Visual Studio Express with SP1 FAQ

    General discussion

  • I wanted to post a quick FAQ to answer some of the questions surfacing around upgrading Express to SP1.  This is not an "official" FAQ but just something I put together to help those who are having issues installing Express SP1.


    Some definitions:

    SKU: a term to describe a single Express product (ex. Visual C# Express)

    RTM: The first version (i.e. non SP1) of Visual Studio Express 2008 that was released back in November 2007.


    Q: Is Express SP1 a patch?

    A: No, it's a major upgrade.  What this means is that the Express SP1 installers uninstall and then reinstall the Express SKU.  There is a minor technicality to this in that .NET 3.5 is patched to SP1 when installing Express SP1, but this should be transparent to you.


    Q: Why would you want it to uninstall and reinstall?  Doesn't this take longer?

    A: There are number of reasons that led to us choosing this behavior, but our primary reason was that we didn't want new customers having to go through a multiple installer process just to get the latest version of Visual Studio.  If you are a new user, or are just reinstalling on a clean machine, you only need to download and run the SP1 installer and you automatically have the latest version of the product -- no need to go through Windows Update to get the patch.  On an interesting side note, it actually takes longer to patch the product than it does to uninstall and then reinstall, so Express SP1 is actually faster than installing a patch. 


    Q: Does anything get removed when I upgrade to SP1 Express as a result of the uninstall?

    A: No, with one exception for Visual Web Developer users.  Everything should remain as is from RTM when you upgrade to SP1.  However, new menu items were added to Visual Web Developer Express, requiring a new settings file.  On install, the new settings file overwrites the RTM settings file, resetting all settings to the SP1 default.  You will then have to reconfigure your IDE settings after upgrading to SP1.  Please see the readme for more information about this issue and how to backup your settings before upgrading.


    Q: Isn't the regular Visual Studio SP1 a patch?

    A: Yes.  The higher end Visual Studio SKUs use a patch mechanism for SP1.  Visual Studio Professional installation takes much longer than Express, and patching in this case can be much quicker.  Also, due to some hotfixes released for Visual Studio, a major upgrade is not possible without breaking those hotfixes, hence the decision to use a patch. 


    Q: I have Visual Studio Professional and Express installed on the same machine and I can't upgrade to Express SP1.  Why not?

    A: If you have both a paid version of Visual Studio and Visual Studio Express installed on the same machine, you must install the paid Visual Studio SP1 prior to upgrading Express to SP1.  If you attempt to install Express SP1 first, you will get a blocking error asking you to upgrade the paid Visual Studio SP1. 


    Q: Do I need to install SP1 for each Express product that is on my computer?

    A: Yes.  You must download and install the appropriate SP1 for each Express product that needs to be upgraded.  Also, once you upgrade one Express SKU to SP1, you must upgrade all Express SKUs to SP1 to retain functionality.


    Q: Why does Help->About update the version for all Express SKUs even when I've only upgraded one of them to SP1?

    A: If you have multiple Express SKUs on your computer and only upgrade one of them, the version listed under Help->About is updated for all Express products.  This is a bug that we are tracking for Dev10 Express.  You will still need to download and install SP1 for each Express product on your computer.  In order to verify the actual version that is installed, you can open up Add/Remove Programs and see which Express SKUs have the suffix "with SP1" appended to their entry.


    Q: Do I need to uninstall any Express SP1 Betas before installing?

    A: You shouldn't have to explicitly uninstall the Beta versions of the Express SKUs when installing -- they should be upgraded automatically.  On a few occasions there might be issues and you might want to consult the uninstall instructions for a manual removal.


    Q: Do I need to reinstall Express add-ins such as XNA Game Studios or Iron Python?

    A: If you have installed some of the available Express add-ins, you will most likely have to reinstall them after upgrading to SP1.  I say "most likely" because on my tests XNA (the CTP version) continued to work after upgrading to SP1 but Iron Python did not and required a reinstall.


    Q: I just upgraded Visual Web Developer Express and all my settings were reset.  What happened?

    A: As mentioned above, new menu items were added to Visual Web Developer Express, requiring a new settings file.  On install, the new settings file overwrites the RTM settings file, resetting all settings to the SP1 default.  You will then have to reconfigure your IDE settings after upgrading to SP1.  Please see the readme for more information about this issue and how to backup your settings before upgrading.


    Q: Is SQL Server 2005 Express uninstalled when I install Express with SP1?

    A: No.  The Express SP1 installers have no impact on SQL Server 2005 Express.


    Q: Do I need to upgrade to SQL Server 2008 Express if I already have SQL Server 2005 Express installed?

    A: No.  Express SP1 should work just fine with SQL Server 2005 Express.


    Q: Can SQL Server 2005 Express run side-by-side with SQL Server 2008 Express?

    A: Technically yes, but it is not recommended. When you install SQL Server 2008 Express, the instance name .\SQLEXPRESS becomes associated with SQL Server 2008 Express.  Therefore, when running Visual Studio, everything should work just as it did with SQL Server 2005 Express.  You can configure them to work side-by-side by using different instance names but that is outside of the scope of this FAQ.


    Q: If I upgrade from SQL Server 2005 Express to SQL Server 2008 Express, will my projects automatically be upgraded?

    A: Yes.  The project is automatically converted to work in SQL Server 2008 Express.


    Q: Is SQL Server Management Studio available for SQL Server 2008 Express?

    A: Not yet, but it will be available shortly.


    Q: I keep running into installation issues with SQL Server 2008 Express.  Can you help?

    A: There are a few issues that you might encounter when installing SQL Server 2008 Express through the Express SP1 installers.  The readme talks about most of these issues but here are the most common ones from my perspective:

    • User selects Restart Later and setup does not resume after restart:  If you select Restart Later prior to installing SQL Server 2008 Express, the installer will not launch after reboot and SQL Express will not be installed.  In order to fix this:
      1. Restart your computer
      2. Rerun setup which should launch in maintenance mode
      3. Select "Add Optional Components
      4. Add SQL Server 2008 Express and install
    • Pending Reboot:  Sometimes a pending reboot can cause SQL Server 2008 Express to fail.  In order to fix this:
      1. Restart your computer
      2. Rerun setup which should launch in maintenance mode
      3. Select "Add Optional Components"
      4. Add SQL Server 2008 Express and install

    • The SQLEXPRESS service is running:  If you have installed a prerelease version of SQL Server 2008 Express, you must manually stop the service before installing Express SP1 or SQL Server 2008 Express will fail to install.  To stop the service:
      1. Go to Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Services and stop the "SQL Server (SQLEXPRESS)" service
      2. Set the Startup Type of the service to "Manual" (This is needed because the reboot during 4.5 installer installation would cause the SQL Express service to start up again after reboot)
      3. Reboot the machine, go back to the Services panel and verify "SQL Server (SQLEXPRESS)" service is not started.

    • Failure due to upgrade path (installing SQL Server 2008 Express on a machine with SQL Server 2005 Express with Advanced Services)
      • You can either uninstall SQL Server 2005 Express with Advanced services or wait for SQL Server 2008 Express with Advanced Services to be released and then upgrade it with the standalone installer.

    • MSI 4.5 fails to install:  If there is a pending reboot, MSI 4.5 can fail to install.  Since SQL Server 2008 Express is dependent on MSI 4.5, the install will fail.  In order to fix this:
      1. Restart your computer
      2. Rerun setup which should launch in maintenance mode
      3. Select "Add Optional Components"
      4. Add SQL Server 2008 Express and install

    I will try and add more to this FAQ if you have any other interesting questions.




    Wednesday, August 13, 2008 8:32 PM

All replies

  • This is an extemely helpful post especially for a newbie like me. But I wasn't able to find it easily, eg by selecting Forums on the VS Express Home pages.

    Monday, August 18, 2008 12:11 PM
  • This does NOT solve my problem witch is:

    Saturday, November 22, 2008 11:04 PM
  • This is a great help. thank you

    I have a question again.

    Can I use SQL Server 2005 with the Express Edition of VB.NET?

    OR Do I need to download SQL Server Express Edition

    thank you

    Sunday, December 28, 2008 4:07 AM
  •  Thanks for the excellent information presented on Visual Express with SP1.

    However I'm not sure about the patching of the Net 3.5 to SP1, I'm not sure what this means.

    I also wish to install Visual Studio Professional (paid version).  This requires the Net framework, so do I need to install a version of Net compatible with VS Pro, or will the Net version downloaded with the express edition work with the Pro version?

    Should I install the Pro version before the Express edition?


    Thursday, January 15, 2009 2:08 PM
  • .NET 3.5 SP1 simply means that during the instlal, .NET 3.5 will be patched with updated bug fixes and functionality.  This is the latest recommended version of the .NET framework. 
    VS Pro uses exactly the same framework as Express so you don't need to install the framework again.  The order of install doesn't matter, but it's probably better to install Pro last just to make sure all file associations are mapped correctly.

    Remember to mark the best replies as answers!
    Wednesday, February 11, 2009 11:18 PM
  • Mr H.

    What is Visual Studio?  I bought VC++ 6.0 Pro several years ago and tried to learn C but the "C in 21 days" examples did not run without errors and I gave up.  But in the box is this MSDN Library disk and and Visual Studio 6.0 Plus pack and I got the Idea that VS is a program that is installed in and of itself.  Then last year I found this terrific group of compilers suffixed "Express".  Great Unlimited resources to boot.  I pulled out an old 1981 HP3000 Basic program I wrote which ran without error.  As I still had the printout - a lot of trees died as a result in those days.  At least no cards.

    This was Apr 2008 and I finally got the program to "Publish" and the ".exe" to run without error.  Lets just say the computer crashed and I reinstalled XP Pro.  I think I had VB E 2008 installed but could I have had also Visual Studio E. 2005 installed.  See I have been thinking that VS is a separate program that you install and it resides as a program under "All Programs".  But now after recently trying to do that approx 750mb download and that burn the disk and that iso thing which never worked (click setup.htp [i think] which only gave me a txt file in notepad) I am beginning to think that this Visual Studio is just a Ghost that loads with any of the Express suite.

    If you have not figured out yet I am confused.

    That Old Basic program that ran last Apr 08 gave me "warnings" 14 times for each "For X =" where last year it did not.  Is there some combination of VBE05/VSE05/VBE08/VSE08 that would cause the below if in fact this VS is a separate program.  I just do not get it.

    Warning 2 The type for variable 'X' will not be inferred because it is bound to a field in an enclosing scope. Either change the name of 'X', of use the fully qualified name (for example, 'Me.X' or 'MyBase.X'). C:\Documents and Settings\Dans Trading\Local Settings\Application Data\Temporary Projects\Dans TS2_09\Module1.vb 289 13 Dans TS2_09
    Sunday, February 22, 2009 1:19 AM
  • Ok Mr. H  I think I understand this VSE thing.

    Ok I have installed VBE 2005 and pasted my code. Debugged and ran without error.

    What does this mean to me? It means that the problem was caused by debugging 05 code with an 08 IDE.

    I guess there is some sort of Wizard to convert 05 to 08 but at least I will have an idea where they are coming from if I have problems.

    An integrated development environment (IDE)
    An IDE normally consists of a:

    Source code editor

    Compiler and/or interpreter

    Build automation tools



    Which sounds a lot like Visual xxx Express Edition 200x to me.

    ****************** What is Visual Studio Express 200x? **********************

    Wikipedia (not here to rate Wik) gave me my best understanding by going to "Define:Visual Studio" and not from "Define:Visual Studio Express".

    My Definition of Visual Studio Express Edition is that:

    It ain't no damn program that you install on your computer. And UNLIKE as Wik says under "M VS Exp" it ain't no damn SET of anything. You do not need a "SET".   All you need to do is install any ONE of the "pretty boxes" and you have Visual Studio Express. Not only do you have VSE but you have also ".NET Framework" divulged under "Help" "About ...." on the tool bar of any one of the "set" (pretty box) up and running.  

    Edited - the .NET may appear because I have installed 2,3, and 3.5 which appears under "Start" - "Control Panel"  - "Add and Remove Programs".  References to Visual Studio, herein, are prefixed with "for", i.e., "... for V. S. 2008 ...." but interestingly I do not see any reference to VSE 2005 even though I have installed VBE 2005. 

    Oh the days I spent trying to ISO, Burn, and download Visual Studio Express 2008 found at the bottom of the page http://www.microsoft.com/express/download/ . I was looking for a program that did not exist as a unity but was included with each and every one of those "pretty" boxes.

    Well I did not get an answer searching Microsoft.

    I typed "what is visual studio" in the http://www.microsoft.com/express/2005/download/default.aspx# block titled "Search Microsoft.com for:" and came up the the gobble gook at the links below;



    Sunday, February 22, 2009 3:48 PM
  • What I want to know is will the Express expire in 30 days or what? I'm a slow learner and I hate to get in the middle of doing something and the program quits working...
    Saturday, February 28, 2009 4:09 AM
  • David just do a free registration with MS and it just keeps running.   And David you and me both.
    Tuesday, March 03, 2009 6:32 PM
  • For those of us who installed VB2008 Express from a cd (from an M$ book), I'd like to see a simple statement here to the effect that if you don't see SERVICE PACK 1 listed on your HELP|ABOUT screen then you must uninstall & reinstall VB2008 Express from the M$ website - correct?

    Saturday, May 02, 2009 5:37 PM
  • I note that in relation to purchase of Visual Studio 2008 -
     "To qualify for upgrade pricing, you must be a licensed user of an earlier version of Microsoft Visual Studio or any other developer tool (including free developer tools, such as Visual Studio Express Editions or Eclipse).
    Does this mean that VB Express 2008 permits upgrade to VS 2008 at the upgrade price?
    Tuesday, June 02, 2009 12:10 AM
  • My question is about VS2008,
    Do I can use this program VS2008 for developer a website without buy the license?, only one website for me. somebody can help me with this doubt from me?


    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 4:56 AM