Windows XP Installer Problems

by on October 29, 2007

Q: I recently reformatted and reinstalled Windows XP Pro with SP2, which came bundled on a CD from the University I attend. Once I installed Windows XP Pro I ran Windows Update and ever since I have been having issues installing programs. I believe the issue is with the new Windows installer that was installed because when I try to install anything I get an error message saying, “msiexec.exe has encountered a problem and needs to close”. Is there anything I can do besides reformatting and reinstalling?

A: There is a Microsoft article entitled Error 1719: The Windows Installer service could not be accessed” error message when you try to add or remove a program. Basically, the article gives you two options. The first is to “re-register the Windows Installer.” The second option is to “Reinstall the Windows Installer. Both of these procedures are rather technical. You might find it to be less difficult to reinstall XP. Usually, I prefer to summarize Microsoft articles because it is easier for users to understand. In this case, due to the highly technical nature of these procedures, I am providing the original text. I have edited the text only slightly for clarity and to eliminate instructions not for 32-bit Windows XP:

Method 1: Re-register the Windows Installer

Verify the location of the Msiexec.exe file on your hard disk. To do so:

  1. Click Start, and then click Search.
  2. Click All files and folders.
  3. In the File name box, type msiexec.exe and then click Search.
  4. In the search results, make a note of the location of the Msiexec.exe file. The location of the Msiexec.exe file should be similar to C:\Windows\System32.

Verify the location of the Msiexec.exe file in the Windows Registry. To do so:

  1. Click Start and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type regedit, and then click OK.
  3. Locate, and then click the following registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\MSIServer.
  4. In the right pane, double click ImagePath.
  5. In the Edit String dialog box, make sure that the string in the Value data box contains the correct path of the Msiexec.exe file on your hard disk that you determined earlier. For example, if the Msiexec.exe file is located in the C:\Windows\System32 folder on your hard disk, the correct path of the Msiexec.exe file in the Value data box is the following path [without the period], C:\Windows\System32\Msiexec.exe /V. If the Value data box does not contain the correct path, make the appropriate changes to correct the path, and then click OK. Quit Registry Editor.

Start your computer in safe mode and then register the Msiexec.exe file. To do so:

  1. Shut down, and then restart your computer.
  2. Press F8 [as the computer is restarting]
  3. On the Windows Advanced Option menu, use the arrow keys to select Safe Mode and then press ENTER.
  4. If you use a dual-boot or multiple-boot computer, select the appropriate operating system from the list that is displayed and then press ENTER.
  5. Log on to the computer.
  6. Click Start, click Run, type msiexec /regserver, and then click OK

Shut down, and then restart your computer in standard mode [should be selected automatically during restart]. If the issue persists and you still receive the error message then follow the steps in Method 2.

Method 2: Reinstall the Windows Installer

To reinstall the Windows Installer, rename the damaged Windows Installer files, and then reinstall the Windows Installer. To do so:

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type cmd, and then click OK.
  3. At the command prompt, type attrib -r -s -h c:\windows\system32\dllcache, and then press ENTER [This assumes that your hard drive is letter C and the path to the Windows Installer files is C:\windows\system32].

At the command prompt, type the following lines, pressing ENTER after each line:

  1. ren msi.dll msi.old
  2. ren msiexec.exe msiexec.old
  3. ren msihnd.dll msihnd.old

At the command prompt, type exit, and then press ENTER. Restart your computer. Update the Windows Installer files on your hard disk to the latest version. [The latest for Windows XP appears to be Windows Installer 3.1 Redistributable (v2)]. Shut down your computer, and then restart it in standard mode.

I hope that you have had “fun” following these procedures! If either of these methods fail, it is probably best for you to reinstall Windows XP. In my experience, MSI errors usually appear after installing and/or uninstalling older versions of Microsoft Office. I recommend that you apply all updates to Windows XP before installing any programs.