For future reference...

Installing random Windows software under XP Home/Pro (for me, it was Minolta’s DiMAGE Capture software, that lets me control my A2 from a (Windows-only) laptop). InstallShield locks up, and has to be killed from the task manager. After dismissing several pointless dialog boxes, the error The Installshield Engine (iKernel.exe) could not be loaded. appears.

Eventual solution: completely delete C:\Program Files\Common\InstallShield

If that still doesn’t do it, nuke the directory again and follow the detailed instructions here.

Apparently, the person at work who built my new Alienware laptop (“Hi, Rory!”) installed something that left a broken version of InstallShield on the drive. In the fine tradition of robust software engineering, any subsequent installer built with that particular version of Installshield will cough up a lung when it tries to save time by using the cached version.