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Interact With Desktop when Installing Windows Service

, 31 Aug 2003 291.4K 70
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This article will describe how to set the "Allow Service to Interact With Desktop" on a windows service created in .NET


In this article I explain how to set the "Allow Interact with Desktop" parameter when installing a .Net Windows Service.


I have written many windows services and it always bothered me and my colleagues that the ServiceInstaller class used to install to install Windows services does not give you the ability to set the "Allow Interact with Desktop" attribute for the service. I am assuming that Microsoft left this out for a reason, overlooked it, or is planning it for future releases. As the framework stands now, if you need desktop interaction, you have to either code the service setting into your installation program (WISE, InstallSheild, IndigoRose, etc) or manually set it after the service is installed. To my dismay I could not find any references to this issue on CodeProject or any of the other websites. With no information and no built in functionality, the gauntlet had been laid. The answer is extremely simple, but somehow eluding.

Using the code

Shown below is a copy of a ServiceInstaller constructor method. You will notice I have created the ServiceInstaller and the ServiceProcessInstaller and configured them like normal. To set the "Interact with Desktop" attribute, we have to manually edit the service in the registry. This has to be done after adding the ServiceInstaller and the ServiceProcessInstaller to the Installers container. At this point the registry entries for the service have been created and now we just need to modify the "Type" registry value under the services subkey. The "Type" value is a DWORD or blittable to an int in C#. This integer is used to store different attributes about the service. If the "Type" value is viewed in Hex, the third bit is the "Interact with Desktop" bit. To flip this bit we need to a bitwise OR on the value like so:

10h in decimal is 16
100h in decimal is 256

00010h OR 00100h = 00110h (Here the third digit is flipped )

...or in decimal it is:
16 OR 256 = 272 

I only mention decimal because it is easier to OR the values as decimals. Below you will see the code to do all this. A 8 line solution that is worth a million. Have fun and hopefully this article will keep others like myself from pulling their hair out over such a simple problem. All the services are in the registry under the following key:


public WindowsServiceInstaller()
  // This call is required by the Designer.
  ServiceInstaller si = new ServiceInstaller();
  si.ServiceName = "WindowsService1"; 
  si.DisplayName = "WindowsService1";
  si.StartType = ServiceStartMode.Manual;
  ServiceProcessInstaller spi = new ServiceProcessInstaller();
  spi.Account = System.ServiceProcess.ServiceAccount.LocalSystem; 
  spi.Password = null;
  spi.Username = null;
  // Here is where we set the bit on the value in the registry.
  // Grab the subkey to our service
  RegistryKey ckey = Registry.LocalMachine.OpenSubKey(
    @"SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\WindowsService1", true);
  // Good to always do error checking!
  if(ckey != null)
    // Ok now lets make sure the "Type" value is there, 
    //and then do our bitwise operation on it.
    if(ckey.GetValue("Type") != null)
      ckey.SetValue("Type", ((int)ckey.GetValue("Type") | 256));


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About the Author

Robert H. Davis II
United States United States
No Biography provided

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralIn my winXP System i have to add this code this.Installers.Clear() Pin
lkaou9-Nov-05 20:13
memberlkaou9-Nov-05 20:13 
GeneralIf that doesn't work... Pin
Anonymous1-Jan-05 6:59
sussAnonymous1-Jan-05 6:59 
GeneralNot Able to run another application Pin
chakkaradeepcc1-Dec-04 20:14
memberchakkaradeepcc1-Dec-04 20:14 
GeneralRe: Not Able to run another application Pin
Seydoux5-Oct-05 6:11
memberSeydoux5-Oct-05 6:11 
GeneralRe: Not Able to run another application Pin
Lalit N Dubey17-Feb-06 1:39
memberLalit N Dubey17-Feb-06 1:39 
GeneralRe: Not Able to run another application Pin
Lalit N Dubey9-May-06 23:11
memberLalit N Dubey9-May-06 23:11 
GeneralAbsolutely delightful! Pin
Anonymous31-Aug-04 22:31
sussAnonymous31-Aug-04 22:31 
QuestionOnly works with LocalSystem account? Pin
Anonymous28-Jul-04 11:01
sussAnonymous28-Jul-04 11:01 
I have a service that I install to run as the "NetworkService" user, instead of the "LocalSystem" user. I tried flipping that bit by hand in the registry and restarting the service, but my console window does not display, like it does when I run as LocalSystem. So I suspect that the bit (just like the dialog box checkbox) only applies if you are running as LocalSystem. Maybe not, but I though I would mention it.
AnswerRe: Only works with LocalSystem account? Pin
daDude18-Oct-05 11:06
memberdaDude18-Oct-05 11:06 
GeneralThank you guys Pin
israel@jp-inc.com2-Jun-04 22:41
memberisrael@jp-inc.com2-Jun-04 22:41 
GeneralRe: Thank you guys Pin
Dave Midgley17-Mar-06 0:45
memberDave Midgley17-Mar-06 0:45 
GeneralRe: Thank you guys Pin
73amit10-Oct-07 22:34
member73amit10-Oct-07 22:34 
GeneralThank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you,,Thank you. Pin
nekane17-Feb-04 23:39
membernekane17-Feb-04 23:39 
GeneralRe: Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you,,Thank you. Pin
Anonymous30-Jun-05 12:09
sussAnonymous30-Jun-05 12:09 
GeneralRe: Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you,,Thank you. Pin
Bested19-Jul-07 1:01
memberBested19-Jul-07 1:01 
GeneralInteract issue Pin
Lord Fonty20-Jan-04 4:41
memberLord Fonty20-Jan-04 4:41 
GeneralThe right way to do it Pin
Anonymous24-Nov-03 21:31
sussAnonymous24-Nov-03 21:31 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
Gennadiy Sterin15-Mar-04 4:19
memberGennadiy Sterin15-Mar-04 4:19 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
codeshasyou18-Oct-05 21:50
membercodeshasyou18-Oct-05 21:50 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
RichNFamous17-Mar-06 1:46
memberRichNFamous17-Mar-06 1:46 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
We1rd0 Pr0grammer23-Mar-06 16:55
memberWe1rd0 Pr0grammer23-Mar-06 16:55 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
RichNFamous27-Mar-06 7:39
memberRichNFamous27-Mar-06 7:39 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
jvargasr28-Apr-06 9:52
memberjvargasr28-Apr-06 9:52 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
BhargavaJK30-Jul-06 22:12
memberBhargavaJK30-Jul-06 22:12 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
Savan Gandhi16-Dec-07 23:41
memberSavan Gandhi16-Dec-07 23:41 

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