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Welcome to the forum.
As one can have several versions of PrE installed and functioning, you are correct that earlier versions are not uninstalled, when a newer version is installed.
Given the circumstances, I would first do a Repair Install of PrE 4, and then the uninstallation routine should function properly. If that does not work, I would do an installation over the existing one, if it will complete. Then, hope that the uninstallation routine does completely uninstall.
There are utilities that will do uninstall routines, like Symantec's Clean Sweep. These do function better, if one allows them to monitor all installations, but can be run in manual mode, with a survey of the installed programs. I have Clean Sweep from an older Norton SystemWorks suite. I think that it is available as a stand-alone, but one would need to check. There are other such utilities, but I have never used any of those.
Two other thoughts: if you are correct, and a Registry cleaning is the culprit, most of those have a backup/restore scheme, and such might be useful. Also, one might be able to go back to a System Restore Point, prior to the damage to PrE 4. Make sure that you DO a System Restore Point for now, as a backup. System Restore is most often 100% effective, if run from Safe Mode.
Good luck, and maybe others have ideas,
Excellent suggestions regarding going to the backups to find the missing key. It didn't work, but it was still a great suggestion. Since I couldn't get the (un)installer to run past the point of checking space requirements before the 1606 error, I couldn't run the repair cycle. I contemplated the system restore carefully, but the restore point would probably have been well over a year ago. Good thought on the after market uninstallers but I agree that unless they were around to watch the 'goes-in', there's no telling what they'll to on the 'goes-out'. Given the crap-shoot of trying to pick a reputable after market uninstaller to blindly remove APE4 without hosing anything else, I opted to take fate into my own hands...
So, I spooled a copy of the drive off to the back-up unit, flushed the folders, swept about 700 keys from the registry [700!!], and will keep fingers crossed for a little while. Cursory checks on the other Adobe apps appear stable but we'll see what happens when I actually try to do a project.
In hindsight, apart from possibly being able to check the registry for each and every file before removal and compiling some list of all the things it was going to do for human review, the basic process a blind uninstaller would do use is pretty much what I did. And since most of those tool are designed for unskilled operators, I probably wouldn't have found one that was quite so dilligent in its reporting and actions anyway.
Thanks for the guidance -- you at least confirmed that the path I was planning through the wilderness was reasonable. I'd pour you a glass of one of our fine NY State wines right here, but it would just gum up the keyboard.
You got some X'ed fingers for you here from Arizona too. Hope that all works now.
I do not recall reading of any uninstall issues with PrE 4, but might have missed some. Other than the installation of PrE 4 hosing the CS2 Production Studio suite (at least Adobe found out about this and had a KB article, when it happened to me), the installer/uninstaller seemed to be pretty good. I wonder what happened along the way.
Maybe we need to swap a lovely Arizona wine for a NY State one. Though not as well-known outside the state, we have some great areas around Sedona, north of PHX, and down around Sonoita, southeast of Tucson. Some very good Viognier, Cab Sauvignon and Syrah, plus a few winemakers, who know what they are doing. I also hear talk of some Pinot Noir, but have not found any at retail in PHX. Now, we have little, or no Icewine, or even Late Harvest wines here - at least not yet.
Good luck, and let us know how it goes,