Error message when you try to install a program from the network on a Windows Vista-based computer: “Fatal error during installation”

When you try to install a program on a Windows Vista-based computer by using the Install a program from the network item in Control Panel, you may receive an error message that resembles the following:

Fatal error during installation

Additionally, if you have Windows Installer logging enabled, you notice, in the Windows Installer log file, that Windows Installer tries to access the following folder:


Note SERVER-SHARE is a placeholder for the actual server share name. COMPUTER_NAME is a placeholder for the actual computer name.


This problem may occur if the value for the following registry entry has been changed:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders\AppData

For example, the value of this registry entry may be changed by a logon script. The value for this registry entry is changed to use the environment variable %USERNAME%. However, when Windows Installer reads the value of this registry entry, Windows Installer incorrectly expands the value of the %USERNAME% environment variable to the computer name instead of to the logon user name. Then, Windows Installer cannot access the path of the program correctly. Therefore, you cannot install the program from the network.


Warning Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly by using Registry Editor or by using another method. These problems might require that you reinstall the operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that these problems can be solved. Modify the registry at your own risk.To work around this issue, use one of the following methods.

Method 1

Use the Folder Redirector policy to change the value of the AppData registry entry. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Locate the following node in the Group Policy Object Editor:User Configuration\Windows Settings\Folder Redirection\Application Data
2. Right-click the node, and then click Properties.
3. In the Application Data Properties dialog box, click one of the following items in the Settings list:

  Basic – Redirect everyone’s folder to the same location
  Advanced – Specify locations for various user groups
4. Specify the path of the server file system to which the folder should be redirected.

Method 2

Edit the value of the AppData registry entry to use the actual user name. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Open Registry Editor.
2. Locate the following registry entry:HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders\AppData
3. Use the actual user name to replace the environment variable in the value of the registry entry. For example, change the value from “%USERNAME%\AppData” to “ActualUser\Appdata,” where “ActualUser” is the name of the current user.


Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the Microsoft products that are listed in the “Applies to” section.


To install a program from the network on a Windows Vista-based computer, follow these steps:

1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
2. Click Programs, and then click Get Programs.
3. Click a program in the list that is displayed.
4. Click Install.

  Windows Vista Enterprise 64-bit Edition
  Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit Edition
  Windows Vista Enterprise
  Windows Vista Ultimate


Microsoft Knowledge Base Article

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