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SQL Server Management Studio Express Problem

Can't Install Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Management Studio Express

You are attempting to install SQL 2008 Management Studio Express. You get a compatibility warning: "This program has known compatibility issues"

This page fragment below was originally posted by Graham O'Neale, to whom many thanks for posting. The original is to be found at I reproduce it below because web pages have a way of going away. Graham's page has helped quite a few of us past this infuriating proble with installing SSMSE.

(Thanks to Graham O'Neale for the info below. See original address of posting above.)

Can't Install Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Management Studio Express

Ok, I’m angry, and two hours of my time has gone that I will never get back.

I’ve just spent the morning trying to get Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express + Management Studio installed after a PC format. I’m running Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate (x64) and all files in question below were downloaded via the Microsoft download portal site.

Let me give you the low down of the problem I encountered, my experience and what I had to do to overcome it. If you’ve came from a Google link, yes hopefully this post will save you if you are having problems installing Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Management Studio Express.


Simply put, SQL Server 2008 Management Studio Express WILL NOT INSTALL with my SQL Server 2008 Express edition install.
Let me show my download process and files involved in this fun adventure:

Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Express
SQLEXPR_x64_ENU.exe 84,498 MB

I selected this package to download as I wanted to download the lightest-weight package available which installs the database services of SQL Server 2008 64-Bit Express.

Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Management Studio Express
SQLManagementStudio_x64_ENU.exe 180,712 MB

I chose to download the SQL Server 2008 Management Studio Express tool as a separate download just in case I ever needed the database services standalone without the management studio etc. I realise there is a SQL Server 2008 Express with Tools available to download but it wasn’t the most appropriate for me.

So after having both packages downloaded, in my matching 64-bit edition I proceeded to install SQL Server 2008 Express (SQLEXPR_x64_ENU.exe). When I did I received a message prompted from Windows 7 which stated I needed to download the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 (SP1) before using SQL Server 2008:

Based on that feedback, I stopped at that point to download SP1 to ensure compatibility, after a few minutes of digging around Microsoft’s download portal, I found this link:

Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Express Edition Service Pack 1
SQLEXPR_x64_ENU.exe 106,796 MB

Notice something familar?? That’s right the filename matches the original SQL Server 2008 Express install filename, SQLEXPR_x64_ENU.exe! WHAT THE!

So I paused, thought, (actually there was a lot more swearing involved) and all that I could deduce was going on was that by Microsoft stating this is the Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Express Edition Service Pack 1, what they meant was this is Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Express Edition WITH Service Pack 1. I still do not know if this is true. But I installed this version and renamed it as SP1_SQLEXPR_x64_ENU.exe.


Now for the installs! I ran the SP1_SQLEXPR_x64_ENU.exe install package, I installed all options I required, including database services and client connectivity components. So that was confusion #1, who knows if it installed with the Service Pack 1 or not, there was no mention, so I have no idea, but could probably run a verison check as a SQL query if I was concerned.

Now on to the Management Studio. This is easy, straight forward, it’s just the one download SQLManagementStudio_x64_ENU.exe and could present no problems, SURELY, even thought it comes in at ~180MB; ~74MB larger than the Database Services itself, I won’t let that bother me. Once the installer launched, I clicked “Installation” proceeded through the standard SQL installer ready to select “Management Studio” when “Feature Select” prompts me too.

Then we arrived at the step, and nothing, no option for “Management Studio – Basic“, nothing.
In fact, the whole installer described in text like I was adding features to the database services, geared up completely like a “add/remove components” option on the SQL Server 2008 Express install!

So after trying many things, reboots, installing my non “SP1_” .exe file, then trying SQLManagementStudio_x64_ENU.exe again, no luck. I had downloaded the Management Studio tool, and I simply, could not install the management studio. 180MB, with a gazillion wizards of dependency and rule checking and NOT ONE prompt guiding me regarding what I should do, if my system was configured incorrectly to install, or what.

So yes, as I build to the conclusion and figure out a way around it, in a long shot of hope, I uninstalled everything, all instances and components relating to SQL Server 2008 Express and thought perhaps SQLManagementStudio_x64_ENU.exe somehow crazily, despite all text on the download links stating it is the standalone management studio, that infact it isn’t.

Perhaps it’s SQL Server 2008 Express WITH Management Studio and for some reason it simply does not install separately. So I tried that, I progressed, and what it did prompt me with was actually different to what I had thought, quite a shock. At “Feature Selection” was FINALLY the option to select “Management Studio – Basic“, but not with database services, just management studio!


So that’s the logic, install everything backwards:

First the SQLManagementStudio_x64_ENU.exe to install your tools, and then SQLEXPR_x64_ENU.exe to install your database services. Or perhaps if you are happy with an all in one package, go for this guy – Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Express with Tools it’ll probably save you a lifetime of headaches. Don’t try to be tricky like me and get separate installs.


Some times things can be made a little too intuitive for their own good to the point systems trip over themselves.
But hopefully although I’ve wasted another half an hour on this blog post, I have saved many people around the globe their valuable time.


Added 7/5/2011