Attempt to install Desktop Experience failed with error code 0x8000FFFF in windows server 2008

This is a Windows Server 2008 hot issue found in the technet forum.

In Windows Server 2008, you want to install windows mail or windows media player, so you enable the desktop experience feature.
But later for somewhat reason, you disable the desktop experience feature. After that if you want to get this back, you will encounter an error:

<Error>: Attempt to install Desktop Experience failed with error code 0x8000FFFF. Catastrophic failure (Exception from HRESULT: 0x8000FFFF (E_UNEXPECTED))

This issue can be caused by windows updates: e.g. KB973540, KB968816, KB954155. After uninstalling them, desktop experience will be successfully enabled again. Then you can reinstall these updates.

The updates are for Windows Media Service. They were pushed through Windows Update when Desktop Experience is enabled and Windows Media Service is enabled. However, the updates were not removed together with Desktop Experience removal. When enabling Desktop Experience again, it will detect the files are newer, thus Desktop Experience failed to install.

Forum threads reference:


Edit: We have published a Knowledge Base article for this issue:

Comments (7)

  1. danma_ says:

    You may check the KB released to Desktop Experience like Windows Media Service.

  2. danma_ says:

    @Marcus, you can check the update released to Desktop Experience like Windows Media Service, and uninstall them, then re-enable the desktop experience.

  3. Jolene says:

    Hi, I don't have either of these KBs installed on my server. Are there other KBs that could be causing this issue?

  4. Marcus B says:


    I have exactly this problem, I have unistalled the updates as suggested without success, any other ideas?


  5. crk112 says:

    Doesn't work either.. .no KBs related to Desktop Experience or Windows Media.

  6. Anonymous says:

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  7. John Boy says:

    How about a novel concept… fix it! It’s always, do this or do that, oh here’s a workaround… No, just fix it. I wonder why Windows licensing is tanking. Instead of releasing a new version so you don’t have to fix a problem, how about you have longer
    release cycles and fix the ***!

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