Visual Studio / SQL Server install order on Windows 7

Quite a while ago I blogged about the Visual Studio / SQL Server install order on Windows Vista. I’m about to go through a similar exercise on Windows 7 and given the issues I had then I thought that it would be only right to document the procedure in case any problems arose.

Last time, it would seem, the best solution was to install things in the order in which Microsoft released them with the notable exception of the operating system. So this time, that is the strategy that I’m going to take. Windows 7 is already installed on my laptop. Then I’m going to install Visual Studio 2008, then SQL Server 2008, then any patches for either and we’ll see how we get on.

I’m also going to ensure that I do NOT install SQL Server Express Edition on Visual Studio 2008 as I’ve had problems with that before. Essentially, the problem last time was that the SQL Server installer mistook Visual Studio’s SQL Server Express installation has having installed certain things. The SQL Server installation therefore didn’t want to repeat what it didn’t need to so it refused to install the client tools.

Install Order

  • Visual Studio 2008, excluding SQL Server 2005 Express Edition

Visual Studio 2008 Installer Removing SQL Express

  • MSDN Library (This is optional – I installed it because I’m occasionally developing on the road with no or limited connectivity)
  • Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 (this is required in order to install SQL Server 2008 – the installation will fail otherwise)
  • SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition


  • Install SQL Server 2008 SP1

That’s it – Job done. And it only took me two attempts to get it right this time. My stumbling block here was the order in which I applied the service packs.


  1. Good job.I’ve been through the same thing as you on Vista.On Win7 Ultimate I took care of SQL Server 2008 Dev first then VS2008 and the updates for it and Silverlight 3.As an Evangelist I also have to install the SQL Express versions but the thing that really surprised me about the MSDN versions of VS2008 is they are still shipping with SQL 2005 Express rather than SQL 2008 Express, which is world’s improved.For those who wonder, yes you can safely install SQL Server 2008 Express on the same dev box as SQL Server 2008 Dev. Your one MS IDE will manage both, works great. Salute, Mark

  2. @Mark I realise you can run SQL Server Express and the full edition side-by-side. However, I’ve had issues with the version of SQL Server Express included in the Visual Studio install. I should have been more explicit about that aspect.As for why VS2008 is shipping with SQL Server Express 2005 it is because that’s what was available when VS2008 RTM’ed SQL Server 2008 didn’t come out until after VS 2008. I imagine it would be quite costly to go back and RTM it all over again what with all the re-testing and so on that would be required.

  3. I have a fresh Windows 7 with VS2008 installed first. However, I simply followed the “default” installation so SQL2005 Express was installed. Then I tried to install SQL Server 2008 Developer but it always gives me the “Enterprise Evaluation” or “Express” or “Express with Advanced” licensing options. I even used SQL Server 2008 Enterprise or Standard ISO images but it always gives me the same choices. I have SQL2005 Express unintalled but it does not change anything. I also created a slipstreamed SQL Server 2008 with SP1 and used that and nothing has changed. May I know if you have any idea how to fix this? I ceratinly hope that I don’t have to uninstall VS2008 or even wipe out the whole hard drive and start from scratch again. Sure I will if I don’t have any other option. Just a quick note, I have not activated Windows 7 nor any of the Office 2007 apps yet. Thanks.

  4. Nazim B says:

    Hi Colin, great blog i must say.Just a quick question, Woud this procedure work with SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition in place of 2008 developer edition ? i’m only asking since i dont have sql 2008 server, but i do have 2005 dev.thnaks.Nazim

  5. Colin Mackay says:

    @Nazim: It should be a similar procedure. You may also want to refer to my older blog post on installing SQL Server 2005 on Vista as it might also contain some useful information that would help you. Windows 7 is really just Vista with most of the issues ironed out.

  6. Nazim B says:

    Hi again colin, thanks for the fast reply.Thank you for the other article too. it really helped me :)Nazim(you may delete this message from your site, i just wanted to say thank you)

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