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.

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Hi there.
Great installation help…thanks, fixed my problem.
Anyone reading this guys stuff should bookmark it.

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