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Thoughts about setup and deployment issues, WiX, XNA, the .NET Framework and Visual Studio

Finding Windows Installer help documentation (AKA where did MSI.chm go?)

Finding Windows Installer help documentation (AKA where did MSI.chm go?)

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I received an email yesterday from an individual who had just installed the latest Windows Installer Platform SDK and had read a previous blog post that I wrote about using msi.chm for Windows Installer help information, but was unable to find msi.chm on his system.  I took a look on our internal products server and couldn't find msi.chm there either, so I decided to go to the Platform SDK site and figure out what was going on.  What I found is that I was basing the information in that blog entry about msi.chm on what appears to be an older version of the Platform SDK that I had downloaded a while ago and then just copied msi.chm off to a separate location.

I tried out a new download of the Windows Installer part of the Platform SDK, and it appears they have re-organized the help documentation for the entire SDK.  Instead of having standalone CHM files for each product in the SDK, there is now a unified Platform SDK help collection and each individual product plugs in and registers an HXS (compiled help) file.

So what I had to do was launch the Platform SDK Documentation link on the Start menu after installation of the SDK.  From there I was able to use the index and search that I normally use in my old copy of msi.chm, and as an added bonus there are updated topics for Windows Installer 3.0 and some of the incorrect info in my old version of msi.chm have been fixed.

Sorry for any confusion I created in my original post....


  • Fantastic info. Thanks a lot.
  • I was trying to install Quicktime 7.0 on my computer and half-way through the installation it posted a warning, "ERROR: -1603 FATAL ERROR DURING INSTALLATION".  Consult Windows Installer Help (MSI.CHM) or MSDN for more information.

    Can you help me?
  • Hi Ralph - Error code 1603 is a generic "setup failed" error that comes from Windows Installer.  You can use the steps listed at http://blogs.msdn.com/astebner/archive/2005/03/29/403575.aspx to gather a verbose log file for the installation that will hopefully help narrow this down.  I can't promise to be able to help, but I can try to take a look if you want to contact me via http://blogs.msdn.com/astebner/contact.aspx with the verbose log information.
  • what's: Error 1305.error reading from file (:/progam files/fixaris games/civilization 3/sounds/build/middle ages/MidORfull.mp3.
    verify that the file exists and that you can acces it.

    can you help me?
  • Hi Marc - Error 1305 means exactly what you said in your comment - there is an error reading from the specified file.  Can you check and see if that file exists in that folder location and also whether or not you have the necessary permissions to create/edit/delete files in that location?  The steps listed at http://blogs.msdn.com/astebner/archive/2005/08/09/449720.aspx can also be used to reset file and registry permissions, and that might be useful in this scenario.
  • aka what does it mean; error-1603 fatal error during instalation
  • Hi Jane - Error 1603 is a generic error that means "fatal error during installation" according to the Windows Installer help files.  This error can be caused by a lot of different issues.  Most commonly, it means that one of the custom actions that runs during the installation has failed.  You can use steps similar to the ones listed at http://blogs.msdn.com/astebner/archive/2005/08/01/446328.aspx to narrow down the root cause of this type of error.
  • I was trying to install a PC game Generals Zero Hour when its almost done, it showed "Internal Error 2350" and was not installed. Look up to my PC for MSI.chm as at times after numerous attempts to install the game program but no MSI.chm is found.
    Where can I find this "MSI.chm" and how can I install it to my PC? I am not very well versed with using the PC. Please help. Thanks.
  • Hi Torchbearer2 - According to the documentation at http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/msi/setup/windows_installer_error_messages.asp, error code 2350 means "FDI server error"

    I haven't personally seen that error before so I'm not really sure what would cause this.  You may want to search for troubleshooting suggestions on the website for the manufacturer of this game.
  • I am currently trying to install Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends. There are 4 different disks. I recieved all of them from Microsoft, so they are "not for retail or oem distribution". I hope you know what I am talking about. Well anyway, I always successfully install disk one, then I insert disk two when prompted. After a few moments I get error 1305. It seems as if the disk cannot read the file "Exp_sml_1_dist.wav". I checked and it is there, but after a couple of tries i decieded to just put in another wave file and name it "Exp_sml_1_dist". It worked! The file was skipped over and it seemed fine! Then another error occured (still on disk 2). It was "Internal error 2349". I did some research and installed "windows installer 3.1", but it still fails at that point. The disks are brand new and have no scratches, dust or even smudges on them. What is wrong? I cant figure it out. Please help me.
  • Hi Lann - The errors that you mention indicate a problem finding source files during installation.  When installing from a CD/DVD, that could mean that the installation disc is damaged.  Even if there are no visible flaws, there could be something wrong with the media.  I would suggest trying to clean the disc with soap and water (gently) and see if that helps.  If not, I would suggest contacting the technical support number provided with your product and asking for replacement media.
  • Thank you, I have contacted microsoft.
  • As noted earlier this week , the final versions of the Windows Installer 4.5 redistributable and Windows

  • A standalone Windows Installer 4.5 SDK has been released to the Download Center. This Windows Installer

  • Install the software on administrator's right and it will allow access for installation.

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