Installing Visual Studio 2015 on Windows 8.1


Welcome to my article. Today, I would like to tell you about all the problems I have encountered whilst installing Visual Studio 2015 on my Windows 8.1 machine.

First, a brief history about Visual Studio and how it evolved..

Visual Studio History

Visual Studio 97

Also known as Boston, this iteration that started the beginning of Visual Studio codenames, was released in 1997. Visual Studio 1997 bundled many of Microsoft’s programming tools together for the first time, as all prior versions were sold separately. Visual Studio 1997 included Visual C++, Visual Basic, Visual FoxPro, Visual J++ 1.1, and InterDev. A companion CD also included the MSDN library.

Visual Studio 6.0 (1998)

Codenamed Aspen, Visual Studio 6.0 was released in 1998, and is the last version to run on the Windows 9x platform and also the last version before the .NET Framework. This version is also the last version to include Visual J++ because Microsoft had to remove it due to a settlement with Sun Microsystems.

Visual Studio .NET (2002)

Microsoft released Visual Studio .NET, codenamed Rainier, in 2002. The biggest change from the previous version was the introduction of a managed code development environment using the .NET Framework. Programs developed using .NET are not compiled to machine language, but instead to a format called Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL). This was the first version of Visual Studio to require an NT-based Windows platform.

Visual Studio .NET 2003

Codenamed Everett, Microsoft introduced a minor upgrade to Visual Studio .NET, called Visual Studio .NET 2003, in 2003. It included an upgrade to the .NET Framework to version 1.1, and was the first release to support developing programs for mobile devices, using ASP.NET or the .NET Compact Framework.

Visual Studio 2005

Whidbey, or rather Visual Studio 2005, was released in 2005. Visual Studio 2005 supported all the new features introduced in .NET Framework 2.0, including ASP.NET 2.0 and generics. New project types were added to support ASP.NET web services. Visual Studio 2005 also included a local web server, separate from IIS, that could host ASP.NET applications during development and testing. It also supported all SQL Server 2005 databases.

Visual Studio 2008

Visual Studio 2008 (Orcas) was released to the general public in 2008 and included the new .NET Framework 3.5. Visual Studio 2008 was focused on the development of Windows Vista, Office 2007, and Web applications. For visual design, a new Windows Presentation Foundation visual designer and a new HTML/CSS editor influenced by Microsoft Expression Web were included. J# was not included. Visual Studio 2008 also supported multi-targeting, a feature that lets the developers choose which version of the .NET Framework (out of 2.0, 3.0, 3.5, Silverlight CoreCLR, or .NET Compact Framework) the assembly ran on.

Visual Studio 2010

Codenamed Dev10, Visual Studio 2010, along with .NET Framework 4.0, was released in 2010. The Visual Studio 2010 IDE was redesigned; this cleared the UI organization and “reduced clutter and complexity.” The new IDE supported multiple document windows and floating tool windows better, while offering better multi-monitor support. The IDE shell was rewritten using the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), whereas the internals were redesigned using Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF)

Visual Studio 2012

Visual Studio 2012 was released in 2012. Visual Studio 2012 included:

  • Code Snippets
  • Semantic Colorization
  • New Solution Explorer
  • Reference Highlighting
  • Member List Filtering
  • Automatic Display of IntelliSense list

Visual Studio 2013

Visual Studio 2013 was released in 2013.

Visual Studio 2015

The Release Candidate of Visual Studio 2015, or Visual Studio 14, was released in April 2015.

Visual Studio 2015 RC downloads

The available Visual Studio 2015 RC downloads are as follows:

The Problem with Installing the Visual Studio 2015 RC

If you had a look at all the available Visual Studio 2015 RC options to install, it can seem quite daunting. This is why there are simply too many, in my opinion, and it is quite easy to get confused as to which version you should install. Yes, there is some explanation next to each available version, but you have to dig through the myriad MSDN pages and links just to get a decent overview of which version does what.

This is my problem, and it turns out, this is many a developer’s problem.

On a nice and quiet evening, I thought it good to install Visual Studio 2015. I was a bit naive and didn’t realize that deciding on which option I wanted to install would become a nightmare.

Installing Visual Studio 2015 for Desktop

I chose the option to install Visual Studio for Desktop, and thought that I would be able to use it the next day. That was not the case; I had to jump through numerous unnecessary hoops just to get it installed. Granted, I tried to install on my Windows 8.1 machine, but I didn’t realize that it would be such a big deal.

What the Installer Didn’t Tell Me Up Front

Now, I do not like to spend hours installing software, nor do I like the fact that you find out what else is needed afterwards. I started the installer after 12 AM, because I preferred to use my night to surf the internet for data. I have only 10GB of hard drive space—which sounds huge, but wasn’t.

I went to bed. I woke up excited like a little kid on Christmas. Boy, was I disappointed! The installer hadn’t finished and notified me that I needed to install two Windows Updates:

  • Windows8.1-KB2937592-x64
  • Windows8.1-KB2919355-x64

I installed them and restated the installer. It again took forever. I left my computer with the hopes that when I returned, everything should be fine. A couple hours later, I returned to my PC, only to find that the installer still did not finish! This was so far 10 hours+ into installing this package.

The installer notified me to install Team Foundation Server. As it was not part of the prerequisites, I got a bid frustrated, but still downloaded it at the link the installer supplied. Before I continue, here is more information regarding Team Foundation Server.

Team Foundation Server

Team Foundation Server provides source code management, reporting, requirements management, project management (for both agile software development and waterfall teams), automated builds, lab management, testing, and release management capabilities.

Team Foundation Server downloads:

Continuing the Desktop RC Install

I ran the installer for Team Foundation Server, and guess what? Its installer started complaining! Now, you have to remember, these updates and features weren’t properly listed.

What this installer complained about was the fact that I had SQL Server 2008 R2 installed on my machine and not a newer version. This is the version of SQL Server I work with for my work. I will not be getting a newer version of it soon.

Now, what I do not like about this whole effort was the fact that things were being forced onto me, such as Team Foundation Server, for example. I never had the need for it, and won’t any time soon.

I started jumping through the next wave of unassailable hoops, and decided to give up 15+ hours later.

I couldn’t believe it was so difficult just getting VS 2015 for Desktop installed. I couldn’t try another Visual Studio option because I had already used up my internet time for the month and had to wait for the next month to start.

During my waiting period, I heard that I rather should have installed the Community edition. I did not know that—who would, and on the page for the downloads, again, the prerequisites weren’t properly explained.

I tried again, this time not as excited, and just wanted to get this whole episode behind me.

Guess what? The Community edition installed perfectly—without any problems—seven hours later.

Now, I would like to ask why some of the options are made so impossible to install? Why is the disk space of Visual Studio just getting bigger and bigger? Finally, why isn’t there ever proper documentation quicker at hand instead of having to try to find hidden answers?


I hope that when you try to install Visual Studio 2015 on your Windows 8.1 machine that you won’t have as many issues as I had. Until next time, bye!

Hannes DuPreez
Hannes DuPreez
Ockert J. du Preez is a passionate coder and always willing to learn. He has written hundreds of developer articles over the years detailing his programming quests and adventures. He has written the following books: Visual Studio 2019 In-Depth (BpB Publications) JavaScript for Gurus (BpB Publications) He was the Technical Editor for Professional C++, 5th Edition (Wiley) He was a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for .NET (2008–2017).

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