How to run tests on a machine without Visual Studio/Team Build/Test agent etc?

I have heard a lot of customers ask about how to make the tests run on a machine without visual studio components or whether you have xcopy-able install etc.

The official answer to all these questions is that you should have a visual studio or team build or test agent installed on the box, but unofficially there is a way by which you can make “pure” unit test work. Here are the steps you can perform to achieve this: -

  • Copy TestWindow folder *%Visual Studio Installation Dir%\Common7\IDE\CommonExtensions\Microsoft\TestWindow) from a machine which has visual studio to any folder on the target machine (let’s call that folder c:\TestWindow).


  • Copy a few binaries from the GAC of visual studio machine to C:\TestWindow folder of the target machine. These binaries are
    • Microsoft.VisualStudio.QualityTools.UnitTestFramework.dll   (You have to copy version as will find 2 assemblies there. )
    • Microsoft.VisualStudio.QualityTools.Tips.UnitTest.ObjectModel.dll.
    • Microsoft.VisualStudio.QualityTools.Common.dll
    • Microsoft.VisualStudio.QualityTools.Resource.dll


  • This makes the framework ready, now when you copy the test binaries, ensure that the unit test framework assembly (Microsoft.VisualStudio.QualityTools.UnitTestFramework.dll) is also copied & it is present in the same directory as the test assembly.


  • Now try running the tests using vstest.console and it should work.


Notes: –

  • This is not supported scenario and there is a good probability that in subsequent release, this may stop working.
  • This approach can be used only to run pure unit tests and will not work if you have test settings, coded ui test, host adapter tests etc.

I personally feel that even with all the caveats, still this is useful, hence this post. Enjoy !!