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Installer targeting WI 3.1 fails when WI 4.

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 10:52

We have an installer package authored with InstallShield 2009, targeting Windows Installer 3.1.

Recently, we started to notice that sometime, when installing on some Windows 2003 R2 x86 based hosts, the installation fails, and the installer log report a 1603 error code (which by the way, doesn't really help much, as it means ERROR_INSTALL_FAILURE, that is a very generic "A fatal error occurred during installation.").

As the installation is still working on some other hosts on that very same platform, after further investigation we found out it was happening on hosts where Sql Server 2008 R2 was already installed, which leaded us to find out the issue is really with Windows Installer 4.5.

Whenever Windows Installer 4.5 was installed by an installer package, our installer package is failing with 1603. So far, we found as a work around: if we manually uninstall Windows Installer 4.5 (running something like "C:\WINDOWS\$NtUninstallKB942288-v4$\spuninst\spuninst.exe"), we can then run our installer package successfully, but this has various drawbacks:
  • the user who uninstall Windows Installer 4.5 is prompted with a dialog listing all the various software products installed using that, and effectively the link between those products and Windows Installer 4.5 is lost after uninstalling that, even if we reinstall it after successfully installing our application;
  • as Microsoft released various version of Windows Installer 4.5, the location of the utility to uninstall that is not strictly the one given above;
  • It is awkward to ask customers to perform such a work around.
I suppose upgrading the installer package to target Windows Installer 5 may solve the issue, but if possibile I would like to avoid it, and continuing to use InstallShield 2009 to author this specific package (note: we have also InstallShield 2012 Spring, and we will probably use it for the newer versions of that application, but it is quite a daunting prospect to have to go back and upgrade all previous branches we still plan to have major releases from in the next couple of years).

I have scoured the Microsoft and Flexera Knowledge Bases (and I am continuing my investigation), with no avail so far.

Does anyone knows if Microsoft or Flexera, or any other third party, have published an hotfix, or some further info, about this issue?

P.S.: I made the same question on Stack Overflow and on Flexera InstallShield 2009 forum.

Edited by aledeniz, 18 June 2012 - 10:55.


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Posted 18 June 2012 - 10:57

Sorry about the title, the one I used on SO ("Installer package targeting Windows Installer 3.1 fails when Windows Installer 4.5 has been installed") was too long, and while I was trying to shorten it, I clicked inadvertently the return key by mistake.