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Davide Mauri

A place for my thoughts and experiences the Microsoft Data Platform

SQL Server 2008 R2 Installation and the Phantom of SQL Server 2005 Express

Today I’ve happy started to install SQL Server 2008R2 on my development machine, which has this software installed

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard
  • SQL Server 2008 SP1 CU5
  • Visual Studio 2008 SP1
  • BOL October 2009
  • AdventuresWorks2008 Databases SR4
  • Visual Studio 2010 RTM

So, all the basic standard stuff.

SQL Server 2008 R2 installation went smooth ‘till somewhere in the middle, where the rule engine checks that software pre-requisite are satisfied before starting to copy files.

Here I had this @][@@[?!?! error:

“The SQL Server 2005 Express Tools are installed. To continue, remove the SQL Server 2005 Express Tools.”

Fun enough, I don’t have and I’ve never had SQL Server 2005 Express on my machine.

Armed with patience I analyzed the install log here

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\100\Setup Bootstrap\Log\yyyymmdd_hhmmss\Detail.txt

and I’ve found that the rule “Sql2005SsmsExpressFacet” is the one in charge of this check and it look for existance of the registry key

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Tools\ShellSEM (on x86)

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Tools\ShellSEM (on x64)

In my registry I’ve found that key existsing, due to the installation of the uber-cool Red-Gate SQL Search.

I removed the registry key and here it is! SQL Server 2008 R2 is installing while I’m writing this post.

A note to Microsoft: can you please add more detailed information on the setup while such error happens. Just saying “you have SQL Server 2005 Express installed” is not enough. Please show us what the rule look for and why it has failed directly in the Detailed Report, so that we don’t have to spend time to look for the needle in the logs. Thanks! :)


I did a side-by-side installation with the existing SQL Server 2008 instance.

Published Tuesday, May 4, 2010 10:44 AM by Davide Mauri
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Charles Proctor said:

Had the same problem. Ditto on the MS "more detailed information".

Thanks for the fix!

May 4, 2010 8:48 AM

daveballantyne said:

May 5, 2010 2:06 AM

merrillaldrich said:

Same issue on my machine. Thanks for this tip!

May 26, 2010 2:08 PM

amemon said:

Thank you for sharing. It worked for me

September 29, 2010 9:21 AM

finally an answer said:

thanks, pulling my hair out - if i had hair

December 8, 2010 3:03 PM

Jay said:

Yes, it worked. Thanks for saving hours my time to figure it out.

March 24, 2011 10:13 AM

Simon said:

Thank you sir, #1 Google search result for good reason, fixed it for me too

April 20, 2011 2:21 PM

Andrew said:

Thx bro. I found this info on many other sites, but no one mention the x64 system option.

July 10, 2011 8:06 AM

Andy McMullan said:

Thanks for this - saved me a lot of hassle.  (In my case it was a SQL intellisense plugin, but just uninstalling it wasn't enough - I had to remove the ShellSEM registry key)

May 9, 2012 9:17 AM

abx said:


May 31, 2018 11:06 PM

dongdong8 said:



June 29, 2018 3:30 AM

linying123 said:


July 16, 2018 8:40 PM

dongdong8 said:



July 23, 2018 11:40 PM

yaoxuemei said:


August 15, 2018 2:15 AM

chenjinyan said:


August 22, 2018 11:13 PM

shenyuhang said:


August 23, 2018 10:29 PM

chenlixiang said:



September 18, 2018 10:07 PM

chenjinyan said:



October 9, 2018 6:50 PM

chenqiuying said:


October 10, 2018 6:33 PM

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About Davide Mauri

Director of Software Development & Cloud Infrastructure @ Sensoria, an innovative smart garments and wearable company. After more than 15 year playing with the Microsoft Data Platform, with a specific focus on High Performance databases, Business Intelligence, Data Science and Data Architectures, he's now applying all his skills to IoT, defining architectures to crunch numbers, create nice user experiences and provide meaningful insights, all leveraging Microsoft Azure cloud. MVP on Data Platform since 2006 he has a very strong background development and love both the ER model and OO principles. He is also a fan of Agile Methodology and Automation, which he tries to apply everywhere he can, to make sure that "people think, machines do".

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