Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 in Windows 2000

Microsoft don’t support using .NET 3.5 in Windows 2000, which is particularly annoying, especially if, like me, you have a client who has 8 out of 12 PCs still using Windows 2000.

So, I decided to have a go and see if I could find any way of doing it. This is completely unsupported, and if it breaks anything, don’t blame me, but it is actually fairly straightforward and it seems to work fine to me (although I doubt it works with things like WPF, but if anyone tries it, please leave a comment to say how it goes)…

  1. Make sure you have Windows 2000 SP4 installed
  2. You may need to install KB 835732 before step 3
  3. Install .NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack 1

Now, there are 2 ways of continuing. Either you can copy over all the .NET 3.5 assemblies (you’ll have them on a .NET 3.5 PC in the Program Files\Reference Assemblies\Microsoft\Framework\v3.5 folder). You can either dump them in the application folder or probably register them in the GAC (not tried it, but it should work).

Alternatively, try running your application. You will probably get a load of AssemblyReferenceFailedExceptions. Copy in the required DLL from the above folder into your application folder for each one.

It should all work now!

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22 Responses to “Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 in Windows 2000”

  1. […] mentioned earlier how to install .NET framework 3.5  in Windows 2000.  I have been testing this on 7 Windows 2000 […]

  2. kakashi says:

    hey, im a software developer and a computer savy, but i just really dont understand the explination about how to intall the net framework on windows 2000, if you could elaborate a bit more i would really love it.

  3. […] had a comment that my previous post explaining how to install .NET 3.5 in Windows 2000 wasn’t very clear, so I’ll try to […]

  4. Hi! I like your srticle and I would like very much to read some more information on this issue. Will you post some more?

  5. Jack says:

    Windows 2000 is outdated and should be abolished. Plz come up with some new stuff rather than sticking to old 2000 and its woes.

    • wizzard says:

      Actually, the point was that even though Windows 2000 is pretty old, it can handle most of the stuff that .NET 3.5 will do, which means that you can use .NET 3.5 (fairly new stuff) on it. I’m sorry if you don’t like me posting entries about this, but frankly it is the most popular topic in terms of readership and if you don’t like it, no one is asking you to read it. I have plenty of other blog posts on other topics that you can read if you want.

  6. Alex says:

    Hi thanks,

    we use a Windows 2000 Server Terminalservices for special Insurance calculating software (around 30 different products) .. in Windows 2000 Terminalservices is FREE … so it saved us around 30000 EURO licensing fees … now some programs are using NET 3.5 , so you see it is a topic which MATTERS … I will try to save that licensing fee for my company !

    Thanks for your TOPIC

  7. Ylper says:

    I’m using .Net 3.5 mostly for Linq and all the extension methods it provides. Thanks to your post it looks like my program is running well on a Win2k virtual machine (my Win2k VM requires like 1/3 of the memory my XP VM does, so I’m quite happy as I can run more in parallel for my tests).

  8. Jérôme Marcotty says:

    Hi thanks,

    i’ve developped an application on the framework 3.5. But the client ask me to make it runnable on windows 2000.
    Everything works fine with a little batch file to add all the 3.5 dll to the GAC.
    The only library that doesn’t work is SMDiagnistic. I don’t find a way to make it works.
    But it was not a big deal !

    Thanks again for your topic.

  9. Charlie says:

    Thanks, i hate it when im asked for “rent” money to upgrade – and maybe, just maybe NET 4 will work also 😀 and maybe direct x 11 😀

    you MIGHT be able to place all the assemblies in the Common files folder…. beats copying them all into every application folder. the .NET folder may be in the PATHS setting (need a pc with .net on it) to see, type CMD on RUN on Start menu, then type SET… so add them to the Path, or place them in a folder already in the paths.

    also, you do suggest copying from a computer with NET 3.5 on it already, well, if you dont have one, i recommend downloading the NET 3.5 SP1 full download (about 231MB) * and opening it with IZarc (free) or winzip and put the files your program asks for in the directory – or all of them you see so you have no problems in future…
    *(i am still downloading)

  10. Charlie says:

    i did get the 3.5sp1 file and it contains 2.0 3.0 and 3.5 and many of the files are *.msp a few are *.msi eg: Netfx20a_x86.msi and WPF2_32.msp and there is x86, x64 and ia64 versions.


  11. Charlie says:

    the NET 4 file i cannot open with izarc but maybe with another program…

  12. Charlie says:

    i guess i am providing the more details people have asked for, the moderator probably Wizz might have to combine all my messages.

    ideally after running the 3.5 update and it sits on the error-windows 2000, we need a program to actually install all the files while it has them extracted!
    well i have done the 3.0 folder, i moved all the files containing 64 so i dont install the wrong ones, if you have a 64 computer there are files that have nothing and 32 and 64, i am not sure if you need the nothing ones, do them first then the 64’s.

    do note that i dont think you can uninstall these updates… but interestingly i do see “Microsoft .Net Framework 3.0 Service Pack 2” in my add/remove programs……

    i first did the MSI files, then the MSP files and i got no error except with WPF_Other_32.msp where it says i need sufficient privileges to install system services.

    there is subfolder beside the subfolders with 20,30,35 called msp and it contains the cumulative updates for 2.0 (which you have probably done already) and 3.0 which you probably need to go to the MS site and install individually see KB948610 as i cannot make sense of the CAB files within the update.

  13. Charlie says:

    i checked the individual items and they were made before service pack 2. so no need to chase up on this cumulative update thing…

    a side note if there is a problem with installing programs that require you to not have windows 2000 (perhaps because of .net), there is a MS tool that you can use to change the prerequisites of a MSI file or maybe other files, and that is Orca, also called Windows Installer 3.0 Table Editor (which is with some dev kit)

  14. Charlie says:

    and the dot net 3.5 i cant do so have to do it your way 🙂
    the files are not individual, selecting vs_setup.msi (3.5sp1) tells me to run setup.exe and setup dont want 2k. the MSI file is editable by orca and there is alot of stuff in it…


  15. Charlie says:

    firstly to get vs_setup, i extracted Netfx35_x86 (i dont think this is for 64bit)

    in orca i found under the CustomAction table an Action called CA_BlockDirectInstall_MSI .. .. .. so i cut it out then saved the file.
    and it works.

    i first got orca to try to install virtualbox (which didnt work) but downloading that kit paid off afterall!
    so now i have .NET framework 3.5 SP1 and elsewhere i have the Hotfix for .NET framework in add/Remove.

    now for NET4 and direct X 10/11 – which may actually have needed .NET.

  16. Charlie says:

    i omitted why orca could help install virtual box. and that was to remove the operating system limit!!

  17. Charlie says:

    i dunno how to run the net 4 setup it may be compiled for 64bit even tho its for both systems. might try the client instead.

    also a 2000 to XP wrapper may be needed for other programs to run. which may work for Paint.NET which was my .net test program!

  18. Charlie says:

    the .net installer runs on the XP machine but not on the 2000 machine. the error is “is not a valid win32 application” (and the setup inside it) so it looks like this is as far as i can get unless maybe i can contact the wrapper guy to see if his things can fix it.

  19. Charlie says:

    i started a forum page about using the installers to install on 2k so i dont have to spam this man’s blog:


  20. Eric D L says:

    Thanks for all that Charlie, but the forum page you posted is down. Any chance of re-uping it elsewhere?

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