.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>


Comments (9)

  1. troglite says:

    This was frustrating. After extensive searches, I did not find a comprehensive solution for addressing installations that were corrupted because the spooler service was disabled (which is not a bad idea from a security perspective!).

    This seems to work:

    1. Re-enable the Spooler Service and set it to start automatically.

    2. Uninstall .NET 3.5

    3. Reboot.

    4. Install .NET 3.5

    5. Reboot

    6. Stop the spooler service and then disable it

    7. Reboot a 3rd time to make sure there are no startup errors.


  2. En mettant à jour un serveur dédié Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition, via le Windows Update classique,

  3. I have been helping a customer with moving their TFS 2005 server to new hardware and then upgrade it

  4. Andy says:

    For some reason my initial searches did not pick this article up, but good to know.  I did get a slightly different error message that alluded to the print service.

    I have clicked OK on this error in several installations, the installation then continues and says it installed successfully.  Do I need to go back and uninstall .NET 3.5 and reinstall on those systems?

    Also, does the Print Spooler service need to remain started forever for .NET 3.5 to work?


  5. Hi Andy – If you click OK on this error and setup completes, then most of the .NET Framework will be installed correctly, but XPS printing functionality will not work as expected.  If you don't care about that functionality, then I don't think you need to worry about oging back and uninstalling + reinstalling the .NET Framework on those computers.

    You don't need to keep the print spooler service started/running forever.  From what I've heard and seen so far, this issue only affects the setup process.