“The application cannot start” bug in Visual Studio 2005

This morning, I tried to start up Visual Studio, and I got the following message in a dialog box:

The application cannot start

This KB article (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306905) gives 7 possible causes, listed by likelihood. I tried the fix for Mxsml3.dll, but it didn’t solve the problem.

Here’s a little context. Last Friday, I was trying to install Team Server (build) on my desktop, but apparently it’s not compatible with Vista. So this morning, when Visual Studio didn’t start, I figured it was because something got messed up during the Team Server (build) installation. So, here’s the fix:

I put in my Visual Studio installation DVD and chose the Repair/Re-install option. Every few minutes, I tried to run Visual Studio–usually that’s a no no–and after about 4 minutes into the repair script, the error message went away and Visual Studio started up just fine. I then decided to gamble and cancel the repair/re-install, betting that the installer wouldn’t really rollback the broken DLL. I was correct.

This saved me a lot of time, since un-installing/re-installing Visual Studio usually takes many hours to complete.

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