Department of InformatiX
Microsoft .NET Micro Framework Tools & Resources

.NET Micro Framework 4.3 on Visual Studio 2010

Due to unfriendly policies and IT staff at Newcastle University, I had to figure out how to make .NET Micro Framework 4.3 working in Visual Studio 2010. For the case someone else ends up in the same unfortunate position, here are some notes on how to do it.

Terms & Conditions:

The problem that is not obvious is that the 4.2 version of .NET Micro Framework does not detect the hardware using WinUSB drivers and legacy drivers are on newer 64-bit Windows nasty. The hardware in question was FEZ Spider from GHI Electronics.

Warning: the following guide is unsupported, untested, and without a license for Visual Studio 2012, likely illegal. If you have any option to use Visual Studio 2013, then both the modified installer from last year's article and the beta version of .NET Micro Framework are much more stable and reliable solution (the beta one even integrates via VSIX only).


These steps are written for 64-bit system and assumes Visual Studio to be installed in its default location on C: drive.

  1. Make sure .NET Framework 2.0 (resp 3.5) is installed on the computer. No Visual Studio since version 2010 ensures this during installation.

  2. If Visual Studio 2012 is not installed, the following assemblies will be needed:

    • Microsoft.VisualSutdio.AppDesigner.dll
    • Microsoft.VisualStudio.Shell.11.0.dll
    • Microsoft.VisualStudio.Shell.Immutable.11.0.dll
    • Microsoft.VSDesigner.dll

    These can be obtained from an installation of Visual Studio 2012 (having isolated shell is enough). Assemblies are located in the GAC, usually at C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\assembly\GAC_MSIL.

    On the target computer, they either have to be also registered in GAC, or added to the PrivateAssemblies folder of Visual Studio 2010, usually at C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\PrivateAssemblies.

  3. Enable the installation of .NET Micro Framework 4.3: MF43onVS2010-allow.reg (2 kB)
    These registry entries trick the installer into thinking the Visual Studio 2012 is installed and in the folder where Visual Studio 2010 is.

  4. Use the official release to install the .NET Micro Framework SDK 4.3 (RTM QFE1).

  5. Install .NET Micro Framework 4.3 into Visual Studio 2010:  MF43onVS2010-install.reg (23 kB)
    These registry entries were created by the installator in previous step for Visual Studio 2012, the file contains the same for Visual Studio 2010.

  6. If you had Visual Studio 2012 installed, restore its location information back:  MF43onVS2010-restore.reg (2 kB)

.NET Gadgeteer

The .NET Gadgeteer traditionally supports all Visual Studio versions since 2010, so just install the official release, which should be at least of version 2.43.900.

If you also need to remotely deploy the GHI SDK, individual MSI files can be extracted from their installer. The most simple way to do this would be to use the WiX Toolset:

  1. From the link above download the binaries archive.

  2. Extract it wherever you like.

  3. Run the command line and navigate to the folder you have extracted it to.

  4. For obtaining the files, use dark.exe. For example:
    dark "I:\Desktop\NETMF and Gadgeteer Package 2014 R5.exe" -x Extracted

    Tip: to enter file path into command line, you can drag & drop the file there.

  5. In the same folder, the Extracted folder is created with AttachedContainer subfolder, which contains the desired files.

An alternative way without the WiX Toolset would be to start the installation and find the MSI files in the newest folder in %TEMP%.

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