Interesting trends in downloads for the Windows SDK

We’re seeing some interesting trends in the numbers of downloads of the Windows SDK, and it we would like to get feedback from SDK users about your experiences with SDK downloads.


As many of you know, we release both an ISO and web version of our setup. The ISO version is simply an IMG of the SDK, about 1.1 or 1.2 GB in size, which you can download in full to your disk. Using the Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel, you can create a virtual drive or you can burn the ISO to disk and install it like any other “hard” version of software.


The web setup, on the other hand, has been one of the main focuses of my work in the last year. The Setup team has improved the web setup experience, and now it is a really good choice for many of our users, especially those who want to just download individual chunks of the SDK, such as compilers or the SDK tools.


What’s really interesting is that over the last several releases, the ratio between ISO and web downloads has changed dramatically. Thus far for RC1, the ratio is roughly 1:1 between ISO and web. For June CTP the ratio is 3:2. And for Beta 2, the numbers are roughly 3:1 between ISO and web.


It seems clear that use of the web download is trending upward over time. The reason for this trend is something we’d like to understand. Are users seeing the web download as being more secure or better than the ISO? Does it have something to do with the locations of the files on We’d love to have your feedback.


Jason Sacks

Setup PM

Comments (7)

  1. Mike Dunn says:

    I’ve _always_ gotten the full download of the PSDK going back to probably 1999. It’s simply for convenience. If I ever have to rebuild a dev machine, or maybe install VC in a VM, I know I can just grab a disc that has everything I need on it. No waiting for stuff to re-download.

    I have the bandwidth and blank media is cheap, so I don’t have any reason not to get the ISO.

  2. Andre says:

    I’d say it depends how popular you put the link for the image on the download page. Many people might just press the "Download" button without reading the page and finding the link for the image.

    Personally I have a dedicated drive where I have all images and installers for every installed software. So as soon as Vista is available I can put that drive into my new PC which is already waiting here and install all the software I need without having to find all the CDs and DVDs and go through the web setups.

  3. casilasi says:

    I agree with both the above comments. The ISO – especially with mount tool (Virtual CD) is best. I also have a NAS with images of everything, service packs and VMs. ISO are especially good with VMs.

    While download speeds have increased a lot the package sizes have also increased to DVD ISOs now so are they any faster overall? 😉

    Plus, if you use many technologies why not just install the lot? You never know what you may need. In this case the web setup would just take as long so no gain there.

    What would be interesting to see is the ratio of packages downloaded using the web-setup; i.e. do people download 30-60% of what’s in the ISO or go for the full lot?

  4. Garry Trinder says:

    I’m firmly in the ISO camp. Mainly because I’ve been installing it onto more than one computer with more than one OS.

    If i was to hazard a guess I would say it was because earlier adopters know exactly what they wanted while the closer we get to RTM there are more dare I say less for want of a better word technical people who have to assess it are going with the default option.

    A better way to assess this is whether or not the amount of ISO downloads are actually decreasing or are the Web Setup downloads just increasing faster.

  5. derekslager says:

    I typically use the web download for convenience, particularly since I’ve installed so many SDKs during the Vista beta period. I downloaded the ISO recently because the Connect site had a newer version and it was only available in that format.

  6. rwishlaw says:

    On the download page

    for the

    Microsoft® Windows® Software Development Kit (Web) for RC 1 of Windows Vista and .NET Framework 3.0 Runtime Components

    the Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel for Windows XP tool to mount the ISO image file virtually as CD-ROM devices without burning the image to a DVD DOES NOT WORK on Vista. It is OK on XP.


    The CRC utilitiy, to verify that your download of the ISO file for the Windows SDK RC 1 build is not corrupt, does not work on the ISO image. it was built to check floppies for Office 97 on Windows 95. Also the CRC.exe is a self-extracting zip which contains a readme file and the floppy checking utility which is named CRCDSK.EXE.

    The only tool that I have found which will mount the ISO files virtually on Vista is Daemon Tools which requires an Internet connection to function and that reminded me of some spyware programs.

    I would be very interested in any other solutions for mounting the ISO image file virtually on Vista.

    Robert Wishlaw

  7. jmichae3 says:

    microsoft’s idea of an ISO file isn’t actually an ISO file, but an img file. a new one on me.  everybody I know in the industry uses .ISO files.  can this be corrected?  must we use a tool (Isobuster) that from what I’ve seen so far can’t even burn a cd and uses nonstandard format files?

    even the .net sdk download, a 1.6GB download, is a .img file, what a disappointment when I can’t use it.

    please fix the problem.  TIA