How To Activate the .NET Framework 3.5 on Windows 8 Without Internet Access

Summary:   Milad Aslaner , a Microsoft Premier Field Engineer (PFE) based in Germany, walks us through how you can activate the .NET Framework 3.5 on Windows 8 when you don’t have access to the Internet. Enjoy!

Microsoft Windows LogoI had to install SQL Server 2012 on my lab computer today. For those of you who follow my blog posts, you might be a little bit surprised why a Desktop PFE is starting talking around SQL, but don’t worry,  this article is still about the Windows Desktop.

One of the prerequisites for a complete SQL Server 2012 installation is that the operating system has the .NET Framework 3.5 installed.  As you might know, Windows 8 has the .NET Framework 4.5 built-in and you can optionally activate .NET Framework 3.5 using the Windows Features panel (see the image below), but the problem is that once you activate the .NET Framework 3.5 the computer will want to access to Microsoft servers on the Internet to get the binaries.

Windows Features - Adding the .NET Framework 3.5

But what do you do if you have no Internet connection? The solution emerges with the Windows 8 ISO and DISM. Have a look below for a quick step-by-step guide on how to install and activate the .NET Framework 3.5 without Internet access:

  1. Create a folder on your system drive called NET35 (example: C:\NET35)
  2. Mount your Windows 8 ISO file or DVD
  3. Copy the folder sources\sxs\ from the Windows 8 ISO into the newly created NET35 folder. I recommend using XCOPY for it, for example: 
    xcopy G:\sources\sxs\*.* C:\NET35 /s
    [Ed: Note that this copies the contents of the SXS folder into C:\NET35, but not the folder itself]
  4. Once you copy all the files, you can now utilize DISM to enable the .NET Framework 3.5 feature by entering the following command in an elevated command prompt (Start, Type "CMD", press Ctrl+Shift+Enter or right-click the Command Prompt item and choose Run as Administrator): 
     DISM.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFX3 /All /Source:c:\net35 /LimitAccess
    [Ed: Note the above is one line but may wrap in this blog depending on formatting - if in doubt, it should be typed as in the screenshot below.]

If everything runs smoothly you should now have the .NET Framework 3.5 installed without the computer needing access to the Internet.


Written by Milad Aslaner; Posted by Frank Battiston, MSPFE Editor. Then mildly fiddled with by Tristan.