Fix Windows Installer Error 1603

The following error message may be displayed on your Windows 2000 or Windows XP computer when you try to install the Microsoft Windows Installer 1.0, Microsoft Windows Installer 1.1, Microsoft Windows Installer 1.2, or Microsoft Windows Installer 2.0 packages:

Error 1603: A fatal error occurred during installation.

Additionally, when you click the OK button in the error message box the Windows Installer installation rolls back.

Cause of the Error

Error 1603 occurs in one of the following conditions:

  • You are attempting to install Windows Installer to an encrypted folder.
  • The drive on which the folder to which you are attempting to install Windows Installer is located or accessed as a substitute drive on the system.
  • Windows Installer setup process uses the SYSTEM account to install the package to your computer. If the SYSTEM account does not have Full Control permissions on the folder to which you are installing the package, the error message will be displayed.

Resolution Method

Depending on the cause, perform one of the following tasks to install Windows Installer on the system.

Method 1: Ensure that you are installing Windows Installer to a non-encrypted folder.

If you are trying to install the Windows Installer package to an encrypted folder the error message will be displayed. Therefore, if you are doing so, change the installation folder to a folder that is not encrypted to resolve error 1603.

Method 2: Ensure the folder to which you are installing the package is not located on a substitute drive.

A substitute drive is actually a virtual drive that you can create to assign a drive letter to a local path on your folder. If you try to install the Windows Installer package to a folder that is located on a substitute drive, error 1603 will occur. This is the reason why, you must install the package to a folder that you do not access through a substitute drive.

Method 3: On your Windows 2000 or Windows XP computer, grant the SYSTEM account Full Control access rights to the folder you are installing the Windows Installer package.

If error 1603 is generated because the SYSTEM account does not have full access permissions to the folder you are installing the package to, perform the following steps to grant the required rights to the account:

  1. Open the My Computer window.
  2. Select and right-click on the drive to which you want to install the Windows Installer package and then select Properties.
  3. Perform the following tasks on the Security tab.
    • On Windows 2000, ensure that the SYSTEM account is there in the Name box.
    • On Windows XP, ensure that the SYSTEM account is there in the Group or user names box.
  4. In case the SYSTEM account is not there, perform the following tasks to add it:
    1. Click the Add button.
    2. In the Select Users or Groups dialog box, select SYSTEM from the Name field and then click the Add button.
    3. Click the OK button.
  5. Next, select Full Control located under Allow, from the Permissions section and then click the Advanced button.
  6. Next, perform the following tasks:
    • On Windows XP, select the Replace permission entries on all child objects with entries shown here that apply to child objects check box for the SYSTEM account, and then click the OK button.
    • On Windows 2000, select the Reset permissions on all child objects and enable propagation of inheritable permissions check box for the SYSTEM account, and then click the OK button.
  7. After the permissions are applied, restart the installation for the Windows Installer package.