Problems running .Net 2.0 programs on Windows 8

Unlike Windows 7,  a Windows 8 install does not always include .Net 3.X and .Net 2.X versions. I’ve upgraded a Windows 7 PC which already had the older versions of the .Net frameworks installed and the frameworks were preserved in Windows 8 but on a fresh install to a PC only .Net 4.5 was included.

Since .Net 2.0 is not always present on Windows 8, this makes it difficult to know whether older programs will run successfully. It turns out that support for .Net 2.0 and 3.5 is an optional part of Windows 8. Quite why they’re optional I don’t know. However, if you are trying to run an older program on Windows 8 and as soon as you try to run it, Windows says “XXX has stopped working”, the first thing I’d recommend checking is whether .Net 2.0 and 3.5 are included.

With earlier versions of Windows, you’d have to manually download and install the frameworks but Windows 8 includes a neat way of adding features like the .Net framework. For those unfamiliar with Windows 8 (which included me), finding the features dialog took some searching. Here’s how to find the dialog and turn on support for the older .Net 2.0 and .Net 3.5 frameworks:

1. Show the Windows 8 charms (a set of buttons down the right hand edge of the screen), by moving your mouse cursor into the very top right corner of the screen as shown in the following picture:


I must say this way of bringing up the charms didn’t feel very intuitive, especially as I had to move the mouse right to the very top of the screen rather than just to the right where the actual charms buttons appear.

2. Press the Search charm button to bring up the Search panel. Then click on the Settings button and type in Windows Features to the search box:


Windows will then show the Settings items matching “windows Features” on the left of the screen.

3. Click on the Turn Windows Features On and Off button:


Windows will then show the Windows Features dialog.

4. In the Windows Features dialog, make sure that the .Net Framework 3.5 (includes .Net 2.0 and 3.0) option is checked:


5. Then click OK.

Windows 8 will then install the required files. At the end of the install, a reboot may be required. After the reboot, older programs needing .Net 2.0 or 3.0 etc. should run OK.

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