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Installing SQL Server on Windows 8

Installing SQL Server on Windows 8

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One of the things I often try to do is make sure I understand the experience of customers when installing new versions of SQL Server or existing versions of SQL Server on new Windows Operating Systems.

So I took a recent tour of the experience installing SQL Server on Windows 8. I thought you might benefit by reading through my thoughts about this experience before you do this yourself.

Let’s start with SQL Server 2005. First, it is not supported on Windows 8 but I wanted to see if we did a good job telling you this. When you run setup.exe for SQL Server 2005, you are presented with this dialog box


I selected the “Get help online’ option and was presented with this dialog box


OK, this is not bad. We say here that this version of SQL Server 2005 is not compatible with Windows. Unfortunately, we still allow you to run the setup program from the previous dialog box but at least there is some warning that this is not compatible.

Now for SQL Server 2008 R2 (this is the same experience as SQL 2008). First, let me stop and tell you the support compatibility story:

  • SQL Server 2005 and any previous version is NOT supported on Windows 8/Windows Server 2012
  • SQL Server 2008 is supported on Windows 8/Windows Server 2012 but requires a minimum of Service Pack 3
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 is supported on Windows 8/Windows Server 2012 but requires a minimum of Service Pack 1
  • SQL Server 2012 RTM is supported on Windows 8/Windows Server 2012

We have an article that talks about this and I’ll show you that article shortly.

On to the SQL Server 2008 R2 experience. Because I know SP1 is required, I expect to get a similar dialog box as SQL Server 2005  but perhaps with more information that I can proceed and then install SP1 afterwards.


Yes looks similar to SQL Server 2005. When I select “Get help online” I get this dialog box again similar to SQL Server 2005


This time I select the link that says “Tap or clock to go online….”. This will bring up the following KB article



This article lists the specific requirements for SQL Server versions that I’ve listed above in this post. And the article includes some of the screenshots I’ll show you in the rest of this blog post. Don’t mind the comment in the article about “Release Candidate..”. Since Windows 8 has released we will change that.

Back to the dialog box.. If you go to the lower right corner you will see a link “View all problems this applies to”. Select this and you will get a new window that looks like this (you might have multiple rows if you have runs setup more than once)


If you double-click on this entry you now presented with this window which provides more clear instructions that it is ok to proceed with the installation provided you install the necessary service packs afterwards depending on what release of SQL Server you are installing


One thing that may confuse you is that if you select “View Solution” on this page, you will be brought back to one of the original screens I’ve already shown you in this post. The reason for this is that these “Problems” are stored in your Action Center History so if you were to look at any of these Problems in the Action Center History you would see the right solution. Through the setup process you are in a way shown the solution before the problem.

If you select OK out of this screen and two previous ones you are left with this dialog box


Since there is no option for “Run the program I’ve already looked at the help”<g> the only option to pick is “Run the program without getting help”. You can now proceed with the installation of SQL Server. One other thing though that may cause some confusion. If you have never installed SQL Server on this machine, you may get the above dialog box several times before the Installation Center appears. This is because we may need to run our setup.exe several times and this is the program that is associated with the compatibility dialog box

One other related experience to installing SQL Server on Windows 8 is an in-place upgrade of Windows 8 from Windows 7 when SQL Server is already installed. I didn't actually go through the entire in-place upgrade experience myself completely. But I did want to see what Windows 8 upgrade would say if I had SQL Server already installed. My thanks to my colleague Robert Dorr for this one. He did an in-place upgrade of his laptop at work and was confused by the Compatibility Report message about SQL Server. He asked me to look into it and the result of that investigation follows.

I setup a VM running Windows 7 with SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008 RTM, and SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 installed all side by side. I then chose to upgrade the VM with Windows 8.

At the very beginning of the install process, Windows 8 does a compatibility check for apps on your machine. For mine, it showed the following report



I understand the reason SQL Server 2005 is listed based on its unsupported status I’ve already talked about. Notice the recommendations for any of these application is to uninstall them before you continue. For SQL Server 2005, this may be a wise choice. As I’ve stated we don’t support SQL Server 2005 on Windows 8 and quite frankly we didn’t test what the affects might be to the upgrade. I can’t say your upgrade will have problems but all bets are off here. My recommendation is to uninstall it or upgrade it to a supported SQL Server release before continuing with the Windows upgrade.

The SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 listing is puzzling. I told you I have SQL 2008 R2 SP1 which is supported so why is it listed? This is because we bundled the message for compatibility together for both releases which is unfortunate. This means you will not be able to tell whether you have SQL Server 2008 or SQL Server 2008 R2 or if you have both, which one is causing the compatibility problem. But it does tell you one of these releases is not at a compatible version. The safest approach here is to stop the upgrade, and install the required supported service pack. However, I don’t know of any issue you would encounter by proceeding with the upgrade and then installing the required SQL service pack afterwards.

I hope these screenshots and side notes about the install experience on Windows 8 will help avoid any confusion for you and answer any questions you may have before you contact our Microsoft support teams.

There are some other interesting scenarios when installing with Windows 8/Windows Server 2012 which I’ll cover in my next blog post.


Bob Ward

Leave a Comment
  • Please add 5 and 3 and type the answer here:
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  • Funny that Windows 8 probably let's me run Lotus-1-2-3 but not SQL Server 2005.

    Say, I have a product that requires 2005, maybe, for Reporting. Would you say I should abandon the product or Windows 8?

  • I've never understood why each new version of Windows drops support for a version of SQL. On a 32-bit version of Windows 7, I can run 16-bit games which were written for Windows 3.1 or DOS 6.0, but I can't run any version of SQL released more than five years before the OS.

    Is there a genuine technical reason why SQL won't work, or is this forced obsolescence?

  • The above article related to x86 and x64, but what about WinRT?  Will SQL run on ARM processors for WinRT?

  • I just did an upgrade install of Windows 8 pro on a Windows 7 machine. I was not warned on install about sql 2005 compatibility.

    After the update to Windows 8 I can still run my Visual Studio Express projects that use sql 2005.

    Color me confused.

  • It's funny, I am installing Windows 8 on all machine in my company and when I am installing SQL Express 2008 R2, it was give me compatiblity error.

    I was jsut click on the "Don't show me this messages again" checkbox and click on run anyway button.

    The SQL is installed properly and it is running properly without any error.

  • Follow the steps to install SQL Server 2008 R2 on Windows 8

    1. Control Panel

    2. Turn On or Off Feature

    3. Select Dotnet - Need to have Dotnet 3.5 SP1

    4. Restart your computer

    5. Install SQL Server 2008/R2

    6. Smile :)

    Zakir Hossain, Data Group

    Question?? info@ DataGroupUSA com

  • Gracias esto si me funciono, mi problema es que no puedo instalar sql server Management 2008 como administrador de base de datos de Microsoft sql server xpress

  • window 8 show lots of error during installing sql server 2008/2008r2 and even2012 and after that show installing fail

  • very true. even i tried to install sql server 2005 in windows 8 but its showing problem after clicking "install without help". Setup will start but when it reaches 60 to 70 % it will show the error message and revert back. so i have installed windows 7 again

  • how to install sql server-2008 in windows-8

  • I instilled the service pack 3, but I still have a problem to create and connect a new server.

    please, tell me what can I do ?

  • Hi,

    i have tried the above procedure it worked for me thanks for the help. Yesterday i successfully installed sql server 2008 R2 on my w8 pro.

    Thanks :)

  • I don't have luck installing SQL Server on Windows... ;) ... had problems installing SQL Server 2008 on Win 7 last year, only to capitulate and let IT image the laptop to solve the problem.

    Now I have a new laptop, with Win 8 this time and I am trying to install SQL Server 2012... and long and behold its not happening for me. It just stops somewhere in the middle of install w/1406 error saying its unable to install. Then after clicking OK, it tries to restore the system to the starting point but it fails to do so after about 10 minutes. At this point the system is pretty much hosed... almost non responsive and the only way to do anything is to hard boot it w/the Power button.

    Any ideas? I have attempted the install from a user w/admin rights and definitely given the Admin password when asked. All compatibility tests prior to install passed and there was no sign of any trouble ahead. Its a brand new Dell Lattitude 6530 w/Win 8 and Office 2013. Not much else on it.

    Any ideas?

  • Thanks for this article, which helped me resolve this compatibility issue.

  • We also have a KB article that covers various issues related to installing SQL Server on Windows 8: Using SQL Server in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 environments ( support.microsoft.com/.../2681562)


    Ramu. (SQL Server Support team)

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