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Visual Studio Shell (Integrated Mode) Setup Guide

Requirements for deploying your VSPackage in the Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Shell (integrated mode) help developers to create functioning installation packages for customers. For more information about how to create and deploy VSPackages, see Visual Studio Integration SDK.

A deployment in the integrated Shell requires that you write a Microsoft Installer (MSI) package for your application. Besides installing the required components, your installer lets you show your own installation user interface (UI), gather user options, present your end-user license agreement (EULA), and perform other installation tasks.

A VSPackage that is deployed in the integrated Shell must also meet Microsoft serviceability requirements. These requirements enable the efficient redistribution of Microsoft service and security updates that you can post for download. For more information, see Visual Studio Serviceability Guidelines.

Your installation program must install the following redistributable components:

  • the integrated Shell self-extracting executable. This component will automatically install all the pre-requisites for the Visual Studio 2008 Shell, including the .NET Framework 3.5.

    Includes bits for Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Shell (integrated mode) plus supported features.

    For important information about redistributing the .NET Framework, see .NET Framework Deployment Basics.


    If you are shipping an add-in with your deployment, the add-in will not load. By default the integrated Shell does not install MSXML6. Instead, MSXML6 is an option. To resolve this issue, make sure that the installer that you create installs MSXML6 with your deployment.

Following is a checklist of VSPackage installer requirements.


Following are prerequisites for an installer for a VSPackage setup:

  • Microsoft Installer (MSI) version 3.1 or later versions

  • .NET Framework 2.0 (include language packs on localized systems and use the 64-bit framework if deploying under Windows-on-Windows [WoW])

  • MSXML version 6.0 or later versions

  • MDAC 2.8 (Windows 2000, Service Pack 4 only)

  • The following operating systems support the Visual Studio SDK:

    • Windows XP, Service Pack 2 (SP2) or later versions

    • Windows Server 2003, Service Pack 1 (SP1) or later versions

    • Windows Vista

Installer Best Practices

Developers who create setups must follow best practices for Microsoft installations. Best practice for computers that run Windows XP include the following three criteria:

  • Use the Local Administrator account.

    By using the Local Administrator account you prevent problems with both permissions and user rights. The Local Administrator account is the maintenance account. Use this account when you install and remove programs.

  • Stop all required services and programs before you install your package.

    Many programs, especially antivirus and other monitoring programs, can interrupt the installation process. Therefore, stop them before you start the installation.

  • Clear the System\Temp folder before you install your package.

    The installation wizards use the System\Temp folder. If an installation leaves corrupted files or folders in the Temp folder, the installation reapplies the corrupted versions instead of returning to the installation source for fresh copies.


In most cases, your default installation should provide a single, coherent set of wizard steps to handle licensing agreements and installation preferences. To prevent the Visual Studio Shell and the components it calls from launching their own setup UI, call the Visual Studio Shell installer with the /q switch. When it completes, it will send a single message to your installer to indicate whether a reboot is needed, and will set the user's machine to automatically resume installation after reboot. If you do not use the /q switch, the user will see the UI for every component the Visual Studio Shell installer calls, and in the event of a reboot, will have to manually restart the installer.

For more information, see Windows Installer Basics and How to troubleshoot Visual Studio .NET installation.

You can take advantage of the following additional options in your deployment.

Unattended Install of Chained Components

All components have an unattended install option. Only the .NET Framework installation will potentially display installation UI. For more information about how to use unattended installation options for the .NET Framework installation, see Setup.exe Bootstrapper Sample Operations.

Setup.exe uses the following command to start an unattended installation of the .NET Framework (Dotnetfx.exe):

dotnetfx.exe /q:a /c:"install /l /q"

MDAC Components

MDAC components are optionally provided with the integrated Shell redistributable for partners who want to include them in their setup. When you install MDAC, setup programs should provide logic to detect whether MDAC is already installed.


The integrated Shell is localized for all languages for which Visual Studio is localized, as are IDE elements.