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HP and Compaq PCs - Error: The Windows Installer service failed to start.

This document pertains to HP and Compaq desktop PCs with Windows XP.
One of the following errors occurs when attempting to install a software application using Windows installer:
  • The software application does not install.
  • One of the following error messages appears on the screen:
    • The Windows Installer service could not be accessed. Contact your support personnel to verify that the Windows Installer service is properly registered.
    • The Windows Installer service failed to start. Contact your support personnel.
    • Internal Error
    These errors may occur if one or more of the Windows Installer files are missing or damaged

Resolving the error

To resolve the error, use the following steps:

Step 1 - Reregister Windows Installer

  1. Exit all open programs.
  2. Click Start, Run, type msiexec /unregister in the Open box, and click OK.
  3. Click Start, Run, type msiexec /regserver in the Open box, and click OK.
  4. Restart the computer and try to install the software application again.
    If the error still occurs, continue to the next Step.

Step 2 - Remove and replace Windows Installer files

  1. Exit all open programs.
  2. Click Start, Run, type msiexec /unregister in the Open box, and click OK.
  3. Open Windows Explorer and rename the following files in the C:\Windows\System32 folder:
    • Msi.dll (rename to Msi_old.dll)
    • Msihnd.dll (rename to Msihnd_old.dll)
    • Msiexec.exe (rename to Msiexec_old.exe)
  4. Restart the PC and try to install the software application again.
    If the error still occurs, continue to the next Step.

Step 3 - Restart Windows XP in Safe Mode

  1. Restart your PC.
    After the first screen appears, press F8 and select Safe Mode.
  2. Go to Resolution 1 and follow the steps in Safe Mode.
  3. If the problem still exists follow the steps in Resolution 2 in Safe Mode.

Related support

Microsoft support article 884016, Windows Installer 3.0 is available (in English).
Microsoft support article 316434, How to perform advanced clean-boot troubleshooting in Windows XP (in English).

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