Windows 8 and .NET 3.5… You are beaten

Windows is a love hate relationship for almost everyone that works in any tech industry. When it works, it works perfectly but when something is broken, it can drain productivity for days. One such occurrence that I have run into recently was with trying to install .NET 3.5 on Microsoft Surface tablets running Windows 8. A program that a company I work for is built to run on any version of Windows but does need .NET 2.0, 3.5 and 4.0 installed to function.

Up until Windows 8, you would normally download the 3 different .NET versions from Microsoft’s Windows Update website and install them as separate packages (.msi or .exe). Windows 8 changed the way components like .NET are installed and now, you just need to activate them. This is great if it works however having 116 Microsoft Surface tablets that were waiting to be deployed and being unable to activate .NET 3.5 posed a large challenge.

After searching for 3 days by one of my coworkers and about two for myself we found four different options that seemed to be working for 90% of the people that had the same issue we were experiencing. But none worked for us.

After more searching I came across a utility that looked promising. The Microsoft.NET Framework 3.5 Offline Installer developed by AskVG “Cedric Poottaren” claimed to be able to install .NET 3.5 without having to access Microsoft’s Windows Update Servers. You do need to have a Windows 8 Installation disc for this method and because this was a Windows tablet there is no DVD drive I had to copy the files from the disc to a USB drive. I would suggest using a USB 3.0 drive as it will make the install go about 4x faster.

.NET 3.5 Offline Installer

This software will work in both 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) versions of Windows 8. You’ll need to run the software with Administrator privileges by right-click on the program icon and select “Run as Administrator” option. Its required because the method only works if the user has Administrator privileges.

  1. Download Microsoft.NET Framework 3.5 Offline Installer
  2. Insert the Windows 8 DVD into your drive
  3. Run Microsoft.NET Framework 3.5 Offline Installer as an Administrator
  4. Under Installation Settings select D:\ as Source Drive (or whatever drive it is loaded into
  5. Under Installation Source make sure it reads D:\sources\sxs
  6. Press Start Installation

On a USB DVD Drive this took about 5 minutes to complete and after doing it a couple times I tested it with a USB 3.0 drive and it took about 15 seconds. It did finish and say An error occurred while installing Microsoft.NET Framework 3.5. Please verify the disk and installation source path when trying again. Ignore this.


  1. Navigate to Control Panel / ProgramsTurn Windows features on or off
  2. Tick the box next to .NET Framework 3.5 (includes .NET 2.0 and 3.0)
  3. Click OK
  4. Click Download files from Windows Update

Once all the files are downloaded it will apply changes and then if you head back into Turn Windows features on or off you will see the box is ticked with a black square inside of it.