To avoid hours of frustration, and the risk of having to do multiple reinstallations, here are some hints that might get you through it the first time.
What I had to do to get an installation that might be useful for a modder, i.e. one that will allow you to edit the .ini:
- Ensure that all previous attempts at installation are gone from your computer, uninstalled, with all the folders the installation created deleted.
- Create a directory in the C: drive that isn't Program Files. I called mine Gaming.
- Create a folder inside Gaming called Black Isle.
- Create a folder inside Black Isle called BGII - SoA (or Baldurs Gate, or Icewind Dale, or Icewind Dale II)
- Begin to install the game.
- When it gets to the part where the installer asks for the directory into which you should install the game, retype the path shown, substituting "Gaming" for "Program Files". For BG2, it was c:\gaming\black isle\bgii - soa. When I go to install Baldur's Gate, it will be c:\gaming\black isle\baldurs gate. You get the idea.
- Complete the installation of BG and BG2. You'll use c:\gaming\black isle\baldurs gate for BG1 and c:\gaming\black isle\bgii - soa for BG2. Repeat for Icewind Dale and Icewind Dale II.
- Install ToB. Since your registry shows the path to the game, you don't choose the installation directory.
- Install official patch 26498. It's available from bioware.com.
- Go to the folders, view properties, and select the security tab. Deselect the "read only" box.
- Hit "apply" and go through all the hoops that Vista makes you go through to change the setting. Mostly, it's just hitting "continue".
- Congratulate yourself for having avoided the 8 hour trial and error period it took me to figure out how to get an installation with an editable baldur.ini.
"But I'm a player, not a modder!" you might say. "I don't need to do any debugging."
That's right. You don't. It's the modder's job. But every once in a while, you might be asked to check a variable, or something like that. When I was just starting to play BG2, before I'd ever heard of mods, I ran into a problem with the paladin stronghold quest, and found help for the problem on a forum. The advice was to open the CLUAConsole and enter a bunch of SpriteIsDead variables. And this was with no mods installed at all, not even Baldurdash.
It's far easier to set it up this way from the beginning than it is to go back and do it all over.