Installer hangs when upgrading or removing .NET Framework

I've run into a troubling problem involving multiple versions of the .NET Framework on more than one computer. The symptoms are always the same: When I try to upgrade or remove an edition of the .NET Framework, the installer (or uninstaller) hangs in trying to register (or unregister) some of the .NET .DLLs.

When this happens, one of the processes invoked by the installer (usually REGSVR32.EXE) peaks at 100% CPU and stays there indefinitely. Killing the process usually leaves the install or removal in a broken state until you complete it at another time.

At first I thought this was a problem with the system in general, but no other software installations seemed to suffer from the same issues. Some online searching turned up a possible

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answer: if a few key services in the system were disabled or not running, this might cause the install process to hang. Evidently the installer cannot enable or activate these services by itself.

The two services in question turned out to be the Microsoft Distributed Transaction Controller and the Windows Installer service, Both were enabled but not running. Once I started both of them and re-ran the deinstaller, the .NET Framework was removed cleanly. I was also able to reinstall them without trouble.

Note: The Windows Installer service should be version 3.1 or better; if it isn't installed (check Add/Remove Programs), you can download version 3.1 or higher.

Further note: Some third-party applications can also cause this to happen. In his aforemention blog, Aaron Stebner mentions Tenebril GhostSurf 2006, an Internet anonymity product. However, that program doesn't seem to require the .NET Framework to run. Furthermore, there may be other products that cause issues like this as well.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter, which is devoted to hints, tips, tricks, news and goodies for Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP users and administrators. He has more than 10 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.

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This was first published in September 2006

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