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Quick Tip Corner: Running Windows Installers on Windows Server

When installers don't do their job, it can be a frustrating experience to troubleshoot, especially on Windows. Read on to find out one solution to a particular installation problem.

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I recently came across this particular scenario whilst attempting to install a driver package on Windows Server 2008 R2 and figured that others might have run into a similar situation.

The Problem

While logged into an account on Windows Server 2008 R2 that had administrator privileges, I needed to install a package bundled in the traditional MSI format. Double-clicking on the file, nothing happened.

Going into a shell (even with administrative privileges), I tried running the .msi file from there. The same thing happened but with the message, "Access is denied".

Thinking back to days past when I used the Windows shell more exclusively, I recalled the msiexec command. To be safe, I ran it with the "administrator" switch, i.e. msiexec /a package.msi.

Ah ha! This time, an installer wizard GUI was produced; however, after only one window, the "finished" screen came up. I had been expecting the configuration wizard to carry on at least a couple more steps.

Clicking "Finish" and checking the Event Viewer, the logs indicated that the installer had successfully completed and that the package had been installed.


It was simple enough for me to verify that none of the files from the package had been installed.

After trying the same process a few more times to make sure I wasn't imagining things or making a simple mistake, the same result happened each time.

The Solution

After much consternation on my part and several rabbit holes, I found that replacing the administrative switch for msiexec with the installer switch (i.e. "/i") solved my issue: The installer wizard came up and, this time, I was presented with all of the configuration options I was expecting.

Completing the wizard did, in fact, install the files I needed.

Hopefully this saves someone some headaches down the road.

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windows,windows server,msi,installer,problem,solution,tip

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