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Windows Internet Explorer 9 and Microsoft Office (all editions) are both crippled on a variety of hardware configurations due to an unsolved corruption issue in the Windows 7 .NET Framework, which is affecting a small, but significant group of users. Microsoft has been aware of this issue for over a year, but has been unable to fix it fully.

The crippling error, ensuing tech support run around, (literally) days of wasted time, and final solution of being forced to reinstall Windows left me feeling like the star of one of those obnoxious "Get a Mac" commercials.  (Source: Apple)
Only current fix is a complete reinstall of Windows 7

Over the last two weeks I've been struggling with a very odd problem.  I had purchased a copy of Microsoft Office 2010 Professional from Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and had attempted to install it on my installation of Windows 7 Professional, only to discover that it refused to install.  Over a long and frustrating process I came to learn that my Windows 7 install was broken, in what is currently a irrepairable corruption.  And according to Microsoft support engineers, I'm not the only one.

I. The Dreaded Error 1935

The first sign I recognized that something serious had gone wrong with Windows 7 was when I tried to install Internet Explorer 9.  I wanted to include this browser's test results in my roundup of recent browsers.  But I would discover something quite different -- a bug in Windows itself.

I persistently received an error that it was missing necessary updates and could not install.  I tried running Windows update several times manually, to no avail.  I read several Knowledge Base and forum posts, but ultimately wasn't able to diagnose or fix the issue.  

At the time I was very busy and I had the Windows Update process set to automatic, so I decided to stop wasting time on the issue and wait for Microsoft to push down a fix.  In retrospect I probably should have posted to Microsoft Answers or called support, but again these things take time and having a working Internet Explorer 9 was a relatively secondary concern to me.

The problem would reappear this month when I purchased a copy of MSO 2010 Pro. and attempted an install.  The process consistently failed with the error:
Error 1935. An error occurred during the installation of assembly component {03A12C9D-C56A-3F97-8530-0643D6391970}. HRESULT: 0x80073712 Setup failed. Rolling back changes...
...and then rolled back the installation process.

I first did a Google search on the assembly component code and found one TechNet post dated July 2010 and one Microsoft Answers post dated March 2011 with same issue.  In both cases, the communication went dead without Microsoft or the poster expressing that a definitive solution had been reached.  

That worried me, but I dug up some pages on other 1935 errors (with different assembly components) such as the following:
From these posts I ascertained the following:
  1. An install of security software may interfere with installation (I've read some links to discussion of 1935 errors that suggest firewalls can also cause failures). 
  2. A broken .NET Framework can cause this error. 
  3. A missing TrustedInstaller.exe can cause this error.
  4. Running services can cause this error. 
  5. Previous installs of MSO can cause errors. 
Diligently, I addressed these issues one by one.  I uninstalled .NET Framework 4, Silverlight, and Visual C++ using the control panel and "FixIt" script tools Microsoft provides to remove vestiges of these services from the registry.  I verified that TrustedInstaller.exe was in its expected home (it was).  I turned off all non-essential, non-Microsoft services (a "clean" boot).  I disabled active monitoring in my security software.  I tried first a clean boot, then a boot to safe mode.

I probably spent 14-16 hours on this "project", including a wasted weekend day, between digging around online and implementing the suggestions.

At the end of the day I still returned to the same old thing -- the dreaded "Error 1935".

To be clear I've never seen any signs of a malware infection and I keep my computer well protected and monitored, so this appeared to be solely a Microsoft Windows/Office issue. 

Now I'm a DIY person and I spent a year working as an IT support engineer at an automotive plant (a co-op), so I tend to want to solve problems myself.  But at this point I admitted defeat.  I would have to contact Microsoft.

II. Into the Merry World of MSFT Tech Support

I first posted a post to Microsoft Answers.  I explained in explicit detail my problem, what I had done, and the fact that I was a journalist and was going to report on my experience (ethically, journalists should always inform people when they're "on the record").

My post can be found here:
I waited a few days and received a couple of suggestions, but as you'll see in my comments, they didn't work out.

So I picked up the phone and called Microsoft's phone support.  Now Microsoft Office 2010 Professional retails for $420 USD or more, so I would expect outstanding support.  Sadly, I would soon discover Microsoft had no answers for me.

I spoke with Microsoft Office support engineers first.  Overall, these engineers did about as good a job as I could expect in this situation -- they basically listened carefully to what I'd done, asked me some additional questions to make sure that I really exercised due diligence in all fields, and were friendly and sympathetic.

At the end of about 3 hours, one MSO support engineer told me, "Well I can understand your frustration, you've pretty much done everything already that we would have suggested."

I appreciated the sentiment.

They brought in their local Windows support engineer, and again the experience was relatively good -- but still no solutions.  In this case, at least we got a bit closer to the root issue.  They identified that the non-mandatory Windows Service Pack 1 update had never installed (to be honest, I never bothered to look or think of that) and also identified that my Windows Updates window perplexing showed up blank, despite the fact that I installed updates.

Ah, now I was on to something.  I end my phone call at about 4-5 hours, explaining that I would attempt to install the service pack.

After getting off the phone I tried to manually carry out a series of updates to get me to the service pack.  But I kept getting a failure in "check for system update readiness" tool (as shown by my CheckSUR logs).  I spent more time digging around based on the error messages I found my %temp% logs, but again found no real answers.

III. The Final Solution

Later in the day I received a follow up call from a Windows Team support engineer (not affiliated with the Office team).  This was a very different experience.  There seemed to be a huge communications problem -- perhaps a language barrier.  They wasted probably 45 minutes trying to tell me how to reinstall the .NET Framework, despite my repeated assurance "I've already done that!"

Finally after wasting a large amount of my time and seeming to understand nothing of what I was saying, the engineer suggested that I do a repair installation.  Now that sounded reasonable enough, but I had a small problem -- I had purchased an upgrade copy of Windows 7 and couldn't locate the DVD I burned my ISO to -- and the download link no longer worked.

So I went to a certain torrent site and downloaded a fresh Windows 7 Pro ISO (I had my product key from my email I dug up at least, so I was all set in that regard).  I could probably have contacted my vendor (Digital River), but at this point I was pretty frustrated with phone support, so I opted simply the torrent route.

I finally got my DVD all ready and tried the repair, but saw no success.  I still receive the exact same error I had receive since day 1.

At this point, feeling like I was stuck in some sort of bad Apple commercial parody, I made an executive decision.  

I'd wasted literally over 24 hours searching online trying fixes, and another 6-7 hours on the phone with Microsoft.  I decided to cut my losses and simply back up my data and do a fresh install.

I reinstalled Windows, manually ran all the updates, installed MSO 2010 Pro. with not so much as a protesting peep from the installer.  Everything ran beautifully.  The only issue is I now have at least several more hours of work ahead of me reinstalling yet more applications and copying over save data (from games) and my documents.

Today, I received a friendly follow-up call from a MSO team support engineer, a day after my clean install was complete.  The discussion was quite enlightening -- again in my brief experience the MSO team was MUCH better communicators that the Windows team, with the exception of the MSO team's local Windows support engineer.

The MSO engineer told me that what I had experienced was a .NET corruption issue -- one they had actually personally experienced themselves.  They said that they had "personally collected several of these logs" and that I was not alone -- a small subset of users were experiencing the same issue.

They said the Windows team was working on a fix and that it was a known problem.  They finally concluded by promising to keep me updated on the progress with the fix and politely apologizing for my inconvenience.

And so concluded my interesting experience with the world of Microsoft's support system.

IV. Conclusions

To wrap this up let me summarize what I've learned:
  • A small number of users are unable to install Microsoft Office due to a persistent .NET Framework 4 corruption issue in Windows 7.  It is unclear exactly how many users are affected -- it's clearly not the majority, but it's also clear that it's more than just 1 or 2 (remember also there's millions of MSO users).
  • Microsoft has known about this problem for over a year and has thus far been unable to fix it.
  • The only solution at this point is a clean install of Windows.  In some cases repair installations and other tricks will not solve the underlying problem.
  • The problem makes users unable to install Internet Explorer 9 and Microsoft Office.
  • The problem affects users with a variety of hardware configurations (HP, Dell, Apple, etc.) and a variety of operating system versions (from Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit to my own Windows 7 Professional 64-bit).
To me this experience has been a very frustrating one, and a disheartening one when it comes to Microsoft, whom I've generally felt is improving its performance in the consumer software market.  I scanned through the Microsoft Answers database and saw a whopping total of 39 unresolved posts on "Error 1935".  And one must assume that for ever user who takes the time to use that particular forum, there's more who post on TechNet, dozens more who call tech support, and even more who simply give up and just reinstall Windows.

Given this information, I would estimate that as many as 1,000 users (times however many systems they're running) could be affected by this problem, though some may be suffering in silence.  I wanted to speak up because, if you're having this issue I know what you went through, and I know the frustration of not getting a real solution from Microsoft and hearing that you've tried everything they could think of.

I've used Linux for years and have seldom encountered a problem I couldn't fix with some research and surgical operations to my underlying system applications.  I understand Microsoft benefits off of a more "closed boxed" model, à la Apple's "it just works".  

But the problem is that when the components inside the closed box break, Microsoft must fix them in a timely fashion.  Microsoft often seems perplexed and sluggish in generating a solution.  The final MSO team engineer explained to me that MSO was entirely dependent on the .NET Framework and Visual C++ in order to make it "lightweight".  I can appreciate that, but it seems to me that if this is such a critical component, that to allow a severe known issue to go unfixed for over a year is simply unacceptable.  

Microsoft wasted my time, so I'm here to save yours.  If you experience a similar error to what I did, try the steps outlined above in Section 1 (e.g. do a clean boot, check your TrustedInstaller.exe, etc.).  If those don't work -- you can either call Microsoft's team and invest several more hours, or you can simply do a clean install of Windows 7, which will likely be your final course of action either way.

Alternatively, if you don't absolutely need MSO's fancier features (like collaborative edits, plug-ins, and scripting -- features I unfortunately did need), you can simply save yourself both time AND money, and forgo the pricey Microsoft Office and download the free Open Office 3.3 -- currently supported by the Apache project.

I will update this piece when Microsoft publishes a fix for these .NET Framework 4 corruption issues.


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Doesn't seem too common
By Alexvrb on 8/20/2011 2:31:04 PM , Rating: 2
This is the first time I've heard of this exact issue. If it's rare and they have problems regularly duplicating it, getting a fix is kind of hard, no matter the problem. The only other time I've encountered something remotely like this was when a system experienced a power failure during an update (or possibly someone impatiently slams the lid shut on a lappy). But even so it wasn't quite this problem, and I wouldn't waste that much time before wiping a drive in any OS.




RE: Doesn't seem too common
By JasonMick (blog) on 8/20/2011 2:57:31 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
This is the first time I've heard of this exact issue. If it's rare and they have problems regularly duplicating it, getting a fix is kind of hard, no matter the problem. The only other time I've encountered something remotely like this was when a system experienced a power failure during an update (or possibly someone impatiently slams the lid shut on a lappy). But even so it wasn't quite this problem, and I wouldn't waste that much time before wiping a drive in any OS.

Ha, I wish I hadn't wasted that much time either, but I was trying to exercise due diligence and look for alternatives to a complete re-install. Plus I had a degree of interest from a journalistic perspective, as I saw a number of other users were affected with similar issues, but had received a frustrating lack of support and information.

I also agree with you, somewhat, on your commentary on the number of users affected. It is small, based on what the support engineers told me and what I've observed in the forums.

That said, there were 39 unresolved posts on Microsoft Answers alone, which indicates that a significant minority is having this issue.

With at least 39 cases and many detailed descriptions with log files, they should be able to track it down.

After all, the support engineer said it happened to HIM so they should have an ideal Windows install to dissect and diagnose.

I think the severity of the error (precluding MSO and IE9 installations) means that only it only affects ~1000 users, that's a major issue for Microsoft.


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By toyotabedzrock on 8/20/2011 4:24:58 PM , Rating: 2
I have had this problem on several Windows Vista machines.

By chance have you used AVG for your antivirus?

Thats the only thing I could figure that caused it.


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By JasonMick (blog) on 8/20/2011 5:39:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
By chance have you used AVG for your antivirus?
Thats the only thing I could figure that caused it.

Yes, but I would be hesitant to blame it. It is possible it removed some sort of vital component, but I saw no evidence of this, and -- like I said -- I turned it off during the whole MSO 2010 installation process/attempt.


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By Alexvrb on 8/20/2011 8:13:27 PM , Rating: 4
Yes, but if it caused a failed SP1 install, it could have caused the damage eons ago and it just never cropped up until now. I'm not saying that is the cause, I repeat I am not blaming AVG in this particular case. However I would like to note that AVG has been problematic for a long, long time. I used to be a big advocate of AVG, but after numerous issues, I have moved on. I switched every non-business machine I use, maintain, or repair to either Avast! or MSE (assuming they didn't have a strong preference or paid software that is on my approved list).

Frankly I didn't think MSE would be as solid as it is, but it is actually good enough that I now prefer it above any other free AV software. Of course paid AV software widens the field quite a bit. But paid or free, I still shy away from McAfee, Norton, and now AVG.

I would also like to metion that you should have noticed there was a problem with a failed SP1 install a long time ago. Then again, even though we're nerds, we're all human. Even the LARPers.


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By Mitch101 on 8/21/2011 12:23:31 AM , Rating: 2
I happened to have worked with our team that deployed Office 2010 in our office and attended the troubleshooting class for the product.

Whats worth mentioning is the Office 2010 engineer recommended when installing Office 2010 you choose to install everything and then uncheck the items you dont require. He mentioned there is an item that doesnt get installed if you dont do it this way but didnt say what.

I cant say our organization has seen the authors issue but we dont use AVG. I suspect your onto something with AVG as the author confirmed using it.


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By toyotabedzrock on 8/22/2011 12:18:25 PM , Rating: 3
Any reason why you don't like Norton?


By inperfectdarkness on 8/22/2011 9:40:23 PM , Rating: 2
i'm sticking with office 07. low and behold, no problems...yet.


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By toyotabedzrock on 8/22/2011 11:08:41 AM , Rating: 2
Remember AVG has had issues with deleting Windows components in the past.

It's really the only common link I can find.

I think AVG deletes a small part of the .NET framework in the registry or on the disk. I have found missing GAC files on one system.


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By DanNeely on 8/21/2011 9:37:10 AM , Rating: 2
No AVG on my affected box. MSE and Avast prior to that.


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By Alexvrb on 8/20/2011 8:30:30 PM , Rating: 2
I'd also like to note that this is why physical media with a nice well-labeled full-size DVD case is still important to me, at least for an OS. Not some poorly labeled DVD-R shoved who knows where or an image file saved who knows where.

I'm not necessarily saying this was the problem in your case, but it is just another annoyance I have with big-name OEM boxes. Ones I build for myself, I get a nice pretty DVD case that I sure as heck won't lose (especially after all the chickens I traded to get it).

Don't get me wrong, if you download software from a "big" cloud like Steam, Amazon, or from MS directly, it probably wouldn't have been a big deal to re-download. Some services are less hassle to redownload stuff. At least you probably wouldn't have had to torrent a possibly-virus-laden image. But it's still a lot more work and hassle even if it is readily available for download, when all you want to do is try a repair.


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By FaaR on 8/21/2011 4:23:15 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, this is why I don't buy ANYthing from digital river; their practise of expiring download links just so they can squeeze you for an extra $10 to provide you a "service" that isn't costing them anything anyway is just utterly scummy, frustrating and annoying.

At least with steam, you know your stuff will always be available for re-download (unless valve turns evil or goes bankrupt anyway...) :P


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By bodar on 8/21/2011 6:36:02 AM , Rating: 3
I think it's a little-known fact, but DR's Win7 links are static so you can download legit Win7 ISOs from them after the 30 day period. As long as you've got a product key and the URL, you're good. You just can't use their download manager.

http://www.mydigitallife.info/official-windows-7-s...


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By lost953 on 8/20/2011 10:28:49 PM , Rating: 2
Lets do a little math for instance you estimate the number of users with this issue is ~1000 the number of installs that are attempting now lets consider that there are probably over 200 million win 7 installs in the world
if say half of them have tried to use ie9 that means that we have a sample of 100 million people about 1000 have had problems or .001% of users... this is not a big problem and indeed is not a significant minority


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By Flunk on 8/21/2011 9:25:28 AM , Rating: 2
I work in computer software and ~1000 users of a product that has sold millions of copies is less than 1%. Seeing as there is a published work-around I wouldn't class this as a big problem, certainly not worth writing about.

Sure it's annoying, but unexpected interactions between software components happen all the time. I'm sure they have a team working on this problem but this sort of thing often takes a long time to figure out.

Microsoft is actually quite good at this sort of thing, if this was one of my company's products we would just point our customers to the work around and claim that the problem was solved.


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By leexgx on 8/21/2011 10:35:56 AM , Rating: 2
i am not surprised More .net framework errors happen more often, as there is an point where .net seems to rebuild it self after the updates have been installed

lately thought i have now been seeing that when an .net update is installing it no longer allows windows update to finish until its finished rebuilding the .net frame work first or sometimes it do it on an reboot (where interrupting it could damage .net framework)

in the past it say windows update has finished installing updates but if you open task manager you see that 2-3 processes (mscore.exe? or something like that) are using 1 full core at that point there is an big risk of damaging the .net framework if you interrupt it

why does .net framework have to do what it does seems bad way to do it, as on low end CPUs it can take an very long time to complete higher risk of it been broke


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By smitty3268 on 8/21/2011 8:51:25 PM , Rating: 2
That's an optimization process. It's compiling the .net MSIL assembly into x86 code specifically for your processor. It has to do that whenever a .net assembly gets updated.


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By tamalero on 8/21/2011 2:13:49 PM , Rating: 2
Most people just google and dont search much regarding these type of errors.. theres always blaming something else.. they blamed me for overclocking when I wasnt.. for installing a firewall.. when the same happened with no firewall..etc..etc...

Anyway;
I had similar corruption of the NET framework 3.5 which pretty sure is the core of windows 7...
and it CANNOT BE FIXED unless you reinstall everything.
Its not as rare as you might think... since it happened TWICE to me so far.
Caused probably by a game like TeamFortress2 crashing..

And it doesnt affect only Office or similars.
framework Dependable tools like IMPULSE system to install (object dock)
Overclocking tools (RadeonPro) and other based in framework, will obviusly fail to run... present errors, or do weird phenomena.

the most dumb part? if you run the SFC /scannow it will find errors, but wont fix them because the files are locked and in use.. and god bless Microsoft for blocking the SFC tool in safe mode.. making it pretty much useless for critical files.


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By erple2 on 8/22/2011 5:20:29 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Its not as rare as you might think... since it happened TWICE to me so far.

That statement is so full of why the internet is a terrible place to find information about failure rates of products (hardware and software), that my eyes are bleeding in statistical agony as I type this.

If it happened to you twice, and happened to 1000 people twice, and given the sheer number of Windows 7 users that this could possibly affect (given the "right" combination of .net installations), it still sounds to me like it's ultra-rare. Until you can provide information on more than your insignificant sample set, you can't make any claim about the rarity of the problem. You can only say that it's not rare for you. You still can't say anything about the problem's rarity in general.


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By tamalero on 8/23/2011 11:21:29 AM , Rating: 2
just do a goodamn google search, its not just a random "johndoe" saying LOL I GOT AN ERROR.
if its documented.. its affecting quite a bit of people.
still, a rare error.. affects twice.. 2 installations, different machines.. pleaase.

Its almost like the famous saying "once is an accident, twice is a coincidence.. thrice is war"


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By jms102285 on 8/20/11, Rating: -1
RE: Doesn't seem too common
By bupkus on 8/20/2011 7:36:16 PM , Rating: 3
My goodness-- the venom.


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By michael67 on 8/20/2011 8:36:37 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
My goodness-- the venom.

Agree, the wording is totally crap, and it could have bin fraised a hell of a lot better.

But that still dose not mean there is not a bid of truth in what he is saying.


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By jms102285 on 8/20/11, Rating: 0
RE: Doesn't seem too common
By Fritzr on 8/20/2011 10:19:55 PM , Rating: 3
The problem with using an alternate is that the bug is in .NET ... abandoning .NET means abandoning a lot of MSFT software.

Of course sending MSFT a letter with each purchase of a package (replacing a MSFT product) that does not need .NET and is not a MSFT offering, will get their attention if enough people do it :D


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By Gondor on 8/21/11, Rating: 0
RE: Doesn't seem too common
By Flunk on 8/21/2011 9:15:12 AM , Rating: 3
So you gave up Office after version 6.0 then? Microsoft's Office suite has long been the definition of bloatware. I still use it because there isn't anything even remotely comparable out there.


RE: Doesn't seem too common
By FaaR on 8/21/2011 4:31:37 AM , Rating: 2
Seems the one throwing a tantrum is you, mate.

Just because you haven't heard of an issue ("as an administrator" - whatever that means - or not) doesn't mean it's not affecting people, so no need to go off the deep end just to try to attack a web journalist (inferiority complex much?)


"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates














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