SQL 2005 Tools Install Experience is the suck

Just finished building a couple of ultimate developer rig machines for the office for Brendan and me, and was adding software today. So I installed Office, Visual Studio 2008, and then SQL Server 2005. I'd forgotten that installing SQL 2005 client tools seems to require sacrificing a chicken under the right lunar conditions in order to get it right! I've blogged about this same issue before, but apparently it gets [sarcasm]better[/sarcasm] with x64.

I did my due diligence and searched for the answer after the previous steps Brendan outlined failed with Vista 64 and SQL 2005 x64. I found a blog entry that sounded promising, that involved running setup.exe with the SKUUPGRADE=1 parameter. This failed.

But I did find the answer! The trick is to browse to the Tools folder and run SqlRun_Tools.exe directly.

This WORKS! Here's the full path, on my CD (MSDN):

{drive}ENGLISHSQL2005DEVELOPERSQL Server x64ToolsSetupSqlRun_Tools.exe

Whew. Glad to get that working. But let's revisit the process of installing, and compare the Visual Studio install experience with the SQL Client Tools install experience. We'll start with Visual Studio.

Visual Studio 2008 Install Experience

1) Put in DVD
2) Click the Install Visual Studio link
3) Click Next a couple of times. Verify your license key. Pick what to install. Next.
4) Everything it needs gets installed in N minutes without restarts or user intervention.
5) Stick a fork in it – it's done.

SQL Server 2005 Install Hell Experience

1) Put in MSDN DVD
2) Tell browser it's ok to show active content in it so the menu comes up.
3) Scratch head about which version of Developer you want to install – pick one (SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition – 64-bit Extended (English)).
4) Opens up Windows Explorer in the root folder with no further instructions.[d:ENGLISHSQL2005DEVELOPER] Also there are no executables in this folder, no MSI files, and three subfolders (SQL Server Itanium, SQL Server x64, SQL Server x86). WTF? Didn't I just tell you I wanted 64-bit non-Itanium?
5) *Guess* that SQL Server x64 folder is where you'll actually find the installer.
6) Nope. Found folders for Servers and Tools. What was I trying to install again? Oh hell, let's try Servers.
7) *Guess* that Setup.exe is what we want here. Run it. This part actually works. Mostly. Except it won't install my client tools. And it says IIS isn't installed. So I install it, but it still doesn't see it. I let it finish. I reboot. I try it again. It still can't see it. I say screw it I still need management studio because that failed.
8) Go back to step 6 and pick Tools.
9) Run Setup.exe. It fails saying the tools are already installed (SQL Express comes with Visual Studio, remember). Say Next. Modal dialog telling me I fail. Look for back button so I can tell it to just go ahead and overwrite the install. There isn't one. Click Cancel. It reminds me how dumb I am to try and do this.
10) Go Google for while about this issue.
11) Figure out that if you just go to the SETUP folder under TOOLS and then click SqlRun_Tools.exe, it will actually install the tools. Wonder to oneself why the SETUP.exe file in the TOOLS folder doesn't just call this to begin with and save me the trouble.
12) Poke something sharp in eye to distract from pain of SQL Server install process

Seriously, I love the install experience for Vista. I love the install experience for Office. I love the install experience for Visual Studio. Please send the SQL installer team off to remedial installer training with any of these teams!

kick it on DotNetKicks.com

  • Rick Strahl

    > Visual Studio 2008 Install Experience

    Just wait a while until the next round of tools ship and we’ll be back to installing VS plus 5 or 6 SDKs and Tools on top of it.

    I agree with SQL installation. I’ve had numerous problems installing SQL 2005 on machines. Another fun one is install full SQL after having installed SQL Express – somehow the Client Tools do not get installed even if you checked the option…

  • ssmith

    @Rick – Yeah, the Express issue is exactly the problem you run into when you install Visual Studio before SQL tools.

  • http://

    If you look inside EnglishSQL2005DeveloperSQL Server x64autorun.com, you’ll see the line: “shellexecute=Serverssplash.hta *DVD*”

    If you manually run splash.hta, you’ll get the correct installation screen where you can decide exactly which SQL 2005 components to install. I suspect that if you burned EnglishSQL2005DeveloperSQL Server x64 to a DVD, autorun would do the right thing once the DVD is inserted.

  • Scott Whigham

    Just wait until you forget to install a component and want to go back and install it. That’ll put you over the edge :)

  • ssmith


    It’s *already on a DVD* (from MSDN) so why on earth would I try and burn part of my DVD to a DVD? I agree with you that that would work great, but it’s hardly intuitive and user friendly.

  • Brendan

    As an extra note I will mention that. As with all installs, you want to run as administrator in Vista, so make sure you do that or it will not work.

  • http://

    Also… make sure you have at least Internet Explorer 6 installed… as soon as I installed that and then when I re-installed the tools, SQL management Studio showed up…

  • http://

    Dude, I laughed outload at your description, I have been working throught the exact same problems. Thanks for levity it made my day.

  • Michael


    Your tip saved me from a stay in the special room with mattresses on the walls. I only wanted to install the Mgmt tools on my laptop and the main installer failed because I had Office 2007 instead of Office 2003. (A reasonable person might wonder why you need OFFICE installed in order to install SQL Server Management Studio.) Following your tip, I was able to reach my goal without a psychiatric vacation.



  • Ob 1 Knobe

    Looky Here,, Something to calm the nerves a little…

    Un-Install cleanup utility from Microsoft


    (these are not the droids your looking for…)

  • Sara

    I swear to god if this works I will make you a bastard child I have been sitting here uninstalling and reinstalling and just plain installing for about three hours.

  • ssmith


    I’d settle for a link from your blog… :)

  • http://

    Thank you!!

  • http://

    Thanks, this saved the day (or rather night) for me.

    Seriously, are the Sql Server installation team trying to make it hard for developers?

    As for the person who suggested just browsing the Setup.hta, that was only installing server components. Not the client components (studio et al)

    Thanks again


  • http://

    I’ve never had a problem with this. You are just mentally inept.

  • ssmith


    Thanks, I get that a lot. 😛

  • http://

    Thanks Steve, It helped me too.

    @ Stauf. Yes -anyone who has a problem you don’t have is mentally inept. Anyone poorer than you is lazy. Anyone who helps others is a retard. Anyone with a name like yours should be put inside a turkey. Merry Christmas.

  • http://

    I´ve 2 OS in the same machine and i installed it in d: using msicuu2.exe and cleaning all SQL and MSXML resources.

  • http://

    THANK YOU!!! :-)

  • http://

    Thank you. Even almost a year later, this problem still exists.

  • http://

    One more THANK YOU from me :)

  • http://

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!

  • http://

    SQL Server Management Studio 2005 would not install on my machine (XP Pro, Office 2007, Dev Studio 2008). I removed every SQL Server program, but the SSMS tools install still insisted everything was already installed.

    Someone suggested using Microsoft’s Windows Install Clean Up utility to remove MSXML 6.0 Parser. I did this. The SSMS 2005 tools install then worked. (I ran setup.exe from the tools dir.)

    (If I understand Evertom he did the same.)

  • http://

    This is a lifesaver. I don’t know how many hours I spent installing and uninstalling. I am amazed the SQL setup is such a horrendous process.

  • Mitch Bird

    Just recently re-upped my MSDN and yes there is no documentation (we have no documentation, today :) for the two versions of SQL 2005 I received … Digging, I found something about it times out after 6 months (but my MSDN scrip is longer than that?)… Are these pre-keyed Dev versions? i am a little leary of running set up having had to download SQL Express SP3 to install VS2005 (because I had installed FX Service Packs … I guess) …. i am confused. I don’t see any keys included in my keys list

    I had a copy of SQL Server (full) with my former MSDN scrip and I remember the nightmare of trying to install it on my Vista machine … I never did get it. I think their interface team should go back to school to … recently it has been getting less and less intuitive to do anything with MS products. IMHO

  • http://

    Totally sucks ass – I’ve been beating my head against the proverbial wall for about 2 hours on this BS.

  • Dwain Browne

    LMAO….”Poke something sharp in eye to distract from pain of SQL Server install process” i could totally relate to that… thanks for the tip btw..

  • http://

    Try installing SQL 2005 SP3. Anyone have any idea why a service pack requires and additional >>1GB!!!<< of space?