Unable To Start Debugger: Visual Studio 2008

If, by chance, you’re like me and recently installed Visual Studio 2008 onto a 64-bit version of Windows, you may be getting the following error when you attempt to debug an application:

The components for the 64-bit debugger are not registered. Please repair your Visual Studio 2008 Remote Debugger installation via ‘Add or Remove Programs’ in Control Panel.

The reasoning behind this error is discussed here. In short, because VS2008 is still a 32-bit process, it cannot directly attach itself to a 64-bit application (.NET defaults to 64-bits when you’re on a 64-bit OS). As such, VS2008 needs to use the remote debugger to bridge the 32/64-bit gap. Unfortunately, this feature isn’t installed by default! In reading the error message, you are lead to believe that this can be fixed by adding additional components from the VS2008 add/remove programs screen. However, in actuality, you’ll need to run a separate application (found in CD-DRIVE:\Remote Debugger\x64). After installing the 64-bit debugger, you should see this problem disappear.

–Adam