Enabling Windows Installer Logging for Windows 10

Enabling Windows Installer Logging for Windows 10

Microsoft hopes that the majority of apps you use for Windows 10 will come from the Windows Store. This means they will be modern, universal apps. But, for companies taking a dip into the Windows 10 pool, there will be many, many legacy applications to deal with, and the majority of those legacy applications still use the Windows Installer engine for installation.

The method for turning on Windows Installer logging hasn't changed for Windows 10. It's the same method used since Windows XP. But, with Windows 10 making its way onto domain-joined, centrally managed PCs, it's good to get a refresher – particularly since Windows 10 invites new potential for installation screw-ups for legacy applications.

Turning on Windows Installer logging requires a registry modification and some choices on how much or how little troubleshooting information you want to produce.

The key you need to create: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer

The new String (REG_SZ) value to create: Logging

Here's where your choices come into play. The values of the newly created Logging string can be summed up using the following word: voicewarmupx

Though voicewarmupx does sound like a valid word, it actually represents a series of commands issued to the Windows Installer service when logging is enabled. You can choose to use all of them, or just some of them, and not in any particular order. It breaks down like this:

  • v - Verbose output

  • o - Out-of-disk-space messages

  • i - Status messages

  • c - Initial UI parameters

  • e - All error messages

  • w - Non-fatal warnings

  • a - Startup of actions

  • r - Action-specific records

  • m - Out-of-memory or fatal exit information

  • u - User requests

  • p - Terminal properties

  • x - Extra debugging information. The "x" flag is available only on Windows Server 2003 and later operating systems, and on the MSI redistributable version 3.0, and on later versions of the MSI redistributable.

And, there's a couple additional values you can use to manage the log files themselves:

  • + - Append to existing file (otherwise it will create a brand new file each time)

  • ! - Flush each line to the log

If modifying the registry each time is not your bag, you can also turn on logging using Group Policies, so you can set it per machine, per groups of machines, or site wide.

One important point to remember is that Windows Installer logging can create huge files stored in the PC's %TEMP% directory. So, only use this when installations are experiencing problems and make sure to turn it off once a resolution has been found or hard disk space will fill up quickly.

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