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I'm trying to migrate a Windows XP deployment process to Windows 7. The process has been surprisingly smooth, after figuring out how to bring up a base system.

We rely heavily on Group Policy software installation, which in XP can mean long periods on any given morning sitting around watching the machine install new updates. At least the typical Windows Installer message shows the user that something is indeed happening.

As far as I can tell, Windows 7 retains the startup installation process (good), but eliminates the on-screen message to indicate what's happening (bad). All a user will see, possibly for a half-hour or more if they haven't restarted for a while, is the electric hamster wheel and the words "Please wait...". I forsee a significant increase in support calls...

If you're familiar with msiexec.exe parameters, XP behaves like /qb-, and 7 behaves like /qn. I want the /qb- behavior back.

Is there a way to re-enable the Windows Installer notices for Group Policy startup installations?

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It's offtopic but did you look at changing over to app-v? – Jim B Mar 19 '10 at 16:48
@JimB: App-V is part of MDOP and isn't available to basic Open License customers (retail and OEM licenses). You have to have one of MS's higher level licenses to get it: – Chris S Mar 19 '10 at 18:18
Yes MDOP is only available to volume license customers that have taken SA on the system pool. With any luck that changes soon – Jim B Mar 19 '10 at 23:15
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Are you talking about the GP installations that happen prior to login? If so, wasn't it a group policy setting that enabled those verbose status messages to begin with? It's in the system.adm template.

Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\System
"Verbose vs normal status messages" = Enabled

Directs the system to display highly detailed status messages.

If you enable this setting, the system displays status messages that reflect each step in the process of starting, shutting down, logging on, or logging off the system.

This setting is designed for sophisticated users that require this information.

Note: This setting is ignored if the "Remove Boot / Shutdown / Logon / Logoff status messages" setting is enabled.

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Bingo. Thanks. Looks like XP's default was equivalent to setting this Enabled, while 7's default is equivalent to Disabled. It might be a bit too verbose now, but that's better than near-total silence. – jonblock Mar 19 '10 at 20:49
+1 - This setting gets turned on at a domain root level GPO at every one of my Customer sites. – Evan Anderson Mar 22 '10 at 16:40

It's possible to put a much more informative box up on the screen, but it's very difficult. Newer programs sometimes come with this already, but most do not. I've never seen an older program do this.

You can make an MST to add the box to the installer file using Orca (part of the WinSDK), then configure GPO to use the MST on the MSI when installing. The general proceedure (by Microsoft, so very few details) for Authoring Conditional Please Wait message boxes. More information (though not directly applicable) is available from

Your best option is probably to just explain what's happening to the users.
You might consider using other deployment methods, such as MS SCCM or SCE.

share|improve this answer
If you're talking about the custom dialog boxes used by apps like MS Office, Autodesk products, etc. during a semi-attended install, none of those showed up when the apps were installed on XP startup. Not really what I'm looking for. – jonblock Mar 19 '10 at 20:05
No, those are completely different, but it looks like you found a different solution. – Chris S Mar 20 '10 at 1:57

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