Visual Studio.NET 2005 Install / Uninstall Tips and Tricks
by Peter A. Bromberg, Ph.D.

Peter Bromberg

The excitement is building as what may be the last CTP (Community Technology Preview) dropped on August 28, 2005, is now available. The .NET Framework version number on this is fixed at 2.0.50727, the same as it will be in the final RTM (Release to Manufacturing) version.

What remains is mostly last minute tweaks, most of the development process is finished. That means that this CTP is about as close as you'll ever get to the real thing, so if you want to "get a leg up" on where things are going, this is the one to install.

One of the biggest issues for developers making a decision about installing a CTP is twofold; first, if I put this on my development machine, is it going to break any of my "day job" critical stuff that I have to be able to have working for .NET Framework 1.1 -- and second, if I install a CTP, will I be able to get rid of it so the final product will install correctly?

In the first case, I've been messing with CTP's for a long time and I haven't had any issue, although, I can say that I like to live dangerously, and your mileage may vary. All my .NET 1.1 stuff has always worked fine, and so has Visual Studio.NET 2003.

In the second case, Microsoft Betas and CTP's have been notorious for not observing the "No Child Left Behind" Act, and habitually leave your machine strewn with files and registry entries after an uninstall. That's an annoyance, but it becomes a real problem when they interfere with the installation of a later beta, CTP or the RTM version of the same product!

Of course, you can always install it in a Virtual Machine, completely isolated from your regular box. Personally, I have tried to avoid this as it just doesn't "feel the same". And of course, with PC prices so low, you can always just put it on a spare box and have no issues at all.

The cardinal rule for all of this is "RTFM". Unfortunately, parts of the "FM" that you need aren't always included with the "RT" and you have to hunt them down. Fortunately, the documentation and help has become a lot better. A case in point is the Product Feedback Center where you can look up your issue and often find a solution, or if it's something totally new, you can submit it and get feedback notifications from Microsoft staff, who happen to be very interested in your feedback.

Here is a list of the major points involved in ensuring that you've gotten the old guy uninstalled, and will have a nice experience installing the new guy (or is that Old Girl? - who knows, these days it doesn't matter what you say -- somebody will complain, having completely missed the context anyway):

Uninstalling VS.NET 2005 previous versions:

Go to Control Panel and launch Add/Remove Programs, and remove the following:

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 (Professional/Standard/Enterprise Architect/Team Suite etc. or other related IDE installs
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Tools Express Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Native Client
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 64bit Prerequisites Beta
  • MSDN Product Documentation
  • Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for Office System 2005 Runtime Beta
  • Microsoft Device Emulator 1.0 Beta
  • Microsoft .NET Compact Framework 2.0 Beta
  • Microsoft SQL Mobile 2005 Development Tools
  • Microsoft Visual J# Redistributable Package 2.0 Beta (If you see an error removing J# Redistributable Package from Add/Remove Programs, please run "msiexec /x {9046F10C-F5E7-4871-BED9-8288F19C70DF}" from a command line window)
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Beta (If you see an error removing .NET Framework 2.0 from Add/Remove Programs, please run "msiexec /x {71F8EFBF-09AF-418D-91F1-52707CDFA274}" from a command line window)

DO NOT REMOVE the .NET Framework 2.0 Beta before any of the others, or I can virtually GUARANTEE that you will be a VERY UNHAPPY PERSON!

One final suggestion: You REALLY want to consider temporarily turning off any extra services such as antivirus, antispyware, etc. in the Services Control Panel applet, and also temporarily kill anything that normally runs on Windows Startup such as MSN Messenger, Yahoo Pops, or whatever other cool tools you may have installed. Once VS.NET is fully installed, you will reboot and they'll all come back normally anyway. You just don't want them running while you're doing your install.

And, as always smart developers get in the habit of making at least weekly Registry Backups. My favorite utility for this is ERUNT, by Lars Hederer. If you have a 64-bit machine, you can use NTBackup. The vast majority of sick machines got that way because of messed up or missing Registry entries. Make a Registry backup BEFORE you install new software. Restoring a recent Registry Backup is a fast and painless way to get back to "normal". But it will only work if YOU get in the habit of making frequent registry backups. A "word to the wise"...

At this point, you should - and I repeat should - be able to perform a clean install of a subsequent BETA or CTP of Visual Studio.NET 2005.

What to do if you cannot install the newer version:

If you have issues with a new installation after following the steps outlined above, it's usually because of the orphaned registry entries and / or files I mentioned above. Fortunately, Aaron Stebner, product guru extraordinaire, has a special uninstall tool you can download here that will really clean up. And, there is additional documentation here.

With this ammunition in hand, you should be able to get to first base and start enjoying the productivity and programming enhancements of Visual Studio.NET 2005. If you find or have additional issues or information, feel free to post it at the little discussion board at the bottom of this page.

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.