Windows SDK Hidden Gems: Part 1

Windows Installer Verbose Log Analyzer (WiLogUtl.exe)


I, like many before me, have downloaded the Windows SDK, installed it, and moved on to more pressing problems. Other than digging into header files, I had rarely looked at what else might be included.  As the builder of the SDK, I now have a vested interest in what is delivered with the SDK, and I thought I’d share some of the interesting jewels I’ve found.


Installed by default to “C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\[version number]\Bin\WiLogUtl.exe”, the Windows Installer Verbose Log Analyzer is a tool to assist in identifying most critical installer errors, and offer possible solutions to those errors.  This tool is available in the standalone Windows SDKs and in the Windows SDK components that ship in Visual Studio 2008.


Upon launching the tool, the user is presented with a history of past logs viewed and a preview of the latest log.


Windows Installer Verbose Log Analyzer (WiLogUtl.exe) - Twango


Installer log files are usually stored in the user’s temp folder. A quick way to find installer logs is to press the ellipsis (…) button, type %temp% in the file name entry, then press enter. The preview is invaluable for identifying log files when you have a directory full of MSI[random char].LOG files.


After loading the log file, just press Analyze. You will be presented with a dialog that breaks out errors, possible solutions, client and server side details, and allows you to view particulars about the install such as states, properties, and policies. There is also an html view of the log available that color codes all lines into various categories, making the file much easier to read.


Windows Installer Verbose Log Analyzer (WiLogUtl.exe) - Twango


The detailed log file view allows you to cycle through individual errors without slogging through an entire installer file. Additional windows display the machine states at the time of the install, view machine and user policies, or look at the properties the MSI is using. Properties are the equivalent of variables in programming.


Windows Installer Verbose Log Analyzer (WiLogUtl.exe) - Twango


Additionally, there is an option to view a color coded version of the log in your browser. There are also options to get more information about a particular error, and a brief walkthrough on how to read an installer log file.


You can also run the tool in quiet mode from a command line.  This article on MSDN details the command line options to do so.


In coming months, I will be presenting more of these hidden gems. Hopefully, I can find one that will make your life easier one day.





Windows SDK Builder


Comments (7)

  1. Curtis Smith one of the Developers on the Windows SDK team I work most closely with, has started a series

  2. Curtis, our Windows SDK Builder, has published the first in a series of ‘Windows SDK ‘Hidden Gems’ blog

  3. The Windows SDK provides support for development with Win32/64 and .NET Framework programming models

  4. As the builder of the Windows SDK, I have a vested interest in what is delivered with the SDK. I’m sharing

  5. I’ve been writing about some of the useful but sometimes overlooked tools in the Windows Software Development

  6. DumbBrit says:

    Do you take feature requests here? If so, I’d like to lobby for the ability to pass the path to the logfile you wish to analyse on the command line and have WILogUtl start in interactive mode having opened the log in question; if I have the necessary CLI switch then I can add "View with WILogUtl" to the shell’s right-click menu for relevant extensions. TIA.

  7. CurtisSmi says:

    Thank you for your suggestion. A feature request has been filed with the team that handles WILogUtl.exe

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