEM account, follow these steps:

1. On the Windows desktop, double-click My Computer. The My Computer window appears.

2. Right-click the drive that you want to install the Windows Installer package to, and then click Properties.

3. Click the Security tab.

4. On the Security tab, do the following:
If you are using Microsoft Windows 2000, verify that the Name box contains the SYSTEM user account.

If you are using Microsoft Windows XP, verify that the Group or user names box contains the SYSTEM user account.

If the SYSTEM user account does not appear in the box, follow these steps to add the SYSTEM account to the box:
Click Add. The Select Users or Groups dialog box appears.
In the Name field, click SYSTEM, and then click Add.
Click OK.

5. In the Permissions section, click to select the Full Control check box under Allow, and then click Advanced.

6. Do the following:
If you are using Windows XP, in the dialog box that appears, click to select the Replace permission entries on all child objects with entries shown here that apply to child objects check box for the SYSTEM account, and then click OK.

If you are not using Windows XP, in the dialog box that appears, click to select the Reset permissions on all child objects and enable propagation of inheritable permissions check box for the SYSTEM account, and then click OK.
Note If you receive a security message, click Yes.

7. Wait for the operating system to apply the permissions that you have selected to all child

8. Run the Windows Installer package.

For more info on this sometimes-mysterious problem, please go to the following Microsoft KB Article:

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at scott-at-kindorf-dot-net.



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