How to Install .NET Framework 3.5 in Windows 8 or Windows 8.1?

It was not as smooth as I thought while installing the Windows 8.1 as a fresh OS in my laptop. Though the OS and other major software installation was smooth, but I faced lots of issues while installing some software's that need .NET Framework 3.5.


Did lots of analysis, tried various methods to install the framework but all failed. At the end I got an perfect solution which resolved the problem. Thought to share in case you faced similar, will help you.


As I formatted my hard drive and installed Windows 8.1 Preview as a fresh operating system, my system was completely blank and I had to install all the other softwares one by one. This is really a hectic job but it should not be that much problematic if the Windows installation provided me the .NET Framework 3.5 by default.


Yes, I faced hell lot of issues installing .NET Framework in Windows 8.1 as it was needed by some software like Live Essential 2012. Though I was trying to install it from various package, it was asking me all the time to install .NET Framework 3.5. I was shocked when I saw the system asking me to Install .NET Framework 3.5 before installing .NET Framework 3.5. Did I mentioned anything wrong here? No, I wrote it correct. The system was asking me to install .NET Framework 3.5 before continuing the installation of .NET Framework 3.5.


The things that I tried

Let’s discuss what are the things that I tried. If you want to know only the solution, just go to the next point else continue reading the struggle that I faced with this installation.


I had the .NET Framework 3.5 installer package available in my software collection already and first I tried to install from there when I saw the below screen when trying to install the Windows Live Essential 2012. This is common because the Live Essential need Framework 3.5 to execute. I know it already from my past experience with the software.


Framework issue 1

My struggle starts at this point when I saw the same screen when trying the install the package i.e. install .NET Framework 3.5 to install the .NET Framework 3.5 itself. Isn’t it too annoying when it placed itself in a deadlock? That’s a perfect example.


I tried it twice from the same installation package and when failed, tried to download the installer from online by clicking the “Download and install this feature” button from the wizard. My bad, that threw me an Error Code: 0x800F081F with a message stating “Windows couldn’t find required files”, that means, the installer package link has been moved to a different location.


In the next step, I downloaded a new installer package from Microsoft Download Centre, same happened. WTH!!! Now I tried downloading it from the MSDN subscriber page. Had a bad luck for sure. Got the same screen with the same error message. Tried searching online and then tweeted about the error and the “Windows Support Team” replied. They asked me to post a Forum thread stating the issue. OMG! They don’t have the answer too! I spent a huge time (it’s more than 3 hours I assume) to find out the issue and finally left the PC intact, posted a forum thread and went to sleep as it was late night in India already.


Install .NET Framework 3.5 from Windows features pageIn the morning I woke up early (generally I don’t) and tried installing the same again but didn’t get any clue what’s going wrong here. Didn’t get any proper solution in the forum too. I don’t think some one already faced and/or solved this issue. In the next step of my struggle, I tried to install it from the Control Panel –> Programs and Features –> Turn Windows features on or off –> .NET framework 3.5 (includes .NET 2.0 and 3.0), as shown here but that was also not a good try for me.


Tried searching in the Windows 8.1 installation media but didn’t find any redistributable package of the framework inside the ISO image. If it is require by few applications, why don’t Microsoft provide it with the Windows OS itself. This way the end user will not suffer a lot downloading and installing it. That’s a good thought but when I posted it in my Facebook page, got different replies from different people. That’s a long story. Will not cover that here but yes, it comes with the Windows package but not available as part of the installation by default. Read my next point to know more about it.


Final Solution

Finally, I found a solution in an MSDN article (shared by Suprotim Agarwal sir) which helped me to resolve the issue. When this kind of issue happens with the .NET Framework installer package, we can install it directly from the Windows installation media using the “Deployment Image Servicing and Management” tool, in short DISM command line tool,  that helps you to extract the image from the Windows installer package and install it in the system.


The .NET Framework package is available under the “sources\sxs” folder of the Windows installation media and if you try to find the framework installer, you will not get it there. You have to use the DISM tool for that.


To install the .NET Framework from the Windows installation media, open the “Command Prompt” in administrator mode and provide the following command:


DISM  /Online  /Enable-Feature  /FeatureName:NetFx3  /All  /LimitAccess  /Source:x:\sources\sxs


    • /Online targets the operating system you're running (instead of an offline Windows image).

    • /Enable-Feature /FeatureName:NetFx3 specifies that you want to enable the .NET Framework 3.5.

    • /All enables all parent features of the .NET Framework 3.5.

    • /LimitAccess prevents DISM from contacting Windows Update.

    • /Source specifies the location of the files needed to restore the feature (in this example, the x:\sources\sxs directory).

Once I provided the above command in the console window, it started installing it from the Windows Installation Media. In my case, it was the ISO image of the Windows 8.1 Preview mounted to a virtual DVD ROM.


My Question to Microsoft

Why .NET 2.0, .NET 3.0 and .NET 3.5 are not part of the standard Windows installationAfter struggling a lot, my simple question to the Microsoft Windows team who packed the installer: Why don’t you provide the said and required frameworks installed by default with the Windows installation? When I asked the same question to my friends available in Facebook, I got many stated that it would be a huge install and hence will take a lot of time. Someone stated that, it would need a big installation media and hence it would not be accommodated within a 3GB ISO image.


.NET Framework is not too huge. Max to max it will take 250-300 MB additional space if not already provided within the ISO image. If it comes with the default installation, people will not face such kind of issues that I faced while installing .NET Framework 3.5. As it is used by many applications till date, it would be a good idea to pack it as the standard installation of the OS.


The good news is: it comes by default with the Windows Installer package but the bad news is: it comes as an optional component. Hence, it will not make the installation media a bigger one as it is already there. Just the point is that, we don’t know (in general) that it comes by default with the package which we can directly install using the DISM tool without downloading additional setup from internet.


So, the question again comes: “Why .NET 2.0, .NET 3.0 and .NET 3.5 are not part of the standard Windows installation?” and I am still inside a dark big cloud until I get a suitable answer from Microsoft. I know, you will also like to get this answered from Microsoft and will be glad if they provide it by default with the Windows Installation.


It was a long post I know but I wanted to share with you my experience struggling to find the solution. It might take some amount of time reading the whole post without directly providing the solution but I know, it will be a good read for you to understand the whole thing. If you already faced the same issue, you will not have to do the same struggle and directly fix it by using the same steps with the DISM tool mentioned in the “Final Solution” section above.


If you had the same experience earlier before reading this post, share the same with us. Thanks to Suprotim Agarwal sir once again for helping me to resolve the issue. Also my sincere thanks to all those friends who helped me with various steps. I assume that this post will help you in future. Don’t forget to share it to your friends or network and help them to gain the same knowledge that we learnt.


  1. Good post Kunal. You had a tough time.

  2. Thanks for your post, Kunal. I'm an Internet Software Vendor and thinking about if it's a good decision to be a Microsoft technologies user.

  3. Hi Kunal, I tried what you said, but I am facing this issue : Use the "Source" option to specify the location of the files that are required t
    o restore the feature. For more information on specifying a source location, see Even though I am providing the source correctly.

    1. Hi Praveen,

      Did you change the "x:" to the drive letter of the Windows Installation DVD. Please provide me the whole command that you have used.

  4. your post was very useful to me :) thank you. In my case, the installation media was a bootable USB drive

  5. Thank you Mr.Kunal for this usefull information

  6. Same here. Tried exactly and everything you have suggested but still facing deadend. I have found a video that shows the same solution as here but with a twist. He disables the ethernet port!
    I tried that but windows doesn't let me disable it..
    Any ideas?

  7. I will try to reinstall the ehternet port driver (which I am curious where can I find) so I can disable it and try reinstall framework...
    Btw here is the video I am talking about:

  8. btw here is the video I am talking about:

  9. Thank you. I also had faced the problem and cannot install such softwares that needed .net 3.5. I will try this method.

  10. Thank you very much indeed. I had taken me half day to install it over and over with a couple of methods I got through the internet websites, but just failed.. Extremely frustrating.. And now, it only took me 20 seconds to get it done smoothly thanks to this post. God bless you, Kunal !

  11. Voila ! ..After it had taken me half a day to try it with many methods I got through internet websites, installing that damn NetFramework 3.5 over and over..only to get failed..Now, with this wonderful info from Kunal, it took me 20 seconds to have it installed smoothly.. Thanks a sea again Kunal. We really need guys like you to help unknown ppl who are getting frustrated with stupid stuffs like that.

  12. Have ? I done just what you said above typed in as you said above keep getting same response Featurename option is unknown now what I have windows 8.1

    1. Do you have the complete installation media of your Windows 8.1 (DVD)?

  13. Can anyone please upload their sxs folder file for windows 8.1 x64? :( my DVD got corrupted. please help. thanks a lot

  14. I'm facing the same problem, but my dism command is not working. It does not recognize the enable-feature and source options. In fact, the error log states that "source option is not recognized" and (surprise!) "you must use 'source' option to inform the path". I'm pretty helpless here.

    1. Did you specify the command properly? Here is that for you once again:
      DISM /Online /Enable-Feature /FeatureName:NetFx3 /All /LimitAccess /Source:x:\sources\sxs

      Make sure to change the Drive Letter properly. Here I used "x" drive.

    2. Yes, I did specify it properly. It keeps saying that /Source is an unknown option and asking me to use the /Source option.

      We just decided to downgrade my machine to Windows 7. Thanks for your attention.

  15. I kept getting similar messages and think it has to do with .Net 4 Client Profile and Extended already being installed. Try it again with no other .Net versions on the machine. That's what finally worked for me.


  17. its very helpful, thanks a lot mate

    1. Glad to know that, it helped you. Thanks for sharing the feedback.

  18. Thanks a lot...It works for me...

  19. Thanks a lot...It works for me as well.


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