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
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.
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
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
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
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.