Mailbag: How can I create an administrative install point for Visual Studio 2005?


You previously posted instructions for how to create an administrative install point (AIP) and deploy the .NET Framework 2.0 using Group Policy.  How can I create an administrative install point for Visual Studio 2005?


The following steps will allow you to create an administrative install point for Visual Studio 2005:

  1. Launch Visual Studio 2005 in administrator transform creation mode by running <Visual Studio source location>\setup\setup.exe /CreateTransform <path to transform file to create>.  Note that the /CreateTransform parameter only works when passed to the setup.exe in the setup subdirectory, not the setup.exe on the root of the Visual Studio source location.
  2. Enter the product key, select the features that you want to install and the destination location and click the button to create the transform needed for the administrative install point.
  3. Run msiexec /a <path to vs_setup.msi> /L*v <path to log file> TRANSFORMS =<path to transform created in steps 1 and 2 above> TARGETDIR=<path to create the adminstrative install point at>

Once you have created an administrative install point, you can create a Group Policy object to deploy Visual Studio 2005 using machine assignment (Visual Studio does not support per-user deployment scenarios).

Alternatively, you can directly install Visual Studio 2005 from the MSI in your administrative install point by using a command line such as the following:

  • msiexec /i <path to vs_setup.msi in your administrative install point> /L*v <path to log file> TRANSFORMS =<path to transform created in steps 1 and 2 above>

These instructions are also documented in sections 3.3 and 3.4 of the Visual Studio 2005 administrator mode readme.

<update date="3/11/2006"> Updated command line to create administrative install point to be simpler.  There is no need to pass the PIDKEY parameter because the product key information is contained in the transform passed in via the TRANSFORMS parameter </update>


Comments (10)
  1. This guide is intended to serve as a collection of links to articles, tools, tips and tricks that explain…

  2. Paul says:

    I’m using the /CreateTransform to install a full version of Visual Studio 2005 with MST on Windows XP which already has its prerequisites. Everything works fine when I use it. The only thing irritating is that upon creation, it doesn’t let me change Directory. I want to install it on the D:systprodvs2005 but it only sees the C:program files….. With a .INI, the installation lets me install where I want but I never managed to get rid of the Reboots… Can I create an MST using another Directory?

    Thanks a million,


    PS. I already tried passing the D:systprod….. path to INSTALLDIR and it didn’t work.

  3. Hi Paul – There should be an text box in the setup UI when creating the transform to type in a non-default path for VS 2005.  However, I haven’t tried deploying to a non-default path like that using a transform created in transform creation mode, so you will have to try it out and see what happens on your system.

    Also, if you want to eliminate reboots with the INI-based unattended mode, you can use the steps listed at

  4. This guide is intended to serve as a collection of links to articles, tools, tips and tricks that explain

  5. F. David del Campo Hill says:

    Is there a way to create a MST file for installing MSDN like you show here for Visual Studio?

  6. Hi F. David del Campo Hill – MSDN setup does not use the same setup.exe wrapper as Visual Studio, so there is not an option to create an MST.  However, MSDN setup is also designed differently behind the scenes, so an MST is not needed in order to deploy MSDN.  You can simply install it by running the MSI directly (and pass in any command line parameters you want that are supported by Windows Installer).

  7. F. David del Campo Hill says:

    Hi Aaron – So there is no way to select which parts of the MSI are installed? You either install the default for the MSI or not. I am trying to have a GPO to install custom parts of MSDN to correspond with the parts of Visual Studio I am also installing. Can you actually edit the MSI itself? Thanks for your time.

  8. Hi F. David del Campo Hill – There is not a built-in administrator mode to do this type of feature selection for MSDN setup.  However, you can run MSDN setup in full UI mode with MSI verbose logging enabled, select the features you want, and then look at the command line in the verbose MSI log.  That will give you a list of features that you can then use when installing MSDN in your GPO.  It is a little bit more complicated, but it should work fine.  Hopefully this helps.

  9. F. David del Campo Hill says:

    Hi Aaron – I ran the MSI in verbose mode, but I cannot find any command line in the log file that resulted. The only "command-line-like" entry only specifies the language (the famous 1033) and the path, but all the other info must be somewhere else, because they are not part of that line. Also, how can you enter a command line command into a GPO?


  10. Hi F. David del Campo Hill – Every verbose MSI log should have an entry with a command line listed, and if the product is not already installed, it should include a parameter named ADDLOCAL where all of the features to be installed are listed.  If you don’t see an ADDLOCAL entry, then the MSI will end up installing whatever features are checked by default in the setup UI (but for that case, you don’t need any customized logic to accomplish that).

    I’m not sure if it is possible to enter a command line into a GPO.  I don’t have any direct experience configuring GPOs, but I was expecting that there was some way to pass MSI properties through to the installation process as part of GPO deployment.  Without the ability to do that, any customization to the MSI would require you to apply a transform when staging the administrator install point.

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