.NET Framework 3.0 and 3.5 setup can fail on Windows XP and Server 2003 if the Print Spooler is not started

I just noticed this post on Aaron Ruckman's blog and wanted to link to it here to help raise visibility.

Description of this issue

There is an issue in the XPS component that is a prerequisite for the .NET Framework 3.0, 3.0 SP1 and 3.5 that can cause each of these versions of the .NET Framework to fail to install on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.  The XPS component can fail to install correctly if the Print Spooler service is not running on the system, and that in turn will cause the .NET Framework 3.0 or 3.5 setup to fail.  In most cases of this error that we've seen so far, an Visual C++ runtime error dialog appears during .NET Framework 3.0, 3.0 SP1 or 3.5 setup with the following text on it:

The application has requested the Runtime to terminate it in an unusual way.

This error usually occurs while the PrintFilterPipelineSvc.exe process is being run during the installation of the XPS component that is a prerequisite for the .NET Framework 3.0, 3.0 SP1 and 3.5 on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 operating systems.  We have not yet heard of a case of this particular error affecting Windows Vista or later operating systems because the necessary XPS components are already present as a part of the OS, and therefore .NET Framework setup does not need to run PrintFilterPipelineSvc.exe.

How to work around this issue

If you are running into this issue on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, you can resolve it by doing the following:

  1. Click on the Start menu, choose Run, type services.msc and click OK
  2. In the Services snap-in, locate the service named Print Spooler, right-click on it and choose Start

Note - if the Print Spooler service is already started and you are still seeing failures during .NET Framework 3.0 or 3.5 setup, then you are not running into this exact issue and your .NET Framework setup failure is being caused by some other problem.  In that case, I suggest consulting the .NET Framework setup troubleshooting guide for links to other possible installation issues and workarounds, links to log file locations, links to readme files, etc.

<update date="3/26/2008"> Added more details about the error message to hopefully make it easier to find this post when performing Web searches. </update>