Is Windows XP SP2 required for .NET Framework 2.0?

Recently a customer asked me if XP SP2 is a required preq for .NET Framework 2.0...   Here is the answer we were able to get out to them... I thought you’d be interested.   While the .NET Framework 2.0 may install on SP1 or XP Gold, these will not be supported configurations. 


Microsoft is making concerted efforts to ensure that systems are as secure as possible by default. As part of these efforts, the only version of Windows XP that .NET Framework 2.0 is supported on is Service Pack 2 and above.


Microsoft has released service packs for many of its supported operating systems, with the most notable being Windows XP Service Pack 2, a service pack almost entirely focused on improving the security. To date, Windows XP SP2 has been deployed to the vast majority of Windows XP systems – literally hundreds of millions of systems.


When a service pack can so dramatically improve the security of a system, the .NET Framework will require it. While Microsoft does continue to support other operating systems, it remains paramount that we ensure that we do everything we can to improve the security of our premier desktop operating system. Although customers may find that the .NET Framework can install on Windows XP Gold and SP1, this is not a supported configuration.



What do you think? Is this a sensible policy?

Comments (29)

  1. Erik Renes says:

    I do understand the policy, since the obvious enhancements in SP2, but I also think it would be a confusing answer.

    If I would be a customer asking if SP2 is a prerequisite for .NET framework 2.0 I would expect a simple yes or no. I don’t find it very clear in this answer.

    If I would be a Microsoft employee had to respond to the question, my answer would be something like:

    "Although it will run on other configurations than XP SP2, we highly recommend upgrading your systems to ensure secure operation of the system."

  2. Nektar says:

    Does it follow the Microsoft Support lifecycle policy? If not then it should.

    I am not happy that eg. newer software from Microsoft do not run on older oses like Win2k and only support XP. So, I will not be happy if instead of supporting XP only, now Microsoft apps would begin to only support XP+SP2.

    How come, other programs that are open source and thus they should have less efford and money put in them or at their disposal, can support multible platforms and not only a single platform, let alone a single os version (XP) or a single service pack of that version eg. SP2?

  3. May find? How very, umm, "fluffy".

    Last year I had a project where the target architecture was NT4.0, and we had great fun with the IT department in the bank accepting the .net framework on that platform.

    As I was leaving they were pushing out XP to the desktops. With service pack 1. I would put serious money on them not having service pack 2 on there even now.

    Now imagine me turning to that bank and saying "The official Microsoft line for v2.0 of the .net framework is you *may find* it will work". Can you imagine the laughter?

    This was a bad decision if you want corporate environments to adopt v2.0 of the framework quickly.

  4. tzagotta says:

    I agree with the other user comments. IMO, .NET 2.0 on versions other than XP2 should either be permitted and supported, or not permitted.

    As an application developer, I have little/no control whether our customers apply SP2. All I can enforce is that .NET 2.0 is installed. Now this policy opens up the possibility that .NET 2.0 on non-SP2 may or may not work properly. This pushes the support cost of this possible confiuration onto us.

    Therefore, I think that .NET 2.0 should not install on non-SP2 if that is not a supported configuration.

  5. tzagotta says:

    One additional question – what about Windows 2000? Many of our customers are using this. Is .NET 2.0 Framework supported on Windows 2000, and with which service packs?

  6. J Bryan Kramer says:

    The problem is that some ISD groups have not moved to SP2 because the network management software package they are using is broken under SP2.

    It took me a month to convince the IS people to let me install SP2 on my development system so I could install VS2005.

    Developers are way down on the bottom of the priority list in many firms.


  7. J Bryan Kramer says:

    Oh and one other thing, now that I have VS2005 on my system I have to hope that MSBee is released soon since none of the people who use my software can use NET2 apps right now.


  8. A Hall says:

    I have to agree with all the above comments. However I have to say that I feel it was a little short sighted of Microsoft not to support Windows XP SP1.

    Many large organisations utilise both Java and Microsoft to implement software solutions. When faced with deciding the technology to use for a new development (be it either short or long term) .NET 2.0 is potentially ignored due to the requirement of SP2 thus resulting in Java becoming more prevalient.

    This can only be bad for Microsoft.

  9. Stephane Rodriguez says:

    That’s completely off-track. What .NET 2.0 requires is Windows Installer 3.x

  10. Stephane Rodriguez says:

    …and neither Windows Installer 3.0 nor Windows Installer 3.1 run-times are part of Windows XP and Windows XP SP1.

  11. Nic Wise says:

    I think that SP2 should be a requirement to turning a PC ON. Anyone without it needs to seriously examine why they dont have it 🙂

    Of course, why .NET 1.1 wasn’t include in SP2 is beyond me…. 🙂

  12. Erik Renes says:

    @tzagotta: The .net framework 2.0 does install on windows 2000. Whether it works properly? It does for me, but I only use a fraction of the possibilities the framework offers.

  13. BradA says:

    Wow – great feedback… I am going to pass it on to make sure the right folks see it.. in the mean time

    I know there is some consternation about the blocking vs. nonblocking on XPSP2, but I think Eric says it right at the top of the thread

    "Although it will run on other configurations than XP SP2, we highly recommend upgrading your systems to ensure secure operation of the system."

    The official list of supported platforms for .NET Framework 2.0 are:

    • Windows 98/Me,

    • Windows 2000 (SP3*…due to Windows Installer 3.0 dependency)

    • Windows XP SP2

    • Windows 2003 Server

    I believe the Windows Installer 3.0 is required for some of the GACNGen work we do at install time…

  14. Sam Gentile says:

    Anyone running in Win9X/Me in their environment, should be fired on the spot for stupidity.

    I agree with the person that said XP SP2 is a basic requirement for even turning ON the computer. Win2K3 SP1 works just as well.

    So yes!!

  15. Adam Young says:

    I can see why this was done – great way to force devs to upgrade to sp2, but unfortunately this is going to mean a lot of large companies with managed desktops can’t upgrade to .net 2 / vs 2005 for a long while yet. This is because the desktop is so tightly locked down that even something as "vital" as sp2 won’t be rolled out until it’s been through a big cumbersome approvals and testing process.

  16. Kevin W says:

    As we all know, Win XP SP2 has the potential to prevent some business applications from functioning correctly (5-10% will fail based on statements we have had from MS reps).

    Therefore large corporations need to go through a validation and remediation exercise, sometimes involving thousands of applications.

    Consequently, it will take considerable time for some organisations to implement XP SP2. In the meantime, developers and users want / demand / need the benefits offered by latest products, such as .NET Framework 2.0 and VS2005.

    Allowing .NET Framework 2.0 to install and apparently run fine on XP SP1 creates an almost inevitable situation where organisations will end up with unsupported configurations. I think Microsoft should reconsider.

  17. Max C says:

    When a customer calls us support on our .NET 2.0 based product and they don’t have SP2 installed, we need to know whether to tell them they have to install SP2 before continuing.  We can’t tell them this unless it’s true, because rolling out XP2 within their organisation could be a great deal of effort.

    The above policy is perfectly sensible but not at all helpful in the above situation.  The question is: does it work?

  18. tzagotta says:

    In my experience thus far, .NET 2.0 does work on XP SP1, however, depending on the OS configuration, you might need to first update the Windows installer to the latest version.

  19. arnox says:

    If there is no true technical reason to require SP2 for .NET2, then Microsoft’s decision to force software vendors to push SP2 on their customers could have legal implications. Whether our customers decide to install SP2 because it’s safe and “the right thing to do” is none of my business. However, if we have to ask them to do so, for no good reason, we are the ones who will look bad when SP2 breaks other applications on their system (support cost goes up, company image suffers). In that case, Microsoft should be held accountable.

    The other issue is disclosure. I don’t recall seeing BIG RED warnings that .NET2 only runs on XP with SP2 – not even an asterisk. Can Microsoft do anything right?

    If it were up to me, we would be using Java and deploy for Windows, UNIX and Mac with single code base and sleep well at night, but it will probably take a while for a large software vendor like the one I work for to make the switch. On the other hand, you are giving me excellent PowerPoint material – thank you!

  20. tzagotta says:

    >> If there is no true technical reason to require SP2 for .NET2 <<

    There is at least one that I know of, that SP2 carries an updated version of the Windows Installer component, that is required by .NET 2.0.

    >> If it were up to me, we would be using Java <<

    That’s funny! Now what version of JRE would you use for that? Because I’ve got some apps that require older versions of JRE and don’t work on newer versions, some apps that require newer versions of JRE, etc. – so you end up having to deploy and maintain several JRE versions.

    This situation is not entirely unlike .NET, which may have multiple versions required on a system, except that for .NET there are far fewer releases made, and interfaces don’t change within the same major version. This is not the case with JRE, where even minor updates often introduce compatibility issues.

  21. herm says:

    consider this.

    it is very difficult for normal persons to install an illegal copy off XP sp2 on their computer or to upgrade an illegal copy of xp to sp2.  the first requiers activating it with a crack and fooling arround in the registry, the second method will refuse to install sp2 at first.

    if developers are now forced to use sp2 with NET2.0 then this means their programms will not run on illegal copy’s off XP or will not run properly.  

    therefore iff in the future these persons or ?? company’s

    buy your software. They are forced to use a legal copy of Windows Xp sp2 and beyond.

    therefore Microsoft is very quiet on this issue ore uses the security argument to hide this issue.

    one point for microsoft.

    sp2 is not about security, it is there to figth illegal software.  

    or is at least a very nice side effect for them.

  22. tzagotta says:

    From my perspective, that is fine. We don’t have any expectations that our customers would be running illegal/hacked copies of Windows.

  23. DarthSius says:

    I seem to get major flak nowadays when trying to update certain parts of windows, including the windows 3.0 installer (which I need to get net framework 2.0) by getting a bad validation check by the microsoft’s update service. Which sucks, new computer and everything, kind of pisses me off.

    Can anyone point me to somewhere that I can get WinInstaller 3.0 without having to go through Microsoft? Is that illegal? lol Hope not…

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