Changes have been made to the Windows SDK build environment and how the SDK interacts with MSBUILD and Visual Studio 2008.   This post applies to the RTM release of the Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 3.5 SP1

What changed with the Windows SDK for Windows 7?

The Windows SDK for Server 2008 sets a registry key upon installation to identify the SDK as the “current” SDK to use when building.  This key is used by the VC++ toolset in both Visual Studio 2008 and in the Windows SDK build environment:

  • On an X86 computer: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft SDKs\Windows
  • On an X64 or IA64 computer: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Microsoft SDKs\Windows

The Windows SDK for Windows 7 does not set this key during installation in order to avoid unexpected changes to Visual Studio 2008.  To set the Windows SDK used by Visual Studio, use the Windows SDK Configuration Tool. 

Out-of-the-box experience with the Windows SDK for Windows 7

If you install the Windows SDK for Windows 7 on a clean computer and create an application with the SDK build environment, the SDK will use the Windows 7 headers, libraries and tools that are included with the SDK.


If Visual Studio 2008 is installed, MSBuild and/or VCBuild will default to the headers, libraries and tools that have been previously integrated with Visual Studio 2008, in most cases, this is the (Vista-level) Windows SDK v6.0a. If this is the case, the Windows SDK build environment will display a warning when launched.


How to use the Windows SDK for Windows 7 headers, libraries and tools with Visual Studio 2008

Use the Windows SDK Configuration Tool to set the Windows 7 SDK as the “current” SDK for MSBuild and VCBuild. This will update the Windows 7 SDK build environment and the Visual Studio 2008 IDE build environment to use the Windows 7 SDK headers, libraries and tools.  You can also use this tool to switch it back again.


To run the GUI version of the Windows SDK Configuration Tool, go to Start, All Programs, Microsoft Windows SDK v7.0, Visual Studio Registration, Windows SDK Configuration Tool.

Send your thoughts to the Windows SDK Feedback alias.  Tell us how you use the SDK and what we can do to improve your development experience.  The MSDN Windows SDK Developer Center is the place to find resources and links to Windows SDK products, release notes, technical articles, and more.

Karin Meier-Magruder
Program Manager
Windows SDK Team