Creating a New Project in Visual Studio fails when FIPS is enabled

While testing application compatibility on Windows 10, one of my customers encountered an issue creating a new project in Visual Studio 2015 when FIPS was enabled. A new project could be completed successfully one time, but all future attempts to create a new project failed with an error message stating “Object reference not set to an instance of an object”.


Visual Studio FIPS Error


We isolated the issue to the FIPS security hardening requirement included as part of the Windows 10 Security Technical Implementation Guideline. For additional details, see the following link:

With this information, we then worked with the Visual Studio product group to collect trace/stack information, and the developer was able to isolate the problem to a known issue in the “Application Insights for Visual Studio” extension. The bug has already been fixed, which allowed us to perform the following steps to resolve the issue on our development machine:

  1. Uninstall the “Application Insights for Visual Studio” extension through Tools -> Extensions and Updates. Since the code path that is causing the issue is in this extension, removing the extension made the problem go away. NOTE: This must be uninstalled with an elevated account. Many enterprises do not allow “normal users” to have administrative rights on their machines, so this uninstall will require additional elevated privileges.
  2. (Optional) Reinstall the “Application Insights for Visual Studio” extension. When you reinstall the extension, you get the latest version of the code, which includes the fix. If you aren’t using the extension, you do not need to reinstall it. However, if you are using the extension, you can reinstall it without reintroducing the issue on your machine.

Visual Studio FIPS Error

Without elevated privileges, the disable button is grayed out and the uninstall does not successfully uninstall the extension.

Visual Studio FIPS Error

Running in elevated mode allows you to uninstall the extension. Restart Visual Studio to see the change and you are able to create new projects again successfully.

Visual Studio FIPS Error

Special thanks to the amazing Joie Andrew, John Gardner, and Bertan Aygun for the great assistance on identifying, analyzing, and testing the scenario and solution.

Sam Lester (MSFT)


Additional note: If you are working in an environment that requires FIPS to be enabled, we also identified a FIPS related bug in Power BI Desktop that has now been fixed.

Comments (2)

  1. scryptKiddy says:

    This is a great article, and what we were looking for. I’ll forward this off to my colleagues to implement, thanks for tracking this down!

  2. John Gardner says:

    FYI, versions of the application insights tools from VS2015 Update 2 or newer would appear as “Developer Analytics Tools” in the extensions and updates window, and should not have this issue in the new project dialog.

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