Top reasons for failing to download Visual Studio Express beta 1

As you might know, now you can download Visual Studio express SKU's from here for free.

Since the release last Monday, we have seen that some users failed to download this product.  The top reasons include:

1. The user cancelled the download.

Please be reminded that you are downloading a large product, for example, the documentation component (MSDN express) itself is over 150 MB.  And, given the volume of download we are receiving, sometimes the progress will be very slow and it may look like hanging.  Give it more time and you have a good chance of eventually finish the download.

2. The BITS service is disabled on the machine.

The VS express web setup relies on the BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) service on the user's machine to download the setup files.  BITS is enabled by default when you install Windows, but some user may choose to disable it for “performance gain”.  This is not necessary as BITS is taking very little resource.  You need to enable BITS before trying to install VS express over the web.

3. The user is not logged on.

Some users are trying to run VS express web setup under other's identity by using the “runas” command.  This is not supported by BITS.  You have to be logged on interactively.  Another unsupported scenario is running the setup in a Terminal Server session into a Windows 2000 server machine.  (Terminal Server into Windows XP and Windows 2003 server is fine.)

Comments (7)
  1. Australian says:

    Why not just make the product downloadable?

    Or do you want to stop people from using it?

  2. AT says:

    Re: 3.

    So in case if I’m paranoid and running all my software under non-admin by default, using 64Kbit ISDN I’m unable to download VS Express without been logged in as admin for several hours/days ?



    Visual C# 2005 Express Edition Beta


    Setup discovered the following problem:

    You must have administrative privileges to run Visual C# 2005 Express Edition Beta Setup. Please contact your system administrator.




    RunAs does not work as you have described. As well I’m unable to use corporate Terminal Server (even in case I’m Administrator) ?

    Summary: Direct download links are a must.

    Thanks in advance

  3. dan heskett says:

    You don’t have to be such a jerk about "performance gain" you know!

    Some people (like myself) don’t have BITS enabled for very very good reasons:

    1. There is no reason to have it enabled. I don’t want my machine downloading stuff in the background without me knowing – intelligent or not.

    2. It’s a security risk. Any unneeded internet enabled service should be disabled.

    3. It’s redundant. Microsoft designed the service for background downloading of software. Yet, in the case of the MSDN setup, the downloading takes place in the foreground! This service may be useful if downloads could be added to a download list, and a notification given to the user when it’s ready. Meanwhile it runs completely in the background. The service would neat if the installer stub submitted a download job, and the user was notified when it was done downloading.

    Why bother using BITS in the first place? You can’t resume the download. You can’t pause it. You can throttle it, set it to run in the background etc. I can’t see any gain in this at all over using resumable FTP, except that it’s proprietary Microsoft technology.

    If you want developers to use your products, make them EASY to OBTAIN, INSTALL, and WORK WITH. I don’t care how great the product is, if I can’t get it because of a corporate firewall than it’s useless for me.

  4. the1 says:

    Dear Dan,

    I wasn’t aware that I was being a jerk when I wrote about "performance gain". If you were referring to the use of quotation marks, I used them to show that I was quoting what other people told me. According to the Dictionary of English Usage, this is the usual usage of quotation marks. (See the first paragraph at I wasn’t using them in a sarcastic way. I’m sorry if that’s your impression.

    You raised some very good points about why people are disabling BITS and why we cannot abandon using it for our web setup. I’ll forward your comments to my team so they will be considered when we develope the next release.

    Regarding your #3, yes we are using BITS only in the foreground currently. However, we do have plan of downloading the setup packages in the background. I believe you will see that in our beta 2 release. It may not be exactly as you suggested though.

    When we implement the background download in the setup, you will be able to pause and resume the download, as you wished.

    I appreciate your comments and am looking forward to hearing more!

  5. Kevin Hyman says:

    I too cannot use BITS through the Corporate firewall. I am now on about my 7th attempt to download the 162MB msdn element. I get so far, then the download completes after 10, 20 or once 160MB. I then have to restart all over again. Why can you not put it on a resumable ftp server? It would save a lot of frustration among the very people you want to use your product: those who are looking for a simple, reliable way to develop small applications quickly.

  6. bmoore says:

    Kevin – couple things:

    1) we just found a bug in the product that causes us to actually download using BITS in the background. So even though it appears to the user that we’re downloading in the fg, we’re not. That means BITS is throttling – sooooo… if you haven’t already, when you’re running through setup – don’t use your net connection for other thing, that will cause BITS to back off the download.

    2) for the next drop, we’re going to be using the restart functionality of BITS, so you won’t lose your 10, 20 or 160MB. We just didn’t make it for Beta 1. We used BITS as the foundation so we can get to some of the very features you guys are mentioning. I’m not sure when we’ll get there for all of these, but we will. In any case, we’ll be saving the 160MB partial download soon.

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