About Visual Studio 2003 on Vista

A while ago Somasegar's blog post about MS not supporting Visual Studio 2003 on Windows Vista caused quite a stir in community. A lot of people were very concerned about this issue.

A note at this point: .net 1.1 and newer will be fully supported. It is just the Visual Studio that has problems. While they are putting all their effort in Visual Studio 2005 (through Service Pack 1 - it will be required - and there might still be some minor issues) and Visual Basic 6 (apparently still alive) they are leaving Visual Studio 2003 behind. The suggestion here is to use virtual machine to run Visual Studio 2003 on some other OS within this virtual environment. However, this is not an ideal solution for several reasons - the most important being that not everything runs in virtual machine environment, such as DirectX applications. The other almost equally important is slowness of virtual machines.

Back to the cause of the problems. Most of the problems are caused by Vista User Account Control (UAC) which is very aggressive in protecting the OS from various threats. And the side effect is that it nukes debuggers. In other words, you can run Visual Studio 2003 but you can't debug (remember old times, when we were putting a ton of "Output" methods in code instead of debugging).

Here are the good and the bad news: It is possible to run Visual Studio 2003 including debugger (at least in normal debugging situations - debugging WinForms, Console applications - I didn't tested others) in Vista but it comes with a price. You have to turn off UAC (you can do it by running msconfig utility) and switching on/off UAC requires a machine restart. Yep, I have turned it off because I need Visual Studio 2003 for DirectX managed applications. I guess I won't be using UAC for a while.

In my opinion (and in opinion of many others) MS' decision to support VB6 instead of VS2003 remains very questionable.

UPDATE (23.12.2006): Dan posted a comment with link to "what's not working in vista and how to workaround it".

Comments (9) -

  • Andrej Tozon

    11/9/2006 3:55:02 PM | Reply

    Seems kinda logical to me. It's easier to migrate applications from .NET 1.x to 2.0, than it is from VB6 to .NET anything. MS just decided to rush those people, who are familiar and already develop with .NET, to the latest, better environment. IMHO would be harder to push VB6 guys to do that.

  • Lee Roth

    11/22/2006 7:50:17 PM | Reply

    Yeah, it's easy to convert a Hello World app from .Net 1.1 to .Net 2.0, however complex apps are a nightmare. Add to that the quirky bugs in VS 2.0 and you have lots of sleepless nights for developers who believe that they must port to 2.0.

    Now a word about VS2003 on Vista. Running in a VM is ludicrous. How the heck are you supposed to debug a .Net 1.1 application's failure to work on Vista when you can't run the development environment? What boggles my mind is how MS expects tries to tell developers that it's not that hard to port their apps when they  don't/won't port their own??

  • John VandenBrook

    12/2/2006 5:36:51 PM | Reply

    If shutting of "User Account Control" is the only requirement to getting VS 2K3 running w/o issue, then I am not too concerned.  Actually, I shut UAC off for another reason...it was extremely annoying.  I didn't like the fact that I was presented with a confirmation nag-screen, however pretty it looks, asking me if I want to run the application I just tried launching.

    My concern with Vista is that it was developed during a time when everyone was whining about all of the security issues in Microsoft OS and when MS was receiving a ton of bad press about this.  So in addition to UAC there is BitLocker with TPM, and a host of other security features which have already been introduced in WinXP SP2+...I literally cannot install some programs because they don't have a valid certificate.

    The new paradigm that Microsoft has shifted to is that you are assumed to be an intruder not only of other networked computers, but of the pc you are working with.  I guess we wished for this in a way...

  • Ariel Levy

    12/4/2006 11:10:36 PM | Reply

    What must I do in order to enable Web development on vista?

  • Miha Markic

    12/5/2006 5:09:04 AM | Reply

    Hi Ariel,

    No idea, sorry.

  • Doogal

    12/6/2006 8:16:59 PM | Reply

    Hmm, I turned off UAC and I'm still having problems with Visual Studio 2003. Quite a few random crashes, much more than under XP.

  • Miha Markic

    12/7/2006 4:31:36 AM | Reply

    I found that it almost certainly crashes when doing text search on entire solution. And perhaps one random crash per day. Are you on SP1?

  • Doogal

    12/7/2006 5:30:53 AM | Reply

    Yep, I'm on SP1. Keeps crashing when I try to edit a C# code-behind file for an ASP.NET project