Request for suggestions for updating the 1603 KB article?

Feedback on our existing Knowledge Base article for the error 1603 is that 'it is not very useful.'

My first thought to update the KB would be to go over the troubleshooting techniques such as verbose logging and then how to find and read the errors in the log.

Before proceeding to writing, I thought I'd check-in with the Windows Installer community via this blog.

Are there things besides troubleshooting info you would recommend get covered in the 1603 KB?

Thanks for your consideration.

[Author: Robert Flaming]
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Comments (6)

  1. The article as is implies a short list of reasons why this error occurs.

    A more "user friendly" log would be useful, it’s output seems to assume only a SMALL subset of EXPERTS will ever want to look at it or understand it. In actual fact it should be able to be read and largely understood by the users who are installing the msi (that is without any Windows Installer skills).

  2. No one of consequence says:

    The endless stream of cryptic & useless error messages generated by the Windows Installer service – and Microsoft’s utter failure to document why these errors occur, and what their customers can do to fix / prevent them – is one of the reasons why I switched my employer’s Windows products to InnoSetup.

    Works great, runs a few orders of magnitude faster, no MSI cruft hidden in random directories around the disk or in undocumented, unfindable registry keys, and when the setup fails it’s *easy* to figure out why and fix the problem.

  3. zhakim says:

    Thanks for your valuable feedback Dennis.

    As I typed up my response, it became a bit to big for what I usually see in comments so I reformatted it to a separate blog entry at



  4. Windows Installer expert Dennis Bareis responded to a previous post, Request for suggestions for updating

  5. Robert, I agree that this article should either contain, or link to, trouble shooting steps. 1603 is a genereic error, the real cause for the problem is typically listed in the log someline above 1603. So steps should include generating and interpreting a log file and also looking at the event log. Most of these steps would apply to setup debugging tasks in general, not just for sdetups failing with error 1603. Therefore it might be better to create something like a white paper.

    Also, information should be targetted at two different audiences (so it may be better to have tow documents): setup developers and end users. End users can fix the encrypted folders issue, but not a failing custom action, for instance.

    The KB article currently documents otherwise undocumneted causes for failure (as far as I know the SDK doesn’t say that encrypted folders or subst are unsopported). But there are many other problems that can result in 1603.

  6. Microsoft is planning to improve knowledge base article 834484 which discusses Windows Installer error

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