Slipstreaming Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1

Now that Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1 is released, some are wondering how to slipstream the patch so they can install Visual Studio 2005 with SP1 already applied. Much of this process is standard practice for Windows Installer packages.

Please note this will require a lot of disk space, as you’re unpacking around 3 GB – and more, if you add the MSDN installation, though that is not patched in this service pack – just for the product installation.

1. Install the Product

You must create an administrative image of Visual Studio 2005 in order to slipstream the service pack in that way. Installing the patch while installing the product – though a supported scenario with Windows Installer – is not supported in our patches currently because of how actions are conditioned, a more general problem I’ll discuss in a future post.

Assume D: is your CD or DVD drive letter, and \servershare is a path with space available all licensed users can access.

msiexec.exe /a D:vs_setup.msi TARGETDIR=\servershare /L*vx install.log

2. Unpack the Patch

The patch you download for service pack 1 is a wrapper around the .msp file, so you must unpack the .msp file using the patch-standard /extract switch. Assuming you made an administrative installation of Team Suite, the main Visual Studio 2005 SP1 is used below:

VS80sp1-KB926601-X86-ENU.exe /extract “%TMP%”

3. Apply the Patch

Now that you have the .msp file extracted, you must apply it to the administrative installation from step 1.

msiexec.exe /a \serversharevs_setup.msi /p “%TMP%VS80sp1-KB926601-X86-ENU.msp” /L*vx patch.log

4. Installing the Patched Product

The official deployment strategy for Visual Studio 2005 network installations can be found in KB907759. Copy the contents of the CD or DVD to the same directory – like \servershare in the example above – but do not replace any files. You really don’t need to copy the CAB files in the root directory, either. All those files have been expanded into source directories. This step is to copy the bootstrap files and other required components to the installation directory. After copying is complete, run setup.exe as normal.


Because when Windows Installer installs a patch to an administrative image, the identity of the patch is essentially lost (the #transform is not persisted, which contains information about how to apply the patch) the service pack is not uninstallable when you install the slipstreamed installation you just created. The entry in Add/Remove Programs (ARP) was written in lieu of having ARP discover the patch, but without an UninstallString registry value for the patch because the patch doesn’t actually exist and can’t be uninstalled.

This is also an expanded form of the installation, with all files loose in their source directory structure. If someone were to write a tool to repackage this, such a tool would have to – based on the Media table, attributes in the File table, and Word Count summary property as described in File Sequencing and How Files are Located – re-CAB some files and embed some of those CAB files back into the .msi file, then reset the administrative image bit (bit 2) in the Word Count summary property.