Configuring Windows Vista Software Explorer

One of the questions I received in the lounge area at Tech Ed 2007 in Orlando pertained to Windows Vista Software Explorer display of applications.  Specifically it centered on the ARP* property mappings to the Software Explorer information display.  Before I get to that, many thanks to those of you that saw me present in a breakout session at Tech Ed (and understand my love of Chick-fil-A® and how much I miss it while living in the Pacific Northwest).  Here’s a “shout out” to those of you that were there!  Thanks for coming!

Software Explorer is the new name of what was formerly called Add/Remove Programs (ARP) on prior Windows operating systems.  There have been a few modifications to the information displayed and how you navigate around the user interface, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to identify what values correspond to MSI properties and installation.  Many of you may already be familiar with the information as some of the basics are provided in the MSDN topic: Configuring Add/Remove Programs with Windows Installer.  The MSI properties haven’t changed, but here’s how they map to the Software Explorer UI.  Note: If you specify the ARPSYSTEMCOMPONENT property in your installation with a value of 1, then your application is only displayed in Software Explorer if you provide your own additional HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall key specification.

First, the default Software Explorer view hides some of the information from you.  The default view does not include all of the possible display information.  The initial set is Name, Published, Installed On, and Size.

Software Explorer Default

The view is configurable, so you can specify additional information that you’d like to include by simply right-clicking on the column header and then choosing “More…”:

Software Explorer Configuration

Which then presents you with the column list to choose the detail information:

Software Explorer Column Selection

And given the column list, here’s the mapping of column list identities to MSI properties (much of this maps to existing Add/Remove Programs mapping info that’s already documented on MSDN in the topic: Uninstall Registry Key):

Column Identity (Detail)

MSI Property





Installed On

Determined and set by MSI


Determined and set by MSI



Help Link


Support Link


Update Info Link




Last Used On

Determined and set by Software Explorer



Product ID

ProductID property available via MsiGetProductInfo[Ex] API



Registered Company

COMPANYNAME property available via MsiGetProductinfo[Ex] API

Registered Owner

USERNAME property available via MsiGetProductInfo[Ex] API



Support Telephone



Determined and set by Software Explorer



Hopefully you now have a better idea of how your MSI package authoring impacts the Software Explorer display.


[Author:Carolyn Napier]

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Comments (6)

  1. johnw says:

    It would be very interesting to see statistics on this via the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP).

    I suspect that very few end users (and IT Administrators) will see this information due to how it is accessed in the UI.  

  2. I noticed an interesting post on the Windows Installer team blog that I wanted to draw some more attention

  3. I noticed an interesting post on the Windows Installer team blog that I wanted to draw some more attention

  4. It looks like from the screen shots that the name is Programs and Features.  Does this thing have 2 names?  Where does the "Software Explorer" name come from if that’s not what you’re calling it in the GUI that millions of people are using?

  5. asrhael says:

    Hi,my name is francisco chavez and i try to install ms office 2007 from my original cdrom,but a windows installer error is prompt me. a protected file can not be accesed by the windows installer.

    I read topics so update windows installer and i go to microsoft download center and install the windows installer 3.1.4000.2435 but i dont have results,the problem is on the run 🙁

    i try to delete de msiexec file and reinstall the upgrade but the result is the same.

    thanks you very much

  6. Tim Owers says:

    It’s a shame this blog of all blogs is not updated with new entries a little more often!