How to install VS 2005 and MSDN for VS 2005 on XP without SP2

Microsoft has an internal program for testing hotfixes that apply to Windows XP SP1 that asks some employees to not install XP SP2. Some of the people in this program have wanted to install VS 2005 and when they tried, they ran into the blocks in VS setup that require XP SP2 to be installed. VS 2005 setup does not have any technical requirements on XP SP2, but the block is in place to encourage everyone to upgrade to SP2, and also to reduce the test matrix. If you are running into this block and really need to install VS 2005 on a system that is running Windows XP without SP2, you can use the following steps. Please note that these steps are not officially supported and I would recommend installing XP SP2 before installing VS 2005 if at all possible:

  1. Navigate to the setup subfolder on the VS 2005 DVD and run VS 2005 as follows to skip all prerequisite checks - setup.exe /NO_BSLN_CHECK

Important note - if you use the above option, none of the prerequisites for Visual Studio 2005 will be installed. You need to make sure to manually pre-install Windows Installer 3.1, the .NET Framework 2.0 and the MSXML 6.0 Parser using the setup packages located in the wcu subfolder on the VS 2005 DVD. Failure to do so will result in errors during the VS installation process.


  1. Launch regedit.exe
  2. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Windows
  3. Change the CSDVersion value to be 512 or higher (0x0000200 in hexadecimal)
  4. Close regedit.exe and install Visual Studio 2005
  5. Rerun regedit.exe and change the CSDVersion value back to what it was originally

Once VS 2005 is installed, you will run into a separate block while trying to install MSDN. To workaround this, you can use the same registry-based workaround listed above, or do the following:

  1. Install Orca if you haven't already (you can get a copy here without downloading the whole Windows Installer PSDK)
  2. Copy the contents of the VS 2005 DVD to your computer
  3. Right-click on the file msdn.msi and choose Edit with Orca
  4. Go to Launch condition table and remove the row with the following data in the condition column: "(VersionNT>501) OR (VersionNT=500 AND ServicePackLevel>3) OR (VersionNT=501 AND ServicePackLevel>1) The minimum operating system requirement is Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP SP2, or Windows Server 2003"
  5. Save and close msdn.msi
  6. Install MSDN from the local copy

Note: after changing the CSDVersion registry key or modifying msdn.msi using Orca, you will need to use the following command line to install MSDN: msiexec /i msdn.msi SETUP_EXE=yes

<update date="8/26/2005"> I didn't specify clearly enough when I posted this last night that these steps are not "officially" supported, I must have been a little tired and left off the disclaimer I normally write when I post tips like this. I've added it above.

<update date="11/8/2005"> After receiving email from Fabrice based on the comments posted here, I realized that there is an additional step needed to install MSDN after using the workarounds listed above. I've updated the steps accordingly </update>

<update date="4/5/2006"> Added a caveat to option 1 above that you must manually install prerequisites in order to use this option </update>