My night fixing the dreaded “Windows Installer Service could not be accessed” error.

I spent a long time searching the Internet for a solution to this one. Each of the sites and blogs I found were all partially correct for my specific case. Let me share my symptoms:

  • Access is Denied when attempting to install XP SP3.
  • “Windows Installer service could not be accessed” error when attempting to uninstall any application using Add/Remove Programs applet.
  • The msiexec /unregister then msiexec /regserver causes an error when the second command is run.
  • In order to get any executable that has been downloaded to run I have to right-click on the icon then click the Unblock button located at the bottom right of the General Tab.
  • Internet Explorer locks up when loading any page.
  • Windows Updates fail to install.

At this point I would usually say “Fresh Install” since we are talking about Windows XP here, but I am stubborn sometimes so I poured a big glass of wine and settled in for the night. I had a suspicion from the beginning that this is all the cause of registry permissions, but couldn’t figure out where and why. Excuse me, the wine really kicked in there… Now, the solution.

Here is a link to the MS KB that is actually useful. Here is an excerpt from that KB that is what fixes the problem:

Method 1: Reset the registry and the file permissions

Important This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

322756 ( ) How to back up and restore the registry in Windows

To reset the registry and file permissions, follow these steps:

  1. Download and then install the Subinacl.exe file. To do this, visit the following Microsoft Web site: (
  2. Start Notepad.
  3. Copy and then paste the following text into Notepad.
    cd /d “%ProgramFiles%\Windows Resource Kits\Tools”
    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CURRENT_USER /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subkeyreg HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subdirectories %SystemDrive% /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    subinacl /subdirectories %windir%\*.* /grant=administrators=f /grant=system=f
    secedit /configure /cfg %windir%\repair\secsetup.inf /db secsetup.sdb /verbose

    Microsoft provides programming examples for illustration only, without warranty either expressed or implied. This includes, but is not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. This article assumes that you are familiar with the programming language that is being demonstrated and with the tools that are used to create and to debug procedures. Microsoft support engineers can help explain the functionality of a particular procedure. However, they will not modify these examples to provide added functionality or construct procedures to meet your specific requirements.

  4. Save this Notepad file as Reset.cmd.
  5. Double-click the Reset.cmd file to run the script. Note This script file may take a long time to run. You must run this script as an administrator.
  6. Install Windows XP SP3.

If this method resolved the error message and if you successfully installed Windows XP SP3, you are finished.

Really, that fixes the issue… except for the fact that you can’t install Subinacl from a stinking MSI if the Windows Installer is not working! Damn Microsoft. Think for just a minute here.

I’m done with that rant. The solution to Microsoft being stupid and limited becuase of the Installer and Registry technology they have designed is to install the Subinacl.msi on another computer, or just extract it and copy the whole Windows Support Tools directory (and subdirectories) to the Program Files folder on the computer having the problem(s). Since the path already includes %systemroot%\Program Files\ anything in there will run just fine from the command line or Start – Run. This is the point where you create the .cmd file from the excerpt or KB article above and run it. At completion you should be able to install XP SP3, remove applications using Add/Remove Programs and run downloaded executables with no problems. You shouldn’t even need to restart your computer.

One more glass of wine and off to bed. Cheers, good luck and hope this helps someone.

Ubuntu 9.04

I am very happy to give thanks and kudos the Ubuntu team on this release. It builds on a solid release of 8.10. One of the best things about this new release is the fact that I was able to install it using a wireless keyboard and mouse. I am still having issues when switching back (KVM involved here) to the Ubuntu box from my Windows desktop or server. Linux just doesn’t seem to like the idea of probing for USB when switching back and forth on a KVM. I haven’t figured out if this is due to Linux or my MOBO. I have read a lot of similar accounts online from people using different KVMs and MOBOs so I have to assume this is a Linux USB probing issue. I am using a nice Avocent USB KVM for reference to anyone. This works great with the Microsoft wireless 7000 keyboard/mouse combo I am using.

Random Friday night with a beer…

This has been a busy week. The stock market is up, that is good. My Network Consulting business will increase revenue next month, that is good. My baby girl is sleeping better after the time change, Yay! We actually sold a condo in this craptastic real estate market (Southern California) and escrow closes in about a week, Wow! These are all good thing that make the busy, crazy life of a Network Consultant better. Now on to fun stuff.

I wrote my first Cocoa application using XCode this week. As a note, I have a MacBook Pro that I use to do all my network support. The majority of my clients have a Windows infrastructure and I never have any issues managing them with an Apple. It is a very simple app that display our web-based monitoring system in a clean window. There is even a little fade in animation when the page loads. Pretty cool since I have never coded in C or anything like it before.

I am playing with a site running Laconica. It is an open source micro-blogging application (like Twitter) but it allows you to run your own server and subscribe to someone who is blogging on a totally different server (example I run a server and am subscribed to Leo Laporte on his server. Very nice idea. Check out the site at They are good guys and if you want to play with your own site there is great help on the IRC channel they have. I just finished my Heineken, I think I should have another… got it. This one is a Blue Moon. It’s a nice Belgian style wheat ale. Interesting flavor. This beer tastes so good that I am done writing now.

Southern California Living

I am sitting here drinking a Fat Tire Ale and reflecting on the day. The weather was nice today. It was about 66 degrees F. I took my 19 month old daughter out running with me, she rides in a BOB offroad stroller. It is great, she really loves being in there under the giant sun shade. We ran down to the lake where there is playground that she loves to play at. There are geese and ducks that live near the playground which are always a big hit when the geese start honking at each other. If you are a busy, active parent I can’t recommend enough taking your kids running with you. It is such a great way to get your kids outdoors and get a workout while spending time with your kids. Our run to the lake is always the best part of the weekend.

Plugin Test

This is a test post for a new plugin.

The Holidaze

Is it me or does time pass much faster around the holidays? I am definitely feeling the days slip by faster than it should be possible. What causes this feeling? Is it stress, anxiety, or possibly excitement? I am interested in why the change in mental state causes one to observe time to pass at a different speed. Anyone have ideas or links to studies? If so, tell me about them.

Tivo is good

Just a quick love blurb about my Tivo. It is recording House for me while I watch the Lakers game. How cool isit thatyou can totally forget when your favorite shows are on and they still get recorded? My little Tivo, it’s like intelligent life living in the cabinet under my television.


Here I sit at a client listening to Windows Weekly with Paul Thurrott and Leo Laporte. Thank goodness for podcasts to prevent severe boredom while working on Windows networks.

Also, I just installed my 4 GB of memory in my MacBook Pro purchased for a whopping $55.99 from They rock for good deals on memory. On the Mac thoughts, I have growing excitement about OS 10.6 coming in the next year. It will include performance improvements, be truly 64 bit, and supposedly have native support for Exchange in the Mail App. It would be great to not have to use Entourage to connect to my Exchange server. I don’t like using POP3 or IMAP on Exchange, it just bugs me. Enough of that now. My baby girl is 18 months old. She is amazing! We did just all get over a cold that she caught from a neighbor kid. That is never fun. Sick with a sick kid is pretty exhausting. Nobody sleeps well. Sucks big.

Microsoft actually released the Mac client for Live Mesh. I have it installed on my MacBook Pro and it syncs some of my scripts that I write so I can access them from my Windows machine(s) and anywhere I have access to my Live Mesh Desktop. It is very cool. If you don’t want the whole Live Mesh Desktop you can also use there FolderSync product. That software also supports Mac OS X and Windows. The only thing is that you can have both the Mesh and FolderSync software installed since they use similar technology to do what they do. You must pick one or the other.

I am excited about the upcoming release of WordPress MU 2.7. This site will definitely be upgraded when that release comes out. Also, check out running the most current Laconica release. A great, federated server model microblogging (like Twitter) application. The beauty of Laconica is that I can run a server and subscribe to a user who posts on a totally different domain and server. It also supports linking your Laconica account to an existing Twitter account, and posting from IM (i.e. Jabber/gmail). Definitely cool. I am in a state of Tech Happiness right now. There are so many applications/technologies out that have such promise it makes me happy to be in the tech industry.


I am tired now, very tired. Friday morning started great, got up and went running. That felt good. When I got home I had a message waiting for me from the CTO of a credit union in Portland saying that my website was being used for a phishing attack on the credit union customers. No way! That sucks! I quickly got onto my web server and started to check things out as I called the CTO. It appears that my web server was compromised through Dotnetnuke. I haven’t updated it in a while and apparently there is a massive security hole in the version that I was running. This exploit allowed the attacker to upload files to my web server. They installed a piece of software that collects data from web site forms. An an instance of WAMP to run the fake site and allow them to collect data from the phishing attack. I have all the logs and folders from the attack and will turn everything over to the authorities. I must once again say, that sucks!

Feeling Good

I worked all day, came home and had some super tasty gumbo that my wife made, then took the baby out for a jacuzzi. I feel good. The baby is asleep, my wife and I are relaxed and get to have some time together. Life is pretty good some days.

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