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Software Installation operation fails

Updated: March 2, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

An application could not be installed or uninstalled. One or more of these software installation operations fails: installing, uninstalling, upgrading, and reinstalling software.


The cause of the failure depends on the type of operation that failed: an uninstall, install, reinstall, or the domain controller query to determine administrative policy. The event logs indicate that software was assigned in addition to being installed. Assignment is simply the first phase of an installation. For troubleshooting purposes, treat assignment failures in the same manner as installation failures.

Possible causes include:

Uninstall failure:

  • The Group Policy Software Installation extension might need to uninstall software.

  • The system is using a file that needs to be accessible when the application is uninstalled.

  • The Windows Installer package that was used to deploy the application was authored incorrectly.

Install or reinstall failure:

  • The installation source for the software is not available.

  • The application is already installed on the computer but has a different set of transforms from the application deployed through Group Policy.

  • An existing application on the computer conflicts with the application and is preventing it from being installed.

  • The Windows Installer package of the deployed application is incorrectly authored.

Upgrade failure:

  • The Group Policy Software Installation extension attempted to upgrade an application, but was unable to do so due to an installation or uninstallation error; the event logs provide additional information.

Domain Controller query failed:

  • The Group Policy Software Installation extension could not access the network, and was not able to query a domain controller for the user or computer.


To troubleshoot software installation issues, try one or more of the following:

  • Determine whether any other related events are logged in Event Viewer. Windows Installer usually logs a related event that provides details about why the operation could not be completed.

  • Check for errors in any application deployed to the computer and look for Windows Installer events.

  • Enable logging for Application Management and Windows Installer.

  • Log on to another computer as an administrator, verify that the application can be manually installed and uninstalled on that computer. If this verification fails, the problem is probably a software issue. Contact the software support provider.

  • In the case of an install or uninstall failure, manually uninstall the software.

  • If the event indicated that the transforms of the deployed application are different from the transforms of an instance of the same application already installed on the computer, deploy a new version of the application that has the same set of transforms as the existing installation, and then remove the deployment that has the conflict.

    Deployment changes can be made by a network administrator with the right to manage Group Policy objects (GPOs) in the Windows domain of the user or computer.

  • If the problem is the Group Policy Software Installation extension failing to access network information related to software installation policy, run the Ping, DCdiag.exe, and the Nslookup tools on the computer that is having the problem. This helps determine where on the network the problem is occurring.

  • You can use Group Policy to enable logging for Windows Installer by using the Logging policy setting in the Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Installer node of Group Policy Object Editor.

  • You can use the Software Installation Diagnostics tool (addiag.exe) to gather additional diagnostic information. You can run addiag.exe /? from a command prompt for information about the syntax.

To learn more about the tools that you can use to force an application uninstall, see the Windows Installer documentation. For more information about Windows Installer, see the MSDN article Roadmap to Windows Installer Documentation on the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=21878).

For information about Windows Installer event entries, see the MSDN article Event Logging on the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=21877).

For more information about enabling Windows Installer Logging for Windows XP clients, see How to Enable Windows Installer Logging in Windows XP on the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=35731).

For more information about enabling Windows Installer Logging for Windows 2000 computers, see How to Enable Windows Installer Logging on the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=35593).

For more information about using DCDiag, see DCDiag and NetDiag in Windows 2000 Facilitate Domain Join and DC Creation on the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=20908).

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