VSTO & .NET & Excel

July 26, 2008

VS 2008, Excel 2003 on Windows XP

Filed under: .NET & Excel, COM Add-ins — Dennis M Wallentin @ 1:18 pm

Recently I faced a situation where I created a managed COM add-in, based on the Shared Add-in template in VS 2008, which didn’t work at all. The configuration I work with is:

  • Windows XP with SP-3 
  • Office 2003 with SP-3
  • VS 2008

I had no issue to create the managed COM add-in but when I debugged it didn’t work as expected. All the entries in the Windows registry seemed to be OK but it didn’t show up in the dialog for COM add-ins in Excel 2003. In addition, no error messages appeared so it was a ‘silent’ error.

The solution to the issue is to install the KB908002 fix. However, if we run the exe package it first check to see if VS 2005 is installed or not. To overcome this process we need to decompile the exe package and then install the MSI package on its own.

I have made the MSI package available for download here.

Have anyone else experienced any issue with VS 2008?

Kind regards,



  1. Hi Dennis!
    I have not use VS2008 to write a managed com addin as yet, but I’m disapointed to hear the news! Wouldn’t it be nice if, just for once, somthing worked right out of the box! Oh well I guess thats the way it is!
    Hope your well

    Comment by Ross — July 28, 2008 @ 5:14 pm

  2. Ross,

    Thanks for stoping by 🙂
    I’m still very busy with a project so I have little time to explore interesting stuff…

    I believe that MSFT primary target is to get the latest versions of VS.NET, Office, SQL Server etc to work well on the Vista platform.

    In my experience VS 2008, Office 2007 works very good on the Vista platform. Windows XP and earlier versions of Office seems to have less attention.

    At present I’m trying to figure out why VS 2008 don’t work well with Office XP on Windows XP. If I find a solution I will make a blogpost about it.

    I hope that the upcoming SP-1 of VS 2008 will resolve this issue as well as other issues too.

    Take care and all the best,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — July 28, 2008 @ 11:15 pm

  3. Hi Dennis,

    Thanks for this – I am having exactly the same problem with vs2008 and office xp add-in.

    But after installing the msi I still can’t access the appropriate pre req in the setup projects pre req list.

    Is there anything else I need to do to get to it?


    Comment by Nick — September 29, 2008 @ 7:42 am

  4. Nick,

    The requested prerequisites are:
    .NET Framework 2.0 or later
    Office XP PIAs

    and I guess it’s the PIAs You have trouble with. To fix it You can create Your own bootstrapper, i.e. package, and make it available in the dialog prerequisites.

    You can download the Bootstrapper Manifest generator to create the package:

    Kind regards,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — September 29, 2008 @ 12:14 pm

  5. Thanks heaps for you input Dennis.

    I was already including the relevant (being outlook) XP PIAs in the GAC during the setup project install.

    I’ve used the Bootstrapper tool to generate a package to install extensibilitymsm.msi and lockbackregkey.msi along with the addin msi.

    This still isn’t working for me though. I can’t get the add in to appear in the com add-ins list at all, it’s not in disabled items either.

    I also tried bootstrapping the relevant PIA’s with the same result. I’m 99.9% sure all pre req’s are met and registry values are being set correctly. Oh well, I’ll keep trying.

    Comment by Nick — September 30, 2008 @ 5:25 am

  6. Nick,

    OK, how is the add-in installed, i.e. only to the person that install it or to everyone who use the computer? Add-ins installed to everyone does not show up in the COM add-in dialog.

    If this does not help You out You can send me the solution allowing me to take a closer look.

    Kind regards,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — September 30, 2008 @ 11:33 am

  7. Hi Dennis,
    Thanks again. Yeah it was setup to install only for the user running the install.

    I’m at a client site and am thinking it’s definitely related to their setup. Some more investigation to do, but should be right I think.

    Thanks heaps for your timely responses.

    Comment by Nick — October 1, 2008 @ 6:28 am

  8. You’re welcome.

    Kind regards,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — October 1, 2008 @ 5:06 pm

  9. i am working with Excel Addins I want to create SETUP for Visula studiao 2008 and Excel 2003.
    Can you give the steps for creatin g setup

    Comment by K Mehar — December 12, 2008 @ 3:22 pm

  10. Hi,
    I have a page with online resources including setups etc:


    Kind regards,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — December 14, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

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