RESOLVED: Encountering Error 1603 While Installing SharePoint 2013 on Windows Server 2012 R2

While setting up some new development workstations, we encountered an error during SharePoint 2013 + SP1 installation which we had seen again and again.

To recap: The prerequisites install fine, SharePoint Setup runs, and then seemingly at the last step, it fails with:

osiserver.msi: “SharePoint Server 2013 encountered an error during setup”, Error Code 1603

Unsatisfied with the workarounds (read MSIBreak or the ORCA tool or changing the number of processors), and after having updated Windows with the latest patches, I called Microsoft and worked for weeks with their engineers at diagnosing the root issue of the problem, which for us was:

The SharePoint ArpWrite action (registering SharePoint 2013 as installed in the registry) attempted to access a missing registry key at HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer

So to resolve this, we wrote the following PowerShell script (run as Administrator):

if(!(Test-Path HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer)){
New-Item -Path HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer | Out-Null

$regProps = Get-ItemProperty -Path HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer

if(! $regProps.logging){
New-ItemProperty -Path HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer -Name logging -Value voicewarmup -PropertyType String | Out-Null

if(! $regProps.debug){
New-ItemProperty -Path HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Installer -Name debug -Value 3 -PropertyType DWord | Out-Null

And much to our shock, the installation succeeded!

Hopefully, this article can help anyone else out there with this problem until Microsoft publishes a fix or an updated installer.

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