Andrei Smolin

Windows Installer Error 2908 when installing bulky setup projects

On one of our test PC (a virtual one) with VS 2008 Beta2 installed on Windows XP, we got the following problem. If any of Add-in Express for Office and .NET product packages are installed, uninstalled and re-installed for the second time, the “Error 2908” message is shown a tremendous number of times. It is obvious that the message is shown for every file included into the package. What is worse, when the setup program is complete, you get this error again when you install or uninstall any MSI-based product. That is, from the common point of view, Windows becomes inoperable. Windows Installer Error Messages doesn’t provide any useful info.

If you google for “Error 2908”, you’ll find out that this error occurs for a number of applications. Workarounds exist for installing Office 2000 on Windows 98 or ME, NET Framework 1.1, Visual Studio 2005. But none of those workarounds worked for us.

Then we found an interesting post on the forum: they added Crystal Reports merge modules to their setup and got this error. This resulted in “reinstalling windows on computers affected with the error.” What Microsoft suggested is “ask Business Objects company that produces the Crystal Report for assistance”. As you may assume, Crystal Reports supporters sent poor devils back to Microsoft.

However, we googled out some vague notes that the cause of this error may relate to the number of files included into the package. This was somehow backed up by Orca that reported the following incomprehensible warning message: “Feature ‘DefaultFeature’ has XXXX components. This could cause problems on Win9X systems. You should try to have fewer than 817 components per feature.”

To verify this assumption, we created a simple setup with some 2000 files. Nevertheless, this setup program has run through the install/uninstall/install procedure successfully. But when we added a custom action (Install, Rollback, and Uninstall), we got Error 2098 again. Moreover, it turned out that install/uninstall is enough for breaking the Windows Installer down. Then we found that the number of files that does the trick lies between 1000 and 1022. We don’t know if this number depends on the number of custom actions.

This research forced us to decrease the number of Add-in Express files by moving demo projects to a ZIP archive. And in this way, we overpowered Error 2908.

But this was not the end of the story. We felt obliged to find a way for our customers to restore their PCs if they have got into this trap by installing Add-in Express.

The solution was found by a pure chance. Thank Heavens.

Deleting the following key restores the functionality of the Windows Installer:


We don’t know who created this key: repairing Office and all .NET Framework versions on that PC doesn’t restore the key. Currently, we believe this key is created by Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2. We don’t know what impact the deletion of this key may have on any software on that PC.

What makes us think the key is suspicious? The registry contains the following branches:
 The Installer-UserData registry branches.

Further on, I will refer to branch S-1-5-18 as ShortSID and S-1-5-21-1409082233-343818398-725345543-1004 as LongSID.

Our experiments showed that products installed for all users fall into the ShortSID/Products branch. Accordingly, products installed for the current user only, fall into the LongSID/Products branch. For every file in the setup project, we got an entry in the Components branch. This entry contains a registry value whose name refers to the product’s entry in the Products branch. Hope this makes sense :)

The key mentioned above looks suspicious for the following reasons:
Firstly, it is located in the LongSID/Components branch (the registry value is (B3414A45B4B628042B8446B35265C1BC), but, in the LongSID/Products branch, there is no corresponding product.

Secondly, the value of this registry value contains a question mark instead of a colon in the path: C?\WINDOWS\system32\rgb9rast_2.dll
The registry key that causes Error 2908.
We tried deleting this key and it helped. Finally, we tried creating this key on a clean PC and reproduced Error 2908 with our test setup project.

1. It required 3 days X 4 developers to fix the problem that, we know for sure, was not engendered by us.
2. Any developer can create a setup project that may make Windows practically inoperable.
3. This developer will be blamed for no reason at all.

Thanks to Gabe’s comment, another thought crossed my mind: It looks like the mysterious key may be created when you update .NET Framework 2.0 (I’m almost sure the installer for VS 2008 Beta 2 did update it). Sorry we didn’t try to reproduce the “This application must be installed to run. Please run Setup from the location where you originally installed the application.” error reported by Gabe.

A while back I ran into the post stating that deleting the keys that contain values with “C?” allows installing F#.

But all this is very sad indeed, after publishing this article I posted all pertaining information to a Microsoft newsgroup; it was as early as in November 2007, to no avail :(

Last updated on 19-Sep-2009


  • Luc Chase says:

    Thank you soo much for posting this fix. Had this error 2908 when re-installing Python on Windows XP. Fixed as per your suggestion!

  • Rosdi says:

    Much gracias… Had this exact same problem installing google app engine. I deleted the key and the error is gone, stupid Windows.

  • Sam says:

    You are a godsend!! I had the error from an installer to fix an error I was getting for the Clean Manger tool and this solved the cleanmgr.exe error bypassing the installer fix.
    I had 2 LongSID’s that I deleted to make it work and always remember to export your registry before hacking away at it.
    Thanks a lot!

  • john says:

    thank you so much. I am pulling my hair off with this issue for a while. This fixed issue with customer

  • chris says:

    It didn’t work for me, instead now i get three errors

  • chris says:

    ok i found a solution that worked for me on another page
    i went to c:/windows/system32/mscoree.dll and deleted it and open office installed properly
    not sure how safe it is, but it worked fine

  • Andrei Smolin (Add-in Express Team) says:

    Deleting any files from that folder is a dangerous experiment. And mscoree.dll is a file that you must never delete!

  • honz says:

    Thx for the help! Worked perfectly

  • JasonS says:

    Thank you so much. It took me 3 days and 2 pages of Google results so find this but thank you. I had a similar issue with installer files but my UserData was not the same I just deleted the ‘component’ for all of them till it worked.


  • Hossein says:

    Thanks alot i’ve been searching alot for the solution the problem finaly has been solved by your help

  • António Nuno - Portugal says:

    This problem may be originated by so many sources, like new XP SP3, wrong Microsoft .Net, etc, etc that I could not see any solution nearby. And I have a so tight time frame to finish this work. You saved my day. Thank you so much.

  • Gabe says:

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!!!!

    After hours of searching and reading this is the ONE thing that solved the problem!!

    It should also be noted that this is the fix for the “This application must be installed to run. Please run Setup from the location where you originally installed the application.” error. At least for Office (2000).

    I started receiving this error after switching from an nVidia card to an ATI card. During the install process, I’m almost certain the ATI software asked to install .NET 2.0. I went ahead and allowed it (which in retrospect may have been a mistake because I already had 3.0 and 3.5 installed?). At least I think that might be the cause.

    Thanks again! :D

  • Andrei Smolin (Add-in Express Team) says:

    Thank YOU! It makes me think this key might be created when you update .NET Framework 2.0.

  • MKR says:

    I had been unpacking installers myself to get stuff out since I had pretty much given up on finding a solution, but this worked perfectly. Thanks. :)

  • Kensel says:

    Thank you!!!

  • josh says:

    How can I locate that key to delete it? I can’t seem to find it anywhere on my computer, but I get the same error when trying to install MS Office.

  • josh says:

    Please disregard my previous post, I’m an idiot.

  • Tutul says:

    I was having problems with google app engine installation, your solution saved me. Thank You very much :D

  • MetaEd says:

    I encountered Internal Error 2908 when upgrading from 3.1 to 3.1.1.

    I did find and delete the registry key AD95649F068525549B26938D7D18FEA7. Unfortunately, the symptom persisted.

    I did not find MSCOREE.DLL in WINDOWS\SYSTEM32, though there was one in WINDOWS\ServicePackFiles\i386, and a MSCOREE.TLB in WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727.

  • Jonny says:

    I have the install problem (trying to intstall iTunes) However this ‘suspicious key’ seems to be in the shortSiD folder. Any ideas what i should do? I dont think I have .Net framework installed. Could this be the problem?

  • Andrei Smolin (Add-in Express Team) says:

    To MetaEd and Jonny.

    Unfortunately, I can’t help you with this. We still don’t know what software created this key on our PCs (yes, it’s in the ShortSiD, Jonny). In other words, it’s possible that this issue doesn’t relate to the .NET Framework at all. Sorry, I can’t even give you any decent advice.

  • Tony J says:

    Thank you for this! Just saved me a couple of hours of installation.

  • Editorman says:

    I deleted C:\WINDOWS\system32\rgb9rast_2.dll and it the installer worked again. P.S.
    This error has something to do with rgb9rast_2.dll :|

  • Andrei Smolin (Add-in Express Team) says:

    Thank you for that valuable piece of info! Unfortunately, I’m unable to test this. Maybe other blog readers will be able to test and confirm that deleting the mentioned DLL also solves the issue.

  • Erion says:

    Thanks a lot for this information. I had the same situation with my wix installer. I spent 5 days on this issue, and your writeup solved my issue.

    My installer installs on development machines but not in VBox.
    The development machines don’t have that key.

  • Pat says:

    Thank you so much! This is a great tip.

  • KosmiK says:

    Thank you, thank you. This worked for me, and allowed me to install NPCL tools for Visual Studio 2008 (after a lot of head-scratching).

  • Henry says:

    Thanks you very much Gabe.
    You are a life saver.

    Good job.

    I am sure for all the people you helped they will be greatly thankfull to you.

  • Sachin Patki says:

    Seems like it is working for me as well…… :-)

    Thanks a lot… this has saved my time. I was reinstalling Winmobile 7 (OS, SDK) on XP when ran into this error. I was thinking of formating the XP machine….


  • phani says:

    This fix didnt work for me

  • Deadman0309 says:

    This post have resolved my issue.

    Thanks a lot!!!!!!

  • Deepan says:

    I had this issue while installing Concept systems application on LAN. Not all teh PC’s had this issue but some did have this issue the application failing to install with teh error 2908.

    Finally after working on the issue for two days…breaking my hear over the .dot
    versions on the computers this post finally helped me resolve the issue.

    Thankx a ton!!!

  • Oliver Thomas says:

    Didn’t work for me unfortunately. Trying to install Bonjour for Windows. Tried the reg fix plus temporarily moving the two .dll mentioned above but still no luck :(

  • Raul says:

    Hello friends, I’m from Ecuador, and I’d like that someone can help me, I have the same problem, but tell me, what do I have to do, I mean what files or folders do I have to delete??…

  • Andrei Smolin (Add-in Express Team) says:

    Hello Raul,

    You don’t need to delete any files or folders. What you need to delete is a registry key. To find the key, please find the following text in this post first:

    “Deleting the following key restores the functionality of the Windows Installer:”

    Starting from this sentence I describe what registry key you need to delete and how to find it on your PC.

  • James says:

    Thanks so much, there are some clever people about!

  • Sadek says:

    Thank you

  • Marco says:

    as tutul, I was having problems with google app engine installation, your solution saved me. Thank You very much

  • Sriram M says:

    Hello My Dear Friends,

    Thanks for the Great Solution.. I spent over 3 days to fix the issue. But this solution fixed it in few minutes. I faced the Internal Error 2908 issue with my code warrior installation. I am sure the culprit who creates the Key is VS2008.
    Because before i installing VS2008, i installed CW. It worked fine. But in another PC, i installed the VS2008 first. Then i tried to install CW. I got internal error.
    The culprit is MS VS2008… Thanks…

  • Anil says:

    I am facinf the error 2908 during the installtion of Touchstar Reporter,PLease can anyone assist me to resolve the same error

  • Henry Werner says:

    Hello and thank you! I just finished my very first msi, and tested it on all my machines, only to find this error on my XP, my official dump set. You saved myself at least a year or so, trying figgure that one out.

  • Eckehard Pfeifer says:

    Hi and thank you so much. So I could solve the problem in one day (and not in 13+).
    Greetings EP

  • Nemorarius says:

    Hi Andreï,
    Congratulations and thanks a billion!

  • Sashko says:

    I can’t find that key in my regedit. And the problem is still here. What shall I do ?

  • Andrei Smolin (Add-in Express Team) says:

    To Sashko. I’m sorry, we don’t know if other solutions for this issue exist.

  • Vincent says:

    Thx a lot you gave me a free day-off with this post, thx again

  • Vil says:

    Thx a lot, you are the best man)) I reinstalled NET framework, updated winInstaller two times and even downloaded this stupid windows installer clean up wich didn’t delete anything, and now I’ve find this great post) I’ll spread it)

  • Goro says:

    Removing (renaming) MSCOREE.DLL and rgb9rast_2.dll didn’t help at all.
    However, after removing those two keys:




    everything works fine!

    Thank you a bunch!

  • Christine says:

    Thank you! After losing most of a day installing/reinstalling .net and updating various items, I found your post!

    Yes the S-1-5-21…. keys had the path with a ? instead of a : (colon) as you found. I deleted the key as you suggested and then the custom installer ran perfectly!

    Thank you!!!

  • Hernan says:

    No entieendo, Pero se qe tengo este problema D:

  • Andrei Smolin (Add-in Express Team) says:

    Hi Hernan,

    Traducción del español al Inglés –

  • Kate says:

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Guru Hegde says:

    Thanks a lot….

  • Peter Brookman says:

    This was very helpfull, thanks!
    The “mysterious” key in our case was created by the setup. Here it stores information of the specific install. It looks like the setup did not remove the Components subkey in the first de-install. When we removed the components subkey the problem was solved!

  • didyman says:

    Made my day! Thanks! The entry is relate to a dll that is part of DirectX. Dunno, what is the relationship. I have a clients notebook with this error installing MSICUU2 and Office have had a mystic behaviour (it stated it hasn’t been installed for this user). And this entry is also present on my net machine, but that one has no any kind of mystic behaviour. :-)

  • Andrei Smolin (Add-in Express Team) says:


    Thank you for the piece of interesting info!

  • yoav says:

    This solved the problem, thanks so much!

  • frankzeffi says:

    This was essential… Thanks

  • Jirimi says:

    Many thanks, Goro !
    This help me:
    emoving those two keys:




  • Andrei Smolin (Add-in Express Team) says:

    Many thanks to Jirimi and Goro!

  • Febeeh says:

    Dear Guys,
    i followed the steps at last i came component but i cant find AD95649F068525549B26938D7D18FEA7 file

  • Andrei Smolin (Add-in Express Team) says:


    This is not a file! This is a registry entry. Make sure that you actually follow the steps. Or, you can try searching the registry.

  • Oguz says:

    Hi Andrei,

    Thanks for your solution. It didn’t worked for me but I’m feeling that I’m too close to the solution. There are different registry keys in the Components folder which are given with ‘C?’, shall I delete every key in the Components folder starts with C? because I can’t find the same registry keys that you suggested to delete.

    Thanks in Advance

    PS: I can’t install and windows updates, .net framework updates, some softwares etc.. (vista 64 bit)

  • Andrei Smolin (Add-in Express Team) says:

    Hi Opuz,

    I can’t recommend deleting these keys: I don’t know consequences. I suppose however that you can try deleting them. I strongly suggest that you create a copy of the registry before you modify it. An please (please!) post your results here!

  • Oguz says:

    Hi Andrei,

    Thank you but deleting the ‘C?’ keys didn’t help to fix the problem. I’m still having the following errors and am stucked (after a month dealing with this frustrating problem):

    – Error 643: When I’m trying to install the updates via Windows Update (those are all started with the error of Silverlight 09.05.2012 update: KB2690729)

    – Error 2908: When I’m trying to install some software like iTunes, Skype, Microsoft Fix it Center-beta (upgrade or clean installation): it gives this error when it’s trying to register the components…

    – Internal Error 2753: especially when I’m trying to install important softwares like .NET Framework etc.

    What did I do till now (not in a particular order):

    – register/unregister the windows installer via cmd
    – new user account
    – deleting %temp%
    – fix it center (tried to fix the components with over 10 fix it pack)
    – spam removal tools (such as superantispyware, malware, kaspersky tls etc.)
    – regedit-deleting the C? keys in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Installer\UserData\S-1-5-21-1060284298-527237240-7253455431003\Components\ folder.

    – hiding the updates
    – removing/installing the .net framework versions (it’s pointed in several websites)
    – making a new framework user profiles

    I can’t install the sofware which need .net framework, I can’t install .net framework itself, I can’t update my windows vista 64 bit machine, I can’t upgrade the softwares like itunes, skype, I can’t install the important sofwares like silverlight, office etc.

    For over 15 years I’m using windows systems and started with dos and I’m done. Really. The whole computer industry is such a big lie. I’m a designer and I can’t work without a headache with a 8gb quad core machine. I can’t afford to buy a Mac but when I have the money I’ll swear that I’ll completely say goodbye to this hopeless windows system… I’m sick of it…

    Thanks again for your help Andrei. If anyone finds any other solution about this please write down here cos’ I’ll check this thread time to time.

    Wish you all the best,

  • Andrei Smolin (Add-in Express Team) says:

    Thank you for the nice words, Oguz!

    I’m sorry, I can only suggest reinstalling Windows: I don’t think such a solution exists.

  • Chengcai Zhang says:

    Thanks a lot! Help me to install the CodeWarrior Development Studio for S12(X) V5.1 sucessfully.

  • Man says:


    It worked also fine with me.

    Deleted the orphan note in registry and worked fine for the install :

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00




  • Yuval Papish says:

    Worked like a charm – Win XP, Google AppEngine 1.8.0

  • ytytrepus says:

    Tank You !!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jonathan Bautista says:


  • Caesar Ryan says:


  • Piero says:

    Thank you,
    you saved my day. I “only” spent 1/2 a day trying to understand what was wrong with my windows xp. I was on the point of reinstalling everything, when I found this note.
    Actually the problem showed up with a cryptic “MsiAPICallFailure ErrorCode: 110(0x6e)” message, and only after a deeper investigation I spotted a 2908 Error message that took me here.
    Needless to say the Microsoft “fix it” tool didn’t work at all….

  • Arnold says:


    Im from Philippine and I have this problem for months now.. my microsoft office application did’nt run there giving me “low in memory or virtual something” i run a cross of your blog… and I follow your instruction it work like a charm… now in running all microsoft office fine…. thank you… so much…

    Best Regard,

    Arnold from

  • Max says:

    Where can i find that site because i tried to find it and i cant :(

  • Max says:

    ah i found it but i can’t find that folder called S-1-5-21-AND LOTS OF NUMBERS, I HAVE ONE BUT THAT IS NOT THE FOLDER :C

  • Janusz says:

    Absolutely genius post. I wouldn’t have a clue to find that registry item. It solved my problem. Thank you.

  • Cotejo says:

    Listo lo hice borre las entradas del registro donde se instalo pop asrt studio 6.5 como lo indica el maestro y pude volver a reinstalar el programa sin problemas lo mismo hice con 3 mas pero hay que buscar bien y tener cuidado de no borrar lo que no es ya que el windows se desmadra y adios programas

  • Morgan says:

    Thank you!! IT WORKS! =D

  • Khagesh Darji says:

    Great Post
    Thanks for useful sharing information and after long time we get the solution.

  • ri says:

    thanks a lots. finally i got the solution

  • Alessandro C says:

    After ten years and more… it’s still working!
    My key was pointing to rgb9rast_2.dll, with path starting -as you stated- with C?\xxxxx\xxxxx
    I deleted both keys (with the same name you wrote) for both users :
    S-1-5-21-1757981266-1682526488-1801674531-500 and also S-1-5-18 (you’ll never know…)
    A very big thanks from me, too!!!!!

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