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How to install VS 2005 and MSDN for VS 2005 on XP without SP2

How to install VS 2005 and MSDN for VS 2005 on XP without SP2

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Microsoft has an internal program for testing hotfixes that apply to Windows XP SP1 that asks some employees to not install XP SP2.  Some of the people in this program have wanted to install VS 2005 and when they tried, they ran into the blocks in VS setup that require XP SP2 to be installed.  VS 2005 setup does not have any technical requirements on XP SP2, but the block is in place to encourage everyone to upgrade to SP2, and also to reduce the test matrix.  If you are running into this block and really need to install VS 2005 on a system that is running Windows XP without SP2, you can use the following steps.  Please note that these steps are not officially supported and I would recommend installing XP SP2 before installing VS 2005 if at all possible:

  1. Navigate to the setup subfolder on the VS 2005 DVD and run VS 2005 as follows to skip all prerequisite checks - setup.exe /NO_BSLN_CHECK

Important note - if you use the above option, none of the prerequisites for Visual Studio 2005 will be installed.  You need to make sure to manually pre-install Windows Installer 3.1, the .NET Framework 2.0 and the MSXML 6.0 Parser using the setup packages located in the wcu subfolder on the VS 2005 DVD.  Failure to do so will result in errors during the VS installation process.


  1. Launch regedit.exe
  2. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Windows
  3. Change the CSDVersion value to be 512 or higher (0x0000200 in hexadecimal)
  4. Close regedit.exe and install Visual Studio 2005
  5. Rerun regedit.exe and change the CSDVersion value back to what it was originally

Once VS 2005 is installed, you will run into a separate block while trying to install MSDN.  To workaround this, you can use the same registry-based workaround listed above, or do the following:

  1. Install Orca if you haven't already (you can get a copy here without downloading the whole Windows Installer PSDK)
  2. Copy the contents of the VS 2005 DVD to your computer
  3. Right-click on the file msdn.msi and choose Edit with Orca
  4. Go to Launch condition table and remove the row with the following data in the condition column: "(VersionNT>501) OR (VersionNT=500  AND ServicePackLevel>3) OR (VersionNT=501  AND ServicePackLevel>1)    The minimum operating system requirement is Windows 2000 SP4,  Windows XP SP2, or Windows Server 2003"
  5. Save and close msdn.msi
  6. Install MSDN from the local copy

Note: after changing the CSDVersion registry key or modifying msdn.msi using Orca, you will need to use the following command line to install MSDN:  msiexec /i msdn.msi SETUP_EXE=yes

<update date="8/26/2005"> I didn't specify clearly enough when I posted this last night that these steps are not "officially" supported, I must have been a little tired and left off the disclaimer I normally write when I post tips like this.  I've added it above.

<update date="11/8/2005"> After receiving email from Fabrice based on the comments posted here, I realized that there is an additional step needed to install MSDN after using the workarounds listed above.  I've updated the steps accordingly </update>

<update date="4/5/2006"> Added a caveat to option 1 above that you must manually install prerequisites in order to use this option </update>


  • I got an easier way:
  • Aaron Stebner explains a couple of little tweaks you can do to install Visual Studio 2005 on Windows...
  • اگه مي‌خوايد VS 2005 نصب کنيد ولي علاقه‌اي به نصب سرويس پک&amp;nbsp;2 XP نداريد، اين مطلب رو بخونيد.
  • Hi Mahen - the way you describe in your blog appears that it would work also, but it will only work for the Express editions. Also, installing the MSI directly from inside ixpvc.exe (or any of the other Express packages) does not get tested at all by the product teams and I think it will have other side effects (such as the add\remove programs entry being broken for the product) so I would suggest using the steps I posted if you need to install VS on XP without SP2.

  • Hi Aaron,

    the CSDVersion trick works fine. But why the VS 2005 installation program complains about the missing SP2 if it doesn't really require it?

    I'm still working with SP1 because I'm developing with VC6 which can't read the debug information symbols from SP2.
  • Hi Sven - the VS 2005 installation program complains because it has data files that tell it that XP SP2 should be a requirement before allowing setup to proceed. There are a few reasons for making this a requirement:

    1. XP SP2 contains a newer version of Windows Installer, so that does not have to be installed separately.

    2. XP SP2 has a lot of security enhancements and other bug fixes that help improve the overall security and stability of the OS and of Visual Studio

    3. Requiring a minimum of SP2 greatly reduces the test matrix for the teams who test VS 2005

    Unfortunately there are specific scenarios where some folks cannot upgrade to XP SP2, such as your debug information scenario with VC6. I provided this workaround as an unofficial solution specifically for this type of situation where folks want to try VS 2005 but cannot yet upgrade to XP SP2.

  • That sounds convincing. Thanks for your workaround, it helped me a lot. So I can still develop with VC6 and build the x64 apps on the same machine.
  • Has anyone managed to install the MSDN part this way?
  • Hi Fabrice - changing the CSDVersion registry key or removing the launch condition using Orca like I describe above should both work for installing MSDN. Please contact me using http://blogs.msdn.com/astebner/contact.aspx if the steps do not work for you.

  • Thanks for the work around. Installed visual studio fine, had some trouble with MSDN. in the end I used Orca to remove the clause to check if run from setup.exe (obviously the other check aswell) and then it installed fine. I tried to run from command line using parameter SETUP_EXE=YES but it gave the SP2 required error. thanks anyway,

  • Hi Will - can you double-check that you removed the correct launch condition from the MSDN MSI by re-opening it in Orca? If the launch condition is removed, there is not any way that an SP2 error message could happen because that is the only place that any OS checking happens within that MSI. If you are still unable to get this to work please zip and send me a copy of the MSI that you modified so I can take a look. You can send it to aaronste@microsoft.com.

  • hi,astebner,i used the 1st method to install vs2005(setup.exe /NO_BSLN_CHECK),it wroks fine.but then i used the 2nd method(modify the registry) to install msdn,it failed...why?
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