How to uninstall from "Programs and Features" in Vista and Windows Server 2008 when you get an installer error 2869

Coordinator
Nov 7, 2008 at 2:45 PM
Edited Nov 8, 2008 at 3:16 PM
This is an issue which is related to User Access Control in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 and which all software setup built with Visual Studio 2005 might encounter from time to time even with VS2005 SP1 and the Update for Vista. See for example http://blogs.msdn.com/donsmith/archive/2006/11/30/installing-software-factories-on-vista.aspx.

Note that this issue seems random: sometimes it occurs, sometimes it does not and it is difficult to reproduce consistently.

To be able to uninstall consistently, we need to run the uninstall script as administrator which requires a specific procedure. To do that:
  1. I run the uninstall once from Control Panel -> Features and Programs with Process Monitor running and capturing events.
    Note that ProcMon.exe is just an exe to copy on the target machine. There is no setup and to uninstall simply delete the file.
    I configure Process Monitor to only show file system activity (disable registry activity and process and thread activity).
    I also setup a filter to exclude all process names which are not msiexec.exe and to include all paths which begin with C:\Windows\Installer.
    This first step shows me that uninstalling actually launches msiexec.exe with an MSI file called something like C:\Windows\Installer\630928.msi
  2. I then open a command window as administrator,
    change directory to C:\Windows\Installer, and
    run msiexec -x 630928.msi to uninstall.