Problems With Installing SQL Server 2008 Management Studio Not Necessarily The Fault of SQL 2005 Express Tools

I recently took far more time than I expected to install SQL 2008 Developer Edition on my development laptop.  I committed to the process before I realized that the media was at my corporate office 1 hour away. 

“No problem” I said to myself, “I’ll just download the .iso from MSDN and burn a quick DVD.”

Two hours later the download had completed.  Not paying attention to the details, I slipped a blank DVD into the drive on my laptop and in 15 minutes I had an ISO file on a now (almost) worthless DVD.  I did not burn the image, but merely copied the .iso; I forgot that Nero was installed on my development workstation.


Well, the DVD did serve one purpose – I was able to load the ISO from the DVD onto the workstation, then burn the .iso back to a new DVD and then kicked off the installation process on my laptop.

Many of you have installed SQL 2008 by now, and realize that it is a slightly longer and more involved process than the installation of SQL 2005.  Just as 2005 was more involved than 2000 in regards to installation.  Installing the Microsoft .net 3.5 Framework seems to take forever as does the installation support files.  Once that is done you step through the obligatory screens to set up which features you want installed, where to install them, and what accounts they run under.  After 30 minutes or so I’ve now reached a point where I am just about to proceed with the installation and receive a fail message due to “SQL 2005 Express Support Tools” needing to be uninstalled before continuing.  What really should be stated is “you must abandon all work, save for the .net Framework install, because Houston there is a problem.

I followed two paths on my workaround.  I immediately attempted to uninstall these phantom tools, figuring they were a subcomponent of the SQL 2005 instance I have on my laptop.  I could not launch the install wizard for 2005, because the install wizard for 2008 was running.  Therefore, though it pained me greatly, I canceled my 2008 installation.  I then attempted to go through the process of altering my SQL 2005 installation only to realize that these tools were not only not a subcomponent of my SQL 2005 instance, but were also apparently not installed on my laptop that I could see.

That led to workflow two: undaunted, okay, plenty full of daunt, I kicked off the install process for SQL 2008 once again and went through all steps as I had the first time, received the same error, retreated to the features selection form, and removed the management tools from items selected to install.  The installation completed successfully.

Now the question remained: “What could be interpreted as a SQL 2005 Express Tool?”  After some review of my laptop I realized I had an out-dated version of Red-Gate’s SQL Prompt installed.  I figured it was worth a shot to first update SQL Prompt and then attempt to install SQL 2008 Management Studio.  If failure occurred again I would uninstall SQL Prompt and try the installation out one more time.  I love SQL Prompt.  It’s made me a truly lazy coder and I don’t mind one bit.  It would pain me to have to uninstall it so I was banking on the upgrade to SQL Prompt 3.9.  I ran through the upgrade, launched the SQL 2008 install wizard via the Control Panel/Update Programs process, selected to add Management Studio to my existing SQL 2008 instance and voilà, success!

So, as is typical with Microsoft, you can not always take error messages at face value.  When encountering this error message when attempting to install Management Studio, it may just be out-of-date third-party SQL Server tools that need to be brought current, more than phantom SQL 2005 Express Tools.