MSI Restart Manager – How it relates to Office updates and application restarts

Windows Installer 4.x and later includes the “MSI Restart Manager” which is designed to reduce required operating system reboots during Installer maintenance mode operations, by restarting applications rather than rebooting the operating system.

A typical Office update scenario where the MSI Restart Manager is used may be similar to the following:

1) Windows 7 machines have Office 2010 installed.
2) Using a sample update named KBxxxxxx.exe, extract the MSP files from the executable using a command line similar to the following (run the executable with the /? switch to see all available switches):

<path>\KBxxxxxx.exe /extract:<path>

3) A customer deploys an Office update during the business day or during off hours, prior to rebooting machines/ensuring that no Office applications are in use, using a command line similar to the one below:

%windir%\System32\msiexec.exe /P <path>\POWERPNT.msp REBOOT=ReallySuppress /L*V <path>\POWERPNT.log /QN

4) If a user has PowerPoint and a related document open at this point, an expected reboot will not be called for or suppressed.
5) Instead, the MSI Restart Manager is invoked, closes PowerPoint, allows files in use to be updated without a reboot, and reopens PowerPoint.
6) The resulting behavior is that, upon restart, PowerPoint’s auto recovery functionality has saved the file that was previously open, and the user is prompted how they want to proceed with the auto-recovered file.

In order to prevent the application restart from occurring and disable the MSI Restart Manager, a command line similar to the following can be used:

%windir%\System32\msiexec.exe /P <path>\POWERPNT.msp REBOOT=ReallySuppress MSIRESTARTMANAGERCONTROL=Disable /L*V <path>\POWERPNT.log /QN

It is important to note that if the MSI Restart Manager is disabled, a reboot is suppressed, and Office files to be updated are in use, changes to files will not occur until after the machine is rebooted (this would be a scenario where the log file ends with a return code of 3010).

The screenshots below illustrate the behavior which occurs when installing updates while Office apps are open, with and without the MSIRESTARTMANAGERCONTROL=Disable property being set.

1) If the MSI Restart Manager is not disabled, and the update process is run in quiet mode versus silent mode (“/QB” vs. “/QN”), the user will be prompted to close open applications:


 2) If the MSI Restart Manager is not disabled, and the update process is run in quiet mode, with only reboots suppressed, open Office applications will automatically be restarted. Upon restart, open documents will be auto saved and auto recovered.


3) Clicking the “Recovered” button will result in the Document Recovery pane being displayed, and the user will be prompted as to which copy of the document that they wish to save.



4) If the MSI Restart Manager is disabled, the update process is run in silent mode, and reboots are suppressed, Office applications will not be restarted, but the resulting log file will contain a 3010 exit/return code (see attached and the KB2464594.log file that it contains).


See the following articles for additional information on the MSI Restart Manager and the MSIRESTARTMANAGERCONTROL property:

Using Windows Installer with Restart Manager


Comments (1)

  1. Jonas Berends says:

    This is by far the clearest post I've seen so far on this subject, and the only one written with a sysadmin's perspective in mind.  Nice one.  Thank you Eric!