How to Include .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 with Your Installer (Mary Lee)

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Recently in the Visual Studio Tools for Office forum, a Visual Studio 2008 SP1 developer asked how to include the .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 in the same directory as the application.  For example, you can select Download prerequisites from the same location as my application in the Prerequisites Dialog Box if your application is going out on CD and being installed without a network connection. 

However, when you try to build your setup project or ClickOnce installer, you see the following error message: "The install location for prerequisites has not been set to 'component vendor's web site' and the file 'DotNetFX35SP1\dotNetFX20\netfx20a_x86.msi' in item '.NET Framework 3.5 SP1' can not be located on disk. "

What does it mean?  The installers for .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 were not included in the VS2008 SP1 installer due to size restrictions. The default deployment experience is to download the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 from the Microsoft Download Center during installation. 

How do you include the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1? You can download the full .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 installer and extract the necessary files to the Visual Studio bootstrapper directory. After you modify the product.xml file and update the PublicKey value, the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 will appear in the Prerequisites Dialog Box. You can find the full instructions in the Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 Readme in section Enable Samesite for the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 bootstrapper package.


While these steps may seem lengthy, you only have to complete the steps once on your development computer. Then, every project you develop and deploy can include .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 as a prerequisite.

If you have further questions about deployment, visit the ClickOnce and Setup & Deployment MSDN forum to search for answers or ask your questions.

Happy deployment!

Mary R Lee, programming writer.

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  • By now, you have heard of all the great new features in Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and .NET Framework 3.5

  • By now, you have heard of all the great new features in Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and .NET Framework 3.5

  • We are having difficulty in deploying .net framework 2.0 with ClickOnce. We are using VS2005 though. We are able to include .net framework as a pre-requisite and it gets deployed to all the new installations, however, its not deployed while update. Is there anyway by which an installed application can download and install pre-requisites during an update operation?

    It will be really useful as you can keep including the pre-requisites as and when needed and they get installed by the ClickOnce when application checks for updates.

  • Do you know if a document that covers the same issue with regards to SQL Server 2008 Express?

  • Sachin - ClickOnce updates are not designed to check for prerequisites again.  only the Setup.exe is designed to check for and install prerequisites.

    for more information about the ClickOnce update process, see


  • Travis - SQL Server 2008 Express is not included as a prerequisite in Visual Studio 2008 Standard/Professional/Enterprise, but it is included when you use any Visual Express Edition, which are the free (and limited) versions of Visual Studio.

    download and install an Express Edition to install the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express Edition into the Visual Studio bootstrapper directory.  i tried it with the Visual Basic 2008 Express Edition with SP1, and during the installation, there is a prompt asking if you also want to install the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express Edition.  

    when you open Visual Studio again, you'll see SQL Server 2008 Express Edition in the Prerequisites dialog box.


  • Thanks for the reply. I 'mostly' have everything working. I just have a warning during the setup build that the PublicKey for the two SQL packages do not match the keys in the package.xml file.



  • hi Travis - there is no requirement to have the PublicKey in the package.xml if you are using Visual Studio Standard/Professional/Enterprise.  they are only required for the Express Editions.


  • The above solution works fine but on a clean Vista PC, the .Net Framework 3.5 SP1 requires an Internet connection to be able to finish the installation process. This cause a problem if the user pc doesn't have an Internet connection. It won't install to the client pc.

  • Gracias en realidad solucionaste mi problema, buscaba esta solucion hace tiempo y tu articulo sirvio.

  • Can you please provide the full contents of the product.xml and the package.xml files?

    This way my click once installer can check whether the framework is already installed or not.

  • I apply all of the instructions. But I still have the same error. Do you think error may be caused by language difference? Because in "Download the Language Pack Support Files" part of  Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack1 ReadMe file,  I can not see Turkish.

  • Applied instructions.  Project builds. But installer still tries to go to web to get framework, which is not possible on stand alone machine.

  • please can some one tell me how to go about this? i don't want the user to download .netframework 3.5 from microsoft link i want to manually include it in my setup project so that it will automatically be install offline before the user install my application. am using visual studio 2008 to build the setup

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How to Include .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 with Your Installer (Mary Lee)