Sunday, August 24, 2008

Setup failed to install product catalog

Had a first today.

A friend of a friend suffered a hard drive crash on their old Gateway Pentium 4 computer. While installing Windows XP Pro on a brand new replacement HDD, I encountered an error message I had never seen before: "Setup failed to install product catalog." Clicking through the error dialog box I viewed the log file, where there were a couple more nasty messages about "Setup had problems registering OLE control DLL" and "Signature for Windows Professional setup invalid."

Wow... talk about trying to hurt a guy's feelings.

A little Googleing got me to this Microsoft page that points the finger of blame at bad memory or a problem deleting a directory during the installation process.

I know the memory is good because I ran MemTest86+ overnight just to be certain that I wasn't dealing with a memory or CPU problem.

So, I follow the instructions on the Microsoft page to delete the directory and continue with the install. A few minutes later the error recurred.

Now I was starting to think I might have a bad HDD, so I downloaded and ran the manufacturer's diagnostic software. This drive was a Hitachi, so I used their Drive Fitness Test, but you can find a similar utility for any brand hard drive.

It tested perfect. Now what?

Back to Google, of course. I encountered this page that reported that the OLE error could be traced back to an outdated BIOS. Hmmm... sounds like something worth trying.

Gateway has a pretty good downloads section, and I was able to locate a newer BIOS. The only problem was that the BIOS is packaged to be installed from within Windows! Stupid or what?

After creating a bootable floppy on another computer (it really is worth keeping at least one working floppy around for occasions like this), I copied the BIOS files onto it. I was able to successfully boot to this floppy and flash the BIOS. Hooray!

Problem solved. I was now able to install Windows without a glitch.

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