When I try to uninstall a program from Windows 7 through the Control Panel (Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Programs and Features, and not a third-party software like Revo Uninstaller) I see this error message:

programs and features dialog popup

Please wait until the current program is finished uninstalling or being changed

How can I know which program is being installed or uninstalled?

Looking at the task manager can give some hints:

task manager list

but it's a bit tedious and might not be obvious. Is there a better way? And without having to just restart Windows?

Several people use the same computer (using the same Windows account). Taskbar doesn't always show all programs as some being installed or uninstalled might not have a taskbar item (typically a background process that is on hold for whatever reason).

  • 1
    I've got a new Acer PC here at work that they want me to uninstall all of the bloat-ware that Acer put on there. Every freakin' one of them is throwing up that message, and they have never even been run before. What a PITA, rebooting after uninstalling every one. It looks like there are 20 or so I have to do.
    – jp2code
    Nov 11 '15 at 18:26
  • 1
    Just for future reference, I had this problem and solved it by killing processes TrustedInstaller and a particular dllhost.exe whose command-line (seen in Process Explorer) mentioned something about uninstalling.
    – pgr
    Dec 31 '15 at 13:43

Do yourself a favor and restart the computer.

By doing so, windows will tell you which programs are still in use. After it restarts, try to uninstall the same program you did before, it should most likely work again.

If you are not the only person on the computer, its impossible to know what the other users have done while you were not there, If there are no programs running actively, it sounds like some kind of weird glitch I've never heard of.

  • 4
    Thanks but I have some running servers and would prefer not to kill them, as initiating a Windows restart would do. Windows logs a bunch of stuff, that could be a way to know what other users did. Aug 30 '14 at 17:57
  • 1
    if killing process is fine, kill msiexec.exe and try Nov 6 '15 at 13:30
  • 1
    @ChintakChhapia I have that message and no msiexec.exe in process manager
    – barlop
    Jun 13 '16 at 5:15

In my particular case it appears that a background process (tivoli endpoint manager or possibly a virus scanner auto updating itself or what not) was installing a program I was "unaware" of in the background. So common advice on the interwebs seems to be to kill "msiexec.exe" or "trustedinstaller.exe" or "installmanager.exe" if any of those exist in the process list. Java auto updates apparently do this. Other advice is to kill explorer.exe. Or possibly disable the system service that is firing off the background installs. Or reboot if those all fail (though if its a service doing the installs, the problem will just come back again, you may have to just wait it out until it finishes first). If all of those fail then possibly using the Revo Uninstaller will still work, but you always hope to not need to install 3rd party software to uninstall others :|

Or of course, you could just wait forever and then it may well work eventually...

  • 3
    In my case (no trustedinstaller, no msiexec, not even wuauserv) I eventually found out it was Steam "holding" it.
    – mirh
    Aug 8 '18 at 12:17

This isn't about this particular installer, but in general, when installer gives an error about an install being in progress, and killing tasks, logging out and back in, and finally restarting Windows doesn't fix the problem, then what usually causes this is a file that has been left behind by another installer. This is likely to happen if you're experimenting with running programs under a limited user account, and the installer is unable to delete a file that was left from another install program that was run from a different user account.

You have to get a utility like filemon.exe and use that to trace all the files being opened by the install program. If you look for an ACCESS DENIED or you compare it to a successful trace from a different computer, you can usually find out what file is causing the hang up. If that doesn't work then try regmon.exe and do the same. You'll probably need a utility like GNU diff or vimdiff to compare the results.

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