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Posted 31 Aug 2003

Interact With Desktop when Installing Windows Service

, 31 Aug 2003
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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));


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

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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

GeneralRe: The right way to do it ( Could not find System.Management Namespace. Pin
sheppe12-Nov-04 8:20
membersheppe12-Nov-04 8:20 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
chakkaradeepcc1-Dec-04 19:53
memberchakkaradeepcc1-Dec-04 19:53 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
chakkaradeepcc2-Dec-04 20:27
memberchakkaradeepcc2-Dec-04 20:27 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it (This way works) Pin
Anonymous1-Jan-05 6:58
sussAnonymous1-Jan-05 6:58 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it (This way works) Pin
TriggerBG3-Jan-05 5:41
memberTriggerBG3-Jan-05 5:41 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it (This way works) Pin
Sven Buth3-Mar-05 23:43
sussSven Buth3-Mar-05 23:43 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it (This way works) Pin
00zimbo13-Jun-05 4:56
member00zimbo13-Jun-05 4:56 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it (This way works) Pin
Anonymous13-Jun-05 5:39
sussAnonymous13-Jun-05 5:39 
Ok, I got it,

may anybody can use it, here is the code in VB.NET

Dim coOptions As New ConnectionOptions

coOptions.Impersonation = ImpersonationLevel.Impersonate

Dim mgmtScope As ManagementScope = New System.Management.ManagementScope("root\CIMV2", coOptions)


Dim wmiService As ManagementObject

wmiService = New ManagementObject("Win32_Service.Name='" + Me.ServiceInstaller1.ServiceName + "'")

Dim InParam As ManagementBaseObject = wmiService.GetMethodParameters("Change")

InParam("DesktopInteract") = True

Dim OutParam As ManagementBaseObject = wmiService.InvokeMethod("Change", InParam, Nothing)

Smile | :)
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
Lance C14-Jan-05 4:34
memberLance C14-Jan-05 4:34 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
corsairX8-Mar-05 22:37
membercorsairX8-Mar-05 22:37 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
corsairX8-Mar-05 23:13
membercorsairX8-Mar-05 23:13 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
pithhelmet24-May-05 6:36
memberpithhelmet24-May-05 6:36 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
Ryan L. Schneider18-Oct-05 10:34
memberRyan L. Schneider18-Oct-05 10:34 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
andronicm28-Oct-05 22:30
memberandronicm28-Oct-05 22:30 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
haha6242-Jan-06 4:14
memberhaha6242-Jan-06 4:14 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it (not working after Windows restart) Pin
RichEv11-Jan-06 6:31
memberRichEv11-Jan-06 6:31 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
Ryan McFarren19-May-06 8:43
memberRyan McFarren19-May-06 8:43 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
sedamkar22-Jun-06 8:10
membersedamkar22-Jun-06 8:10 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it (does not work in windows server 2003) Pin
BhargavaJK2-Aug-06 18:58
memberBhargavaJK2-Aug-06 18:58 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
dmihailescu8-Oct-07 12:42
memberdmihailescu8-Oct-07 12:42 
GeneralRe: The right way to do it Pin
ChrisG421-Aug-08 1:22
memberChrisG421-Aug-08 1:22 
GeneralNeed help getting fix to work Pin
jobspyder3-Nov-03 8:23
memberjobspyder3-Nov-03 8:23 
GeneralAnother way Pin
Richard Deeming3-Sep-03 0:05
memberRichard Deeming3-Sep-03 0:05 
GeneralRe: Another way Pin
andronicm28-Oct-05 22:32
memberandronicm28-Oct-05 22:32 
GeneralLeft Out On Purpose Pin
Blake Coverett1-Sep-03 7:38
memberBlake Coverett1-Sep-03 7:38 

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