Is it Really That Hard to get .Net Framework 3.5 on Windows Mobile 6.5 Device?

I was just going off about this on twitter and I felt it was worth posting about too. I downloaded the beta for FourSquare on Windows Mobile. However, the application requires .Net Compact Framework 3.5 on the device. At first, I figured that a new HTC HD2 running Windows Mobile 6.5 should already have the 2 year old version of the Compact Framework installed in the ROM. Guess what I found out – No .NetCF 3.5 on the device.

While that’s just short sighted and stupid on Microsoft’s part, the solution is pretty simple. All I need to do is download the CAB from the web and I’m good to go. Sadly, it’s just not that simple. You see, the .NetCF 3.5 installer is a 33MB desktop installer that contains the CAB files inside of it. So you can’t simply download it to your device and install.  Now I’m really wondering what the hell Microsoft is thinking. Have they lost sight of the end user in all this?

Let’s take a look at the steps to install the .Net Framework 3.5 on your Windows Mobile 6.5 device: 1) boot up laptop, 2) goto download page, 3) download huge 33MB installer, 4) install on desktop, 5) find 1 small 2.5MB CAB file left behind from installer, 6) ActiveSync your phone, don’t use ActiveSync then you need to copy it to a MicroSD card and insert that into your phone. 7) On your phone, launch File Explore and find the file. 8) Run the file.

And now the steps if a CAB file was available directly from Microsoft’s site: 1) goto download page, 2) download file, 3) install file. DONE.

I would really like to see some sort of explanation on A) why it’s not already baked into the device ROM, and B) why the end user can’t simply download the CAB file directly to their device.

About Mike Temporale

Mike Temporale has written 614 posts on Mobile Jaw..

Mike Temporale grew up fascinated by computers since an early age. His first hands on with a computer came when he was 7 years old and a travelling lab of Commodore PET computers made a stop at his school. Hooked on the new world these devices offered, he took any chance possible to get in front of a computer. When Compaq launched the iPaq 3600, he was hooked again. This time on a whole new world of mobile computing. Today, Mike spends his day helping clients deploy and manage their mobile device around the world. From installing custom software, to locking and securing data, and everything in between. He is also the Editor in Chief at Mobile Jaw - a site focused on today's mobile world.

  • Darren Humphries

    Hear, hear!!

  • Nitaino

    That’s too much to do, I just Installed directly from my phone(Opera browser). I didn’t need my Computer at all

  • Mike Temporale

    @Nitaino – what URL? The only Compact Framework I can find online in CAB file format is 2.0 or it’s on a third party site.

  • Don

    Mike – if you head to, and search for “.Net” you will get one app called YoMoMedia Reader. It’s a free app and needs the CF, so when Marketplace kicks off the install that will install the CF for you. Then you can go ahead and install 4Square beta. Just a workaround for you

  • Darren Humphries

    Mikes point isn’t that he can’t get .net 3.5 but that MS didn’t just include it or make it very easy to get.

  • Nitaino try here Mike or ask CJLippstreu from he gave me the link but I forgot

  • Nitaino
  • MobileJaw

    Is it Really That Hard to get .Net Framework 3.5 on Windows Mobile 6.5 Device? –

  • MikeTemporale

    'nuff said! RT @MobileJaw Is it Really That Hard to get .Net Framework 3.5 on Windows Mobile 6.5 Device? –

  • Darren Humphries

    RT @MobileJaw: Is it Really That Hard to get .Net Framework 3.5 on Windows Mobile 6.5 Device? –

  • Jackniel Delgado

    @MobileJaw No, I installed .Net 3.5 directly from my phone, is not a science

  • Greg

    Answer A:
    It takes that long because of the lead time and restrictions that individual carriers place on the process.

    Answer to B: Using the Microsoft Tag reader, you can now download the .CAB file just by snapping the Tag at

  • Kathleen Anderson

    Luna TagGen for Mobile has just added a Microsoft Tag for the .NET Compact Framework 3.5 CAB file to their download page at: so if you have the Microsoft Tag Reader, launch it and point your phone at the tag and it will install it directly to your phone.

  • Mike Temporale

    Thanks for links everyone, but you’re missing the point. Sure, you can get .NetCF3.5 from third party sites. But A) do you trust that site and the file they are offering? B) you should be able to go to the author’s web site and get it directly from them. and C) why is it not in the ROM of 6.5 devices?

    .NetCF3.5 is not new, it’s been out for a long time. So why isn’t it already baked into Windows Mobile 6.5 devices, and why can’t I download it direct from Microsoft’s site (I want it from the source, thanks).

    I don’t think that’s too much to ask for. I appreciate the links, but I when I download software, I want to get it from trusted sites so I know that it hasn’t been messed with.

  • Joe

    Here is why i do not think .NET CF 3.5 is already natively installed into Microsoft’s ROM releases:

    I think they are ready to let go of the framework completely and begin with version 4.0. Also WM 6.5 is built off of the same kernal as 6.1, 6.0, & 5.0. With that, hypothetically, the .NET CF that they used should be the same. They may not have needed the newer version but i do agree that it was wrong to not include it. I maybe missing the point or be wrong on this since i am not a developer but i think with the fact the Kernal is the same and each version after WM 5.0 has been essentially a face lift.

    Microsoft is very slow to roll out their mobile “touch” friendly website and the marketplace is a bit slow to be populated with apps. I think you would be able to find this utility in their store, but i find their lack of organization to be very troubling.

    I did not find it difficult to install it onto my device. I have been running that version since its release and i do have to say that it did increase my compatibility for apps and programs. Even certain programs designed for WM 6.0 work fine on my device (i am running WM 5.0). I am used to downloading thing to my computer then porting them to me device via WMDC/Activesync. Since i am used to it, i do not mind it at all. In Fact i like having a .cab backed up to my PC.

    In case anyone wants a nice app store with all free apps for their WM device, please download the OpenMarket from freeware Pocket PC’s website. It catalogs everything from their site with a nice easy UI, and you can directly download the apps to your device. I believe in their app store they have a .cab listing for .NET CF 3.5 to be directly installed in your device. If Redmond can not do simpler tasks like this, then i guess we must depend on the community to do it for us.

  • Mike Temporale

    @Joe – those are some excellent considerations. WinMo7 is based off CE6 – at least that’s what is expected. While it is a different kernel, it’s certainly not a game changer when it comes to NetCF.

    In terms of installation, it’s not difficult for you or me. But the average person is going to be concerned about downloading a 33MB file just to get the latest version of NetCF on their device. Making the CAB file available online would be considerably easier for most people. However, that still doesn’t explain why a 2 year old framework didn’t make it into the latest version of the ROM. More often than not, I don’t have my PC with me. Which makes installing this all but impossible.

    OpnMarket is an excellent market place for Windows Mobile. I haven’t looked in that market place for the latest version of NetCF. However, you shouldn’t have to go to third party sites to get the latest version of a Microsoft product. I really prefer to download content directly from the source.

    Which is the next question… Why isn’t this available on the Windows Market Place for Mobile? If anywhere, it should be there.

  • Kathleen Anderson

    The Microsoft Forums for Windows Mobile have a section for the Windows Marketplace for Mobile and I posted this there:

    Hopefully someone from Microsoft is watching the forums.

  • Al

    some peeps are kind enough to extract the 33mib cab file into a 2.5mib file only, download it here, i just updated mine from there

  • Mike Temporale

    @Al – yes, there are plenty of third party sites that you can download it from. That’s not the point. Please read my comment above from Feb 5th @ 10:08pm. 😉

  • Syed Ali Muazzam

    MS .NET C framework is here
    search in your desktop c:/ drive the file name and run in your windows mobile.

  • lahu

    NET CF 3.5.9 comes preinstalled in latest ROM 3.14

  • Mike Temporale

    A lot of people are missing the point here. Kind of surprising…

    @Syed – if you read my article, I’m wasn’t in front of my computer. AND, that’s only there if you download and install the MASSIVE desktop installer for developers. It doesn’t actually put it on your phone.

    @lahu – what ROM are you talking about, a hacked ROM? Again, not important to the thousands of people running legit versions of their phone. It’s not in the ROM that ships with the phone, and it’s not in the marketplace. Answer me this, if I’m not at my computer and trying to install an app that requires .NET CF, how in the world do I flash my device with your ROM? ya….

  • Bubba

    This just adds to the reason that Microsoft will fail in the phone market. Android is destroying them in the market and I can’t wait to replace my 6.5 phone with an Android.

  • SeekMocha

    When you download and install the massive .NET file, at the end of installation it tells you that the .net will be installed the next time you connect the phone to your computer. That connection must be performed using Microsoft Mobile Device Center, formerly known as Active Sync. As soon as you make the sync connection between your desktop computer and the phone via the Mobile Device Center, it immediately informs you that the .net is being installed.

    So the steps are:
    1. Download and install .net installer file on desktop.
    2. Connect phone to computer and sync with Mobile Device Center. I use a USB cable – I suppose BlueTooth would work.

    So, really, it’s not tremendously difficult – unless you do not have ActiveSync or Mobile Device Center.

  • Mike Temporale

    Thanks SeekMocha, but… If you took the time to read my original post, you would have learned that I know how to install the .Net Compact Framework on devices. Heck, I help hundreds of customers do this every year. The problem and the focus of this post is the fact that it’s not available in the Marketplace on Windows Mobile devices and there is no reason for Microsoft to not put it there.

    Yes, I know that developers can build their apps in such a way that it detects when it’s not installed and will go get it and install it.

    Yes, I know that it can be installed via ActiveSync.

    Yes, I know that there are plenty of third parties that have extracted the CAB files and placed them on their website.

    None of that answers the question of why it isn’t in the Marketplace and why there isn’t a Microsoft site that it can downloaded from directly onto a mobile device. I want to get the file from someplace I can trust. Microsoft has missed the boat on this. They still haven’t figured it out – despite the fact that I know they have read this very post. But much like you they don’t understand why someone would want to do this directly from their mobile device.