LP on .NET

April 15, 2010

SQL Server 2008 Management Studio Express Installation Problems

Filed under: .NET,Microsoft,Software Development,SQL Server — Larry Parker @ 8:50 pm

Boy was this a day to remember.  Granted it was April 15th, but it had nothing to do with taxes.

I needed to apply a short SQL script to a database, so I fired up SQL Server 2005 Management Studio and tried to connect to my local SQL Server 2005 Express instance.  But surprisingly, I got this error:


[This version of Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio can only be used to connect to SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005 servers]

It turns out that my local SQL Server instance was no longer SQL Server 2005 Express but was instead SQL Server 2008 Express.  I recently installed Visual Studio 2010 on my development machine and it must have upgraded this.  Fair enough.

So I proceeded to run SQL Server 2008 Management Studio Express instead so it could talk to my SQL Server 2008 Express instance.  The only problem was that it wasn’t under the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 program group.  I guess VS 2010 did not install this but instead just installed the SQL engine itself.  I cannot understand why Microsoft would not include the GUI tool for SQL 2008, but surely they have a good reason.

So I found the SQL Server 2008 Management Studio Express link and proceeded to install that.

When I got to the Installation Type screen, I selected “Add features to an existing instance of SQL Server 2008”.


This seemed like the logical choice since SQL 2008 was already installed by the Visual Studio 2010 install.

But logic did not prevail in this case.  When I got to the Feature Selection screen, there were no features to select:


After searching around on some blogs and forums, it turns out that I should have selected “Perform a new installation of SQL Server 2008”:


Not very intuitive, but at least now I could select the Management Tools feature:


After successfully clicking through the next couple of wizard screens , I ran into another snag – this time on the Installation Rules screen:


When I clicked on the Failed hyperlink next to the “Previous releases of Microsoft Visual Studio 2008” entry, I got the following error:


[A previous release of Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 is installed on this computer.  Upgrade Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 to the SP1 before installing SQL Server 2008]

So I brought up Visual Studio 2008 to check if I had SP1 installed, and it turned out that I did.  Huh??  At this point, I felt like I was on Candid Camera (ok, I’m showing my age – I should have said Punk’d) and probably uttered a few expletives.

After looking around for Allen Funt, I mean Ashton Kutcher, I tried repairing Visual Studio 2008 by going to Control Panel and bringing up this screen:


Then I uninstalled SQL 2008 Express and reinstalled it again, but got the same problem on the Installation Rules screen where it was saying I needed VS 2008 SP1.

Note: make sure you install SQL Server 2008 Express with Tools!  At first I just installed SQL Server 2008 Express and had to waste more time figuring out why Management Tools was not available on the Feature Selection screen.

Back to the VS 2008 SP1 problem…  After checking around on a few blogs and forums, the general consensus was to uninstall Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and reinstall it.

Instead of suffering through completely uninstalling and reinstalling Visual Studio,  I tried out a shortcut and just reinstalled the service pack from this link.  I didn’t encounter any problems with this, but I highly recommend that you back up your Visual Studio 2008 settings first (under Tools | Import and Export Settings…).

So then I went back to the SQL Server 2008 Express with Tools installation and this time the Installation Rules passed the check.  Progress at last!  🙂


From there it was just a matter of clicking through the remaining wizard screens (and setting up some security) and it finally went through!


Wow.  That was a full day of work.  I finally got to run my SQL script at the end of the day, which took all of 30 seconds to complete.  Gotta roll with the punches, I guess.

Anyway, I sincerely hope this helps others out who have run into this same nonsense.  If you would like some more information on this problem, you can read more here and here.



  1. This was an extremely helpful article. Thank you.

    Comment by Thanh — November 17, 2010 @ 7:29 pm | Reply

  2. As Thanh said ‘extremely helpful’.
    I have Visual Studio 2010 installed and tried to install Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Management Studio Express. The first problem I had was the message:
    ‘ For Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, the install process displays the “Program Compatibility Assistant” dialog indicating that you must apply SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 1 or later. Select the option to “Run Program” to continue. Future releases of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Management Studio Express will not have this problem.’
    This appears even if you have the server pack installed! So you have to ‘Run Program’.
    The second problem was as you indicated that you have to
    “Perform a new installation of SQL Server 2008”: although all that you want is the management tools.
    All’s well that ends well but I wouldn’t have succeeded without your help!

    Comment by Gadya — December 30, 2010 @ 11:25 am | Reply

  3. Hi Larry,
    I’m currently running Visual Studio 2008 Express and have access to Visual Studio 2010 Pro… Should I uninstall 2008 express before installing 2010 Pro?

    Comment by Andrea — January 20, 2011 @ 3:14 pm | Reply

    • If you’re able to convert your existing VS 2008 Express projects over to VS 2010 Pro, then I would just uninstall VS 2008, install VS 2010, convert my projects, and move ahead with the latest. I don’t miss VS 2008 since I’ve been using VS 2010! 🙂

      Comment by Larry Parker — February 1, 2011 @ 9:16 pm | Reply

  4. Your whole day effort made my effort reduced to 30 mins. Thanks buddy.
    Thank you so much.

    Comment by neo — January 21, 2011 @ 3:13 am | Reply

  5. Worked like a charm.

    Comment by Alex — March 16, 2011 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

  6. Thanks much, your choose Perform a new installation as opposed to Add a feature saved me. Been working on it for hours and hours. It makes no sense to me but I made a note an moved on.

    Comment by alan stokes — May 9, 2011 @ 2:13 pm | Reply

  7. If you are trying to install SQL-2008 and you also have visual studio 2008 installed with service pack one (SP1) and get the error

    “A previous release of Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 is installed on this computer. Upgrade Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 to the SP1 before installing SQL Server 2008”

    Then welcome to the Microsoft beta testing program even if you purchased the faulty software.

    With XP the most common solution seem to be renaming the registry key
    And replacing ‘9.0’ with ‘9.0Old’ however this does not solve the problem if you are using windows 7 and the only solution I managed to find that worked was to uninstall VS2008 and all the components and to then install SQL-2008 and finally reinstall VS2008.

    Comment by David Davis — July 22, 2011 @ 9:24 am | Reply

  8. Thanks!!! I had the same problem…
    Thank You wery much!!

    Comment by Tibor — May 31, 2012 @ 3:33 am | Reply

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