Windows 7 : Understanding and Resolving Installation Failures (part 1) - Verifying Software Installation Requirements

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To troubleshoot installation failures, you need to understand the requirements of a successful installation. These requirements include—among other factors—administrator privileges, compatibility with Windows 7, availability of installation code and data, and the status of application dependencies. You also need to understand how administrative features such as Software Restriction Policies (SRP) and AppLocker can block an installation even when these requirements are met.

1. Verifying Software Installation Requirements

You can install new software on clients running Windows 7 in two general ways. First, you can push applications to clients by means of a software deployment technology such as Group Policy, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, or a third-party solution. The second option is to install a program manually.

Although some of the requirements for successful software installation are particular to the way in which the software is deployed, most requirements apply to all software installation methods. To begin troubleshooting a failed installation, therefore, you can verify the general requirements described in the following section.

1.1. Verifying Administrator Rights

One of the most basic requirements for a successful software installation is that the user account running the installer program needs local administrator privileges, and to have these local administrator privileges on a particular computer, the account needs to be a member of the Administrators group on that computer.

If you are not able to get past the User Account Control prompt when you attempt to install a program, therefore, you should verify that the account used for installation is granted local administrator privileges on the computer in question. Typically, having domain administrator privileges is sufficient because by default, domain administrators are members of the local Administrators group on every computer that is a member of the same domain. However, you should perform this verification even if you are already a domain administrator because the Domain Admins group might have been removed from the local Administrators group.

To determine whether you are a member of the local Administrators group on a particular computer, you can use the Local Users And Groups console. To open this console in Windows 7, you can click Start, type edit local users and groups, and then press Enter. (Note that you can perform this step even if you are not already a local administrator.) Then, in the console tree of the Local Users And Groups console, select Groups, and then double-click the Administrators group in the details pane. This procedure opens the Administrators Properties dialog box, which is shown in Figure 1. This dialog box lists all the local administrators for that machine.

Figure 1. Viewing the local administrators

If you are a local administrator, you can then use the Add button in the Administrators Properties dialog box to add other local administrators if desired. Note, however, that in an enterprise network, it is preferable to control local group membership by using the Restricted Groups feature in Group Policy.

1.1.1. Running an Installation Program as an Administrator
Running an Installation Program as an Administrator

If you can verify that you are a local administrator but you still see a message indicating that administrator rights are required to perform the installation, you should choose the option to run the installer program as an administrator. To do this, right-click the installation icon for the program, and then click Run As Administrator, as shown in Figure 2. If a User Account Control consent or credential prompt appears, provide confirmation or administrator credentials as needed.

Figure 2. Running an installation with administrator privileges

1.2. Verifying Windows 7 Compatibility

If an application is known to be incompatible with Windows 7, you might receive a message informing you of this fact when you attempt to install the program. If no updated version of the software is available, you can try altering the compatibility settings on the installer program or hosting the application in a virtual environment.

1.3. Verifying Trusted Publishers

When you install a new program, Windows 7 checks for a certificate and a digital signature to authenticate the publisher of the program. To verify this digital signature properly, the local computer must trust the root certification authority (CA) for the publisher certificate. Stated another way, the local computer must have installed in its Trusted Root Certification Authorities certificate store the root certificate in the certificate chain of the publisher certificate. An administrator can install this root certificate manually on a local computer or the certificate can be deployed to the Trusted Root Certification Authority certificate store on many clients through Group Policy.

If the certificate in the installer program is from a trusted publisher and the digital signature is verified, the installation proceeds normally. However, if no digital signature is present, or if the local computer is not configured to trust the publisher, you will see a warning message similar to the one shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Avoid installing programs from untrusted publishers.

In general, you should avoid installing programs from unsigned publishers in an enterprise environment. Such programs might fail during installation, and even if they do install successfully, they could present stability problems or introduce malware into your network.

1.4. Verifying Software Logo Testing on a Client Running Windows 7

Occasionally, when you attempt to install an application, you will receive a warning that the application has not passed Windows 7 logo testing. In this case, you should avoid installing the software.

For an application to pass Windows 7 logo testing, it must meet a number of requirements, including compliance with specific anti-spyware guidelines, isolation from protected resources in Windows, a reversible installation, and a digital signature on all files.

1.5. Verifying the Installation Media Location

Before you attempt to install an application, ensure that all the files needed for installation are available in the required locations. For example, if you have copied an installer program from a network source to a local computer, be sure that you also copy all the associated secondary files that are called by the installer program when it runs. (These secondary files can include .cab files or .ini files.) If you are installing an application from over the network, verify that any secondary files are also accessible from the local computer and that you have Read and Execute permissions on these files.

1.6. Verifying Installation Settings

When you attempt to install an application, ensure that the settings that you have chosen for the installation are configured properly; otherwise, the installation might fail. For example, if you choose to install a program on a read-only disk, the installation fails.

1.7. Verifying External Connections

Certain applications require connectivity to external sources of data. For example, the application might require a connection to a database, mainframe, Web site, license server, or other application server. In this case, verify that the installation program can reach these external connections.

1.8. Verifying Licensing and Other Application Constraints

An application might include constraints that will prevent it from installing successfully. For example, a license or product key might be required to install the application, or the application might need to be installed with a specific user account. Verify also that the application architecture is compatible with the local processor. For example, you cannot install a 64-bit application on a computer with a 32-bit CPU.

1.9. Verifying Application Dependencies

Some applications can be installed only after you first install other updates, features, service packs, or other applications. Be sure to prepare the client running Windows 7 for application installation by first installing all the necessary software dependencies.



The following Web sites are good resources for automating the installation of applications, as well as other deployment topics:

  • at

    This Web site provides information about deploying applications that are packaged using a variety of technologies.

  • SourceForge at

    This Web site describes how to automate the installation of many older installers.

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