Visual Studio .NET 2003 and Windows 7 can get along – Seriously…

I know, I know – VS.NET 2003 is not supported on Windows Vista and above.  In fact Microsoft in their all-knowing wisdom went ahead and supported Visual Studio 6.0 on Vista, but not VS.NET 2003 !!

I don’t know if this speaks to the crappy nature of the VS.NET 2003 product or to weird resource constraints or some other theory (insert favorite MS conspiracy theory here) . The list of supported versions of the Visual Studio product line are AFAIK as follows-

  • Visual Studio 6.0 – Supported on Windows 7
  • Visual Studio 2002 – Not supported on Windows 7
  • Visual Studio 2003 – Not supported on Windows 7
  • Visual Studio 2005 SP 1- Supported on Windows 7
  • Visual Studio 2008 – Supported on Windows 7

So VS.NET 2003 and Window 7 are officially not on speaking terms – but the fact remains I need VS.NET 2003 for my job. Just because MS does not support it – I can’t NOT use it so despite all the warnings we went ahead and installed the darn thing and you know what – it installs – and runs (after a fashion)!  The annoying dialog declaring that the program is not supported is easily dismissed – there is a check box allowing you to block it from appearing again.  Debugging needs you to run in administrator mode – you can set this by right-clicking the shortcut choosing properties and then the compatibility sub-tab – there is a check-box to always run the program as administrator.

The next challenge was VS.NET 2003 refused to load my web projects so I went about looking for a way to set this up…  I opened up the IIS manager and boy let me tell you the IIS manager for IIS 7 is totally different from the IIS 5.0 and IIS 6.0 managers. You can configure everything down to the individual web.config files with this thing. Luckily running ASP.NET 1.1 on IIS7 is supported even though VS.NET 2003 is not so MS provided some helpful articles on IIS.NET – I found this article whose instructions I followed. There were some further gotchas that I encountered that you might be interested in knowing about -

  • I installed VS.NET 2003 SP1 to overcome a compilation problem. Apparently SP1 addresses these issues that occur when you have solutions with a large number of projects.
  • A weird thing is that sometimes the client scripts that are installed with ASP.NET 1.1 do not get properly installed – you need to run “aspnet_regiis” utility with the “-c” option from the command line to ensure it is properly installed.
  • I needed to install “Directory Browsing” from “Control Panel -> Programs -> Turn Windows Features On and Off ” and then switch on directory browsing for the main web-root (theoretically you can over-ride the web-root setting in the individual web project using the web.config files but ASP.NET 1.1 project web.config files are not supported apparently). You need directory browsing to be available in order to add the web-project to your solution from VS.NET 2003
  • You need to be part of the debugger users group on your computer in order to be able to do F5 debugging of your web project.
  • If you want to search across a project or a solution  to work then you need to tweak the compatibility settings . You can do this by right clicking the shortcut to launch VS.NET 2003 and selecting properties, choosing the “Compatibility” sub-tab and then checking “Disable Desktop Compositing” as well as “Disable Visual Themes” .(I got this tip from an answer to a question I posted on Stack Overflow).
  • If you partition your hard drive, make sure you allocate at least double what you used to allocate for the system (C:) drive when you were running on windows – not only is Windows 7 bigger, it needs more RAM and consequently your pagefile is bigger as well. Not to mention you will inevitably install VS.NET 2008 as well as VS.NET 2003 (after all that is the future right) and all the other goodies you had ;-)

Once you have done all this, things are more or less OK – performance is not much better or worse than XP but that’s probably more VS.NET 2003 than Windows 7.  So despite all the warnings and recommendations to use XP in a virtual machine (with 2 GB of RAM at my disposal – yeah right!!) here I am running VS.NET 2003 on Windows 7.  Overall, I think Windows 7 is a cool OS but the experience for me is marred due to reality of having to coax it to work with VS.NET 2003. In my firm – moving everything (and there is a LOT)  to a newer version of .NET is quite understandably a low priority given the economic climate – besides by the time we discuss and negotiate and decide to move MS has already come out with a newer version of everything ;-).

Well HTH  :-)

Take care y’all and be good ;-)

Update: Another blog entry you might be interested in is here.

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16 comments on “Visual Studio .NET 2003 and Windows 7 can get along – Seriously…

  1. Now getting this error

    —————————
    Microsoft Development Environment
    —————————
    Visual Studio .NET cannot create or open the application. The likeliest problem is that required components are not installed on the local Web server. Run Visual Studio .NET setup and add the Web Development component.
    —————————
    OK Help
    —————————

    Now getting this error while opening the code in vs 2003

    • Please look closely at the error you are getting, it is providing you with the information needed to fix the error as well. From the error that you have posted -

      “Visual Studio .NET cannot create or open the application. The likeliest problem is that required components are not installed on the local Web server. Run Visual Studio .NET setup and add the Web Development component. ”

      Please use some common sense and research your problem a little before posting comments like this.

      • Hi Nikhil,

        Thanks for your help it is working now :)

        Above error was coming because I have not created the virtual directory in IIS 7.5 and to run that code it require virtual directory.

  2. —————————
    Microsoft Development Environment
    —————————
    Error while trying to run project: Unable to start debugging on the web server. You do not have permissions to debug the server.
    Verify that you are a member of the ‘Debugger Users’ group on the server.
    —————————
    OK Help
    —————————
    getting this error while doing debug in vs 2003 on win 7 64 bit OS can u help on this

    • Hi Rauji,
      As the error description indicates the user that you are running VS2003 does not have sufficient privileges to debug the web-server. I am assuming that you are using a local IIS to run your debug session on. In this particular case you need to run VS 2003 with a user that has sufficient privileges. An easy way to do that in Windows 7 is by running the program as administrator. I have detailed how to do this in the post above – look in the 3rd paragraph where I talk about debugging and running in administrator mode.

      • Now getting this error

        —————————
        Microsoft Development Environment
        —————————
        Visual Studio .NET cannot create or open the application. The likeliest problem is that required components are not installed on the local Web server. Run Visual Studio .NET setup and add the Web Development component.
        —————————
        OK Help
        —————————

        Now getting this error while opining the code

  3. I am having trouble debugging…got the message that I need to be an administrator (which I am but VB doesn’t seem to care) or a member of the Debugger User Group…However, I am running Windows 7 Home Premium and apparently you cannot manage groups unless you have the Pro version…any ideas?

    Thanks

    -K

  4. I installed VS2003 as described but while my solutions open, the projects won’t. They are web applications. I tried to re-add them as existing projects and get the error that VS.net can’t create or open the project and that I should install the web dev. How can I edit the proj meta files so they will import? I did follow the article you referenced to setup .NET 1.1 and have done that configuration. Also, my .NET 1.1 websites are working fine. Any help appreciated. Thanks.

    • Hi Jane,
      You can install VS 2003 on a computer without all the pre-requisites installed. You can directly run the VS 2003 setup. Check out the comments on this post.
      Once you have installed VS 2003 you can disable the use of FPSE by default when creating ASP.NET projects. You can do this by going to Tools > Options > and then selecting the Projects group. Here select the “Web Settings” option and on the right side you can see the “Preferred access method” option. Choose the File Share radio button and press OK. Now you should be able to create a new web-project without FPSE.

  5. When installing VS 2003 it says that FrontPage Server Extensions are a prerequisite. What did you do since that is not supported on Windows 7? Did you install the Ready-to-Run version that supports IIS 7.0 (but not 7.5 which comes with Windows 7)?

    • Hi Kurt,
      Actually I installed VS 2003 without Front Page Server Extensions installed on my machine (I ignored the pre-requisite :-)). I don’t use FPSE for my web project development – I use the file share method. It looks like Microsoft has stopped supporting Front Page Server Extensions. If you have a strong requirement that your web projects must use FPSE then your best bet would be run a VM of Windows XP and install VS 2003 there.
      Sorry I can’t be of much more help :-(

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