Visual Studio 2012/2013 Express offline installation/activation

All we need is an easy explanation of the problem, so here it is.

One of my computers is not connected to the internet. Right now it has Visual Studio 2008 Express installed which doesn’t require an internet connection at all. Can I install and activate Visual Studio 2012/2013 Express without internet connection?

How to solve :

I know you bored from this bug, So we are here to help you! Take a deep breath and look at the explanation of your problem. We have many solutions to this problem, But we recommend you to use the first method because it is tested & true method that will 100% work for you.

Method 1

You can get offline installers for VS2013 Express easily from MS (example), but the Express versions require an Internet connection to re-activate every so often to extend the “trial” mode they run in.

The purchased versions (Std, Pro, etc.) don’t.

I can’t find any definitive MS sources to confirm this right now, but see this thread and this thread over on Social.MSDN where they say similar:

I’ve just been on the phone to MPN and MSDN (back and forth a few times) and eventually the MPN guy told me he’d found some internal emails which indicate the new MPN licensing model for Visual Studio 2013 requires you to sign-in every 30 days (or 90 days?) to keep the product active. Apparently signing out and in will extend the “trial period” by a further 90 days each time you do it, for as long as you have a current MPN/MSDN subscription.

Method 2

For at least Visual Studio 2015 & 2017 (Preview) Express which would be the current choices for most:

  1. Create a Visual Studio offline installation package with for example these flags: vs_community.exe --layout e:\vs2017offline --lang en-US
  2. Copy the installation folder to the offline computer
  3. Install the certificates from the Certificates subfolder! (with admin rights – to local machine – no password)
  4. Activate Visual Studio Express on a computer that has access to internet.
  5. Copy %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\VSCommon\OnlineLicensing from that computer to the offline computer (actually I tested by copying the whole VSCommon folder).

More detailed installation instructions

For the activation part I’m echoing this answer.

Tested this on both VS 2015 & 2017 Preview. Haven’t tested it on 2012/2013 though.

Method 3

As far as I know, there is no hack to permanently and offline enable Visual Studio 2012/2013 Express.
However, I list below some workarounds to the problem.

You might prefer Visual Studio Community 2013 to Express, because it supports the plugins
in the Visual Studio Gallery, making this edition more useful than Visual Studio Express which cannot use extensions. Both versions use identical methods of activation, and there are rumors that
Community will replace Express in the future.

Method 1 : Using a virtual machine

If you have a spare Windows serial number, you can construct a Windows virtual machine
on a host computer that has Internet connection.
Install Visual Studio Express/Community and permanently enable it using your Microsoft Live account.

You now have a portable installation of Visual Studio Express/Community that you can take with you
wherever you go.

Method 2 : Using Sandboxie

You could use Sandboxie just as you would a virtual machine, as a much more lightweight method.
Sandboxie redirects all disk and registry updates of sandboxed programs to its own files,
in a manner that is entirely transparent to these programs.

These disk and registry updates are placed by default in the folder
C:\Sandbox\<user>\<sandbox>, so one can in effect copy them from one computer to another.

You would therefore run the installation of Visual Studio and enable it inside the sandbox,
thus capturing all modifications done by it to the disk and the registry.

Since in your case Visual Studio Express is already installed, it might be safer to uninstall
it first on the target computer using an uninstaller such as
Revo Uninstaller Freeware (with careful attention before deleting).
As a precaution, take a system restore point before starting or, even better,
a backup disk image of the system drive.

The disadvantage of this method is that it forces running Visual Studio from the sandbox,
thus by default capturing also all your work inside the sandbox.
The Sandboxie solution is to exclude the source folders from the sandbox.

Note: Use and implement method 1 because this method fully tested our system.
Thank you 🙂

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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