How to directly download Visual Studio Express packages

I’ve seen numerous issues and comments related to using the customized download manager to control downloads of the Visual Studio Express SKUs and their prerequisites and optional addins such as SQL and MSDN.  Here are a couple of options that you can use to directly download the packages and then run from your local machine to install the beta bits:

  1. Use the links provided for the individual packages at to save each package to your local machine
  2. Run the download manager package from the web download site, and let it extract to your %temp% directory.  While it is still running, go to %temp% and find a folder named SIT*.TMP (where * is a randomly generated alphanumeric sequence), and open the file baseline.dat in notepad or another text editor.  Then for each package that you need to download, find the bracketed section for the “gencomp“ and then find the URL item.  If you open a browser window and type and then add in the value of the URL item, it will take you to the package download directly

If you want, you can also assemble the equivalent of a CD layout on your local hard drive.  To do this, use these steps:

  1. Create a folder on your local machine to store the CD layout (for example – expressbeta)
  2. Create a subfolder named WCU
  3. Under WCU create folders named dotnetframework, MSDNExpress, SSE, and jsharpredistcore (if you are installing a SKU that requires the J# redist package)
  4. Download the initial express package from the site and run it
  5. While the package is still running, go to %temp% and copy the contents of SIT*.TMP to the root of the expressbeta folder you created in step 1 above
  6. Locate and download the .NET Framework and place it in the dotnetframework folder
  7. Locate and download the J# redist and place it in the jsharpredistcore folder
  8. Locate the main express SKU and place it in the expressbeta folder.  Note that this package will be named the same as the initial 2 meg download that you get to by clicking the link on the download site (vcssetup.exe for C# express for example) – this is kind of a tricky/misleading naming scheme that will hopefully be updated for the next release
  9. Locate and download MSDN Express if you want to install it and place it in the MSDNExpress folder
  10. Locate and download SQL Express if you want to install it and place it in the SSE folder
  11. After doing all of this, cancel out of the setpu that you launched in step 4 above and then run setup.exe from the expressbeta folder you created

If anyone tries this and hits any problems please email me or drop me a comment and I’ll help wherever I can.  Thanks!

<update date=”11/16/2005″> Updated the URL to be instead of </update>


Comments (12)

  1. Me says:

    Get ‘Buffer Overrun detected’ when trying to install Visual C++.

    – .net framework 2.0 beta installed OK

    – MSDN, SQL not selected (and not in expressbeta)

  2. Harsh says:


    Didnt worked for me…..

    cant get the URL part working…..

    Please help!!

  3. Some One says:

    replace with

  4. astebner says:

    Hi Harsh – the comment from Some One is correct. I made a typo when I originally wrote this post. It should be (where you can find the ##### in baseline.dat in the [gencomp##] section.

    Sorry for the confusion here.

  5. Harsh says:

    Thanks "Some One" and "astebner"…

  6. Some One says:

    No prob. Whilst on the subject of direct downloads, I’m trying to compile Quake2.NET using this new setup but I need to install the DirectX SDK (for ddraw.h and dsound.h) but looking at the downloads page you need to install MS Genuine Windows.

    Is there a way round this as although I have an original copy of XP, I don’t know what would happen if I updated the entire system (new mobo, processor etc) as I am thinking of doing it at some stage and don’t know what the implications would be as it apparently records hardware info. If theres a minimal SDK (lib,bin,include) available somewhere that would do.

  7. Hey all, it looks like the Visual Studio setup team has heard all of the feedback because they have posted…

  8. SHOBHIT says:

    we know visual basic, visual c# and other members of visual studio shares some common packages and the individual package of each of them is approximately is 450 MB. if we are going to download the all five packages that shares same packages like .net frame work etc. HOW TO DO THAT?

  9. astebner says:

    Hi Shobhit – I have posted a set of instructions at that describe how to download all 5 Express Editions and allow them to share the same prerequisite packages (like the .NET Framework 2.0, etc).  Can you please try out those instructions and let me know if you have any questions?