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Software installations performed by the Windows Installer Service (MSIEXEC) are distributed in the form of .MSI files. Similarly, updates for these products are distributed in the form of .MSP files, which are installed alongside the original (.MSI) product to update the installation.

Installations of these products may fail for a variety of reasons and when this happens, it is useful to obtain a log of the installation. This can be configured in real-time with command-line options passed to the MSIEXEC executable to apply to a specific installation operation, or configured within Windows to apply to all installations. This configuration can also be performed locally on a computer or server in the registry, or it can be distributed to multiple domain-joined computers via Group Policy.

Tip

The logs created by Windows Installer can be analysed using the Windows Installer Verbose Log Analyzer (WiLogUtl.exe) which can be downloaded from Microsoft.

First, decide if these settings will be included in an existing Group Policy Object, or if a new one will be created. If a new policy will be created, decide also where in the domain to create it - should it be at the root domain level to apply to all domain members, or should be be deployed to select OUs.

Note

The settings for the Windows Installer Service take effect at the computer level and not at the user level. Choose an OU that contains computer objects instead of, or as well as, user objects when choosing where to create this policy.

Launch the Group Policy Management Console and, if creating a new policy, navigate to the OU it will be created under and create the new GPO, assigning it an appropriate name. Once the new policy has been created, right-click to edit it.

If editing an existing policy, expand the Group Policy Objects container and edit the desired policy.

Once the policy editor opens, navigate down to Computer ConfigurationPoliciesAdministrative TemplatesWindows ComponentsWindows Installer in the tree. Double click on the Logging setting to apply the desired configuration.

Tip

Other properties of the Windows Installer Service can also be configured through Group Policy.

By default, the option for this setting will show Not Configured, meaning that settings configured locally on domain members will take effect, or settings passed manually to the MSIEXEC executable. A description of the default behaviour, which logs some but not all information, is included in the dialog.

Change the setting to Enabled, decide which log items to include and enter the chosen options in the text field. The options available are:

i - Status messages
w - Non-fatal warnings
e - All error messages
a - Start up of actions
r - Action-specific records
u - User requests
c - Initial UI parameters
m - Out-of-memory
p - Terminal properties
v - Verbose output
o - Out of disk space messages
x - Extra debugging information

While enabling more options will somewhat increase the time taken to complete an installation and will require slightly more disk space to write the log file, logging all available options will greatly assist when investigating the cause of an installation failure and is recommended. To enable this, enter all of the options in the text field, as the string iwearucmpvox.

Press OK to close the dialog and close the policy editor. When the Group Policy configuration next refreshes on the applicable domain members, the new logging settings will take effect for any future installations.