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Posted 31 Aug 2003


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Interact With Desktop when Installing Windows Service

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4.48/5 (34 votes)
31 Aug 20032 min read
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

Comments and Discussions

QuestionPlease Help Pin
Member 1123752216-Nov-14 0:10
MemberMember 1123752216-Nov-14 0:10 
QuestionAn exception occurred during the Install phase. Pin
Pouriya Ghamary28-Apr-12 23:34
MemberPouriya Ghamary28-Apr-12 23:34 
GeneralMy vote of 3 Pin
[TEC]Mihail18-Jan-12 6:53
Member[TEC]Mihail18-Jan-12 6:53 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
martinrj3013-Dec-11 15:22
Membermartinrj3013-Dec-11 15:22 
GeneralAn alternative, better solution Pin
FtpDaemon23-Apr-11 11:30
MemberFtpDaemon23-Apr-11 11:30 
GeneralUse using(RegistryKey cKey = ..) or explicit call cKey.close() Pin
Koprinkov3-Feb-11 2:13
MemberKoprinkov3-Feb-11 2:13 
QuestionWell Does this Work with Win7 + VS.Net 2010 Pin
MarkWardell8-Jan-11 4:28
MemberMarkWardell8-Jan-11 4:28 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Bigdeak4-Oct-10 0:19
MemberBigdeak4-Oct-10 0:19 
GeneralMy vote of 4 Pin
shanthiram710-Aug-10 10:24
Membershanthiram710-Aug-10 10:24 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
usmanbinasif28-Jun-10 1:50
Memberusmanbinasif28-Jun-10 1:50 
Generalsimplified VB.NET 2005 Pin
Member 452036318-May-09 9:23
MemberMember 452036318-May-09 9:23 
GeneralYet another way to do it Pin
Member 96679523-Feb-09 1:13
MemberMember 96679523-Feb-09 1:13 
GeneralRe: Yet another way to do it Pin
JeyaChithra Sankar11-Sep-13 22:59
MemberJeyaChithra Sankar11-Sep-13 22:59 
GeneralMoving code to OnCommited to make it work [modified] Pin
bergdoktor3-Feb-09 22:09
Memberbergdoktor3-Feb-09 22:09 
GeneralRe: Moving code to OnCommited to make it work Pin
rexwang111-Nov-09 22:26
Memberrexwang111-Nov-09 22:26 
GeneralRe: Moving code to OnCommited to make it work [modified] Pin
Member 1144519815-Sep-18 20:06
MemberMember 1144519815-Sep-18 20:06 
GeneralYou saved me a major panic just on the brink of a deadline Pin
SimonWilliams8-Jul-08 7:43
MemberSimonWilliams8-Jul-08 7:43 
General'breadcrumb' Pin
izmoto8-Apr-08 1:52
Memberizmoto8-Apr-08 1:52 
Questionthis.Installers.Clear(); ? Pin
krishna_mag4-Jan-08 1:21
Memberkrishna_mag4-Jan-08 1:21 
GeneralReally Awsome! Pin
Sapphire043026-Dec-07 14:37
MemberSapphire043026-Dec-07 14:37 
GeneralAbout Exceptions in Windows Service Pin
Pradeep Sattikar27-Nov-07 22:23
MemberPradeep Sattikar27-Nov-07 22:23 
GeneralAbout Exceptions in Windows Service Pin
Pradeep Sattikar27-Nov-07 22:22
MemberPradeep Sattikar27-Nov-07 22:22 
GeneralIntractive Service Pin
73amit10-Oct-07 19:48
Member73amit10-Oct-07 19:48 
GeneralUse the name of the service programaticly Pin
Yitzhak Gootvilig14-Aug-07 3:58
MemberYitzhak Gootvilig14-Aug-07 3:58 
QuestionCheckbox has no effect ! [modified] Pin
floydus2731-Jul-07 4:50
Memberfloydus2731-Jul-07 4:50 

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