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'Setup cannot find a version of Windows CE Services on this desktop PC' error while attempting to extract CABs Host Installer


Applies To

  • Windows CE 2.0, SP1
  • Handheld PC Professional, SP1
  • Handheld PC 2000
  • Windows CE 4.0, 4.1, 4.2 .net


While following CESD-S-0049 "Installing Applications from a Host Installer without a connection to a Host PC" you cannot bypass the following error message to being inflation of the host installer:

Setup cannot find a version of Windows CE Services on this desktop PC
Please make sure Windows CE Services is installed, and then run setup again.

Clicking OK on the error message will prematurely terminate the installer before any data files have been extracted into the system temporary environment or passed over to Windows Installer.


More Info

Application installers which detect the presence of the Windows CE Services or ActiveSync component are generally packaged inside either a MSI (Microsoft Installer) or InstallShield / InstallShield CE binary. Generally speaking forcibly bypassing the error message will provide no benefit towards obtaining the Windows CE CAB files needed to Host free application installation.
MSI files cannot be recursively dismantled by the client without carrying out the installation operation, while generally InstallShield installations will inflate InstallShield Cabinet files into the Windows temping environment. InstallShield CAB files do not use the Microsoft CAB file format and cannot be opened under windows or installed onto Windows CE - they are benign compression files and do not carry AppMGR scripts.

There are some additional installer types which may use other methods, and provide access to the Windows CE cabs within the Temp environment immediately after the check for Windows CE Services or ActiveSync. In such an instance the error message can be bypassed by providing the installer access to the Microsoft Mobile Device Remote API or MS RAPI.

Microsoft RAPI is available for download from the CESD download centre. The file is unsupported by Microsoft Corporation and by HPC:Factor. Use of the file is entirely at you, the users own risk.


Download the MSMDRAPI.EXE file from the CESD download centre above.

Double click the MSMDRAPI.EXE file to begin the installation. When prompted for an install location click browse and navigate to the location required by your Windows version as outlined below.

Windows 95, 98, 98SE, Millennium

Windows NT 4, 2000

Windows XP, 2003

Click OK to copy the MS RAPI file to your computers file system.

You should now find that you will not be presented with the Windows CE Services error message when attempting to run Host installers on a PC without ActiveSync installed.
Users should be aware that additional error messages relating to other ActiveSync modules will occur at a later stage in any installation procedure where ActiveSync is not present.

HPC:Factor strongly recommends that all users install ActiveSync to obtain CAB files from their system rather than attempting to break through installers. Many application developers display a willingness to provide direct CAB files to end users on request, and this should be explored before resorting to such methods as outlined here.


To uninstall the MS RAPI, delete the file RAPI.dll from the operating system path outlined above