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Each time I try to install a program on my computer (running windows 7 RC), a setup.exe dialog pops up:

The Windows Installer service is unavailable. Another application may be rerunning setup. Finish any installations in progress, or restart your computer, and then re-run setup.

I did restart a few times, and there's no ongoing installation I can think of.

If I pop up a task manager, I can indeed see a msiexec.exe process. I can kill it, but it will immediately start again. Is there a way to determine which program is installing and to abort it?

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Use Process Explorer. It should tell you what the program is, and also lets you kill it.

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This Microsoft Tool will clean the partially installed programs.

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One workaround is to kill msiexec.exe right before launching the other setup. Since msiexec.exe starts again by itself, the timeframe is quite tight, but it's definitely feasible...

Only a dirty workaround, though.

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Dunno if this works on 7 (probably does) but you can turn on MSI logging. My guess is Automatic Updates is stuck.

You usually have to turn on logging to get any information from MSI but there may be a few hints in the event log.

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I would check the windows application event log. MSI installations often show detailed errors inside these log files.

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