Visual Studio.NET 2005 (Whidbey) Installation
Notes and Tips
(Revised May 2004)
By Peter A. Bromberg, Ph.D.

Peter Bromberg

Well, now that Whidbey is on its second major Alpha distro after the MVP summit, I figured I'd take the plunge and get that little puppy installed. After all, there is such a deluge of Longhorn, Whidbey, C# 2.0 and related articles and posts out there, I was beginning to feel a bit left "out in the cold".

The download from MSDN Subscriber is a DVD image file. First thing you'll need to have (besides an MSDN subscription) is a DVD burner and the right software. If you are using something like Nero, which doesn't understand ".img" file extensions, you can simply rename the VSENARD1.img file to VSENARD1.iso and it will burn just fine. Or, if you want, you can use a proggie like ISOBuster to simply extract everything into a folder on your harddrive. I put this on one of my main machine's bootable partitions that is running Windows XP Pro with Service Pack 2, and I'm happy to report that, except for a couple of annoying items, it was a total "no - brainer".

N.B. - As of Late May 2004, the Tech-Ed May build is available at Subscriber Downloads.

The big FAQ question everyone probably has is "Can I put this on alongside my existing Visual Studio.NET 2002 or 2003" on the same partition, without breaking all my existing stuff?

Well, the short answer is "Yes". It behaves just like previous versions, the .NET Framework 2.0 is installed in its own folder, and Visual Studio.NET 2005 only works with that version, just as VS.NET 2003 doesn't work with Framework version 1.0. There are a couple of caveats, but they are easily taken care of and I'll cover the ones I found shortly.

Your first surprise will be the way it installs:

Apparently, the Dev Team got wind of developers complaining about lengthy install times and changed around the way it works (for the better). It used to go through this lengthy process where each and every file would be copied over and show in the Status area (where it says "Current Component is still installing", above). Now, all the major file groups appear to be stored in CAB archives instead of individually on the media and it looks like they've made the process more efficient. Another thing you'll notice is that the install process is more "silent' - you don't see a lot of messages going on or long lists of registry keys going by. The only two glitches I noticed were that during the time it was installing the last item (Visual Studio Enterprise) the status area continued to read "Visual J#.NET Redistributable Package", and also, near the end I lost my optical mouse (I got it back after the last reboot though).

Once The Framework, Visual Studio.NET 2005 and the accompanying MSDN Library are installed, my system behaved as normal. There are some annoying changes that have to be fixed, though, so let me save you some time:  The MSDN Subscriber version has some registry settings that weren't changed to match this release, and so your IIS Properties content menu items on all your web sites and Virtual Directories won't work. And, unfortunately, the fix that's described in the Readme.htm (you did know there's one of those, didn't you?) is incorrect. I quote from this magnificent work below, along with the corrections:

8.1. Accessing Properties in the Internet Services Manager Causes the Internet Services Manager to Crash

Viewing any Web sites, the Default Web Site, Virtual Directories or sub-directories may cause Internet Information Server (IIS) to crash. This problem is caused by a corrupted registry key.   [Oh, don't you just love that! It ain't a CORRUPTED registry key, dudes!   It's one that you guys forgot to change from the PDC version! ]  To resolve the problem, you can modify the registry key values using the registry editor (regedit.exe). Steps to reproduce: 1. Start->run->inetmgr 2. Select a virtual directory and attempt to modify its properties.

To resolve this issue

Open the registry editor by selecting Run from the Start menu, typing regedit, clicking OK.
Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\ASP.NET and locate the registry key with the name 2.0.40301.9 (pd4.040301-0900).
Rename this registry key to 2.0.40301.9.
CORRECTION! : Should really be renamed to: "2.0.40301"

Select the registry key named 2.0.40301.9 (nope - see above) and locate the sub-key named DllFullPath. Right-click the sub-key named DllFullPath and select Modify. In the Value data: text box, type the file location of the aspnet_isapi.dll for the .NET Framework version 2.0.40301. For example, C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.Net\Framework\v2.0.40301\aspnet.isapi.dll.

Note Windows may not be installed in the C:\WINDOWS directory on your server. Be sure to use the proper path to the Windows installation for your server.

Select the registry key named 2.0.40301.9 (whoop- we renamed this right?)and locate the sub-key named Path. Right-click the sub-key named Path and select Modify. In the Value data: text box, type the folder location of the aspnet_isapi.dll for the .NET Framework version 2.0.40301. For example, C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.Net\Framework\v.2.0.40301. Note Windows may not be installed in the C:\WINDOWS directory on your server. Be sure to use the proper path to the Windows installation for your server. Close the registry editor.

N.B.- The above applies only to the March 2004 Build. This all appears to be fixed in the May 2004 build.

There! now that we've fixed that insulting little tidbit of advice, go into IIS Manager and right click on any Web Sites, Web Site or Application node and your familiar Properties window will come up just fine. When it does, you'll notice something brand new has been installed:

Yup! its the "ASP.NET" tab! And what it does, very conveniently, is allow you to set which version of the runtime you want that site (or Application) to use! If you choose version 2.XXXX, you have one additional cool item you can bring up when you choose the "Edit Configuration" button (By the way, if the one with the ".9" is still showing you should be able to change it to your new one with ".2.0.40301"):

Tada! It's the all new Configuration Settings Window! And as you can see from the first tab and all its brethren tabs up top, from it you can set all kinds of very cool config settings about your app (or site) from AppSettings to authorization, to much more. Now, I don't know about you, but I think that's downright User Friendly!

Another area you will find is "broken" is the MSDN Help Search. Apparently, one of the MS Programming Team had forgotten an internal machine name (TBOX3) in the code, and so the MSDN Library is trying to search on it for a Web Service "/msdn/service/msdn.asmx". The developer even left the username and password (in clear text) in the code!

However, all is not lost: Wallace McClure has kindly posted a link with his fix:

This won't fix the Online Help search because of the issue noted above, but on mine it did fix the F1 help and internal (to the IDE) Search functions, which are all I care about for now.

N.B. For the May 2004, build most of these issues are fixed, except one: In the following folder:

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\help whidbey

you will find the help config file: "dexplore.exe.config". The following two elements need to have the version number changed to what you see here:

<supportedRuntime version="v2.0.40426" safemode="true"/>
<requiredRuntime version="v2.0.40426" safemode="true"/>

As far as VS.NET is concerned, I'm not even going to get into that yet; there are so many cool feature enhancements, I couldn't even begin to cover them in a short article like this. You'll find IDE productivity enhancements, the IDE loads faster, there's more support for database connectivity (such as setting the connection properties for a DataGrid (or whatever new name they've given it), and a lot more. (Have you ever noticed, whenever the guys at Microsoft are proud of their work, they give it a new name just to confuse the hell out of you?).

As with any early iteration of Alpha software, there are many areas that are either not fully implemented, were working in the first release and are not working now, or are simply "not ready" yet. However, considering the complexity of the product and how very nicely Visual Studio.NET 2003 has gained acceptance in the developer community after being bashed so badly by the various detractors (you know who you are, ya Dorks!) I'd say that this one is a good bet for a very fine product say, about a year from now. If you don't have immediate access to this or are not enthusiastic about downloading a 2.9GB image file, I've posted the Readme.htm Contents page here.

I'm looking forward to my new ASP.NET 2.0 applications, C# Generics and other cool new features, and a whole bunch more. And, my regular development apps all work just fine in the previous version. Remember, just because I said it's cool doesn't necessarily guarantee it will be cool on YOUR machine and OS. Let's remember, this is ALPHA software -- to translate to the vernacular, ALPHA is something that's not finished, but you want some people to be able to play with it and see that whatever functionality you have completed actually works. BETA is when it is basically feature - complete, and you are distributing it to software testers so you can get their feedback to finalize your work for the eventual PRODUCTION release. Folks, this IS Alpha software, so be kind.





Peter Bromberg is a C# MVP, MCP, and .NET consultant who has worked in the banking and financial industry for 20 years. He has architected and developed web - based corporate distributed application solutions since 1995, and focuses exclusively on the .NET Platform.