I just uninstall SQL Server 2012 (but Microsoft SQL Server 2012 didn't uninstall completely), now I want to install SQL Server 2016 but it causes this error:

vs shell installation has failed with exit code 1638.

I google it but can't find a true answer.

  • Error 1638 means another version of the SQL Version is already installed. So you have to remove/Uninstall complete SQL 2012 before Install SQL 2016. For Uninstall/Remove SQL from your machine use Control panel (technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms143412(v=sql.110).aspx) – CR241 Jun 15 '17 at 19:01
  • I think you can ignore the others comments about version already installed because you can have multiple versions installedat same time. Try restarting the server and install SQL 20126 – Daniel Björk Aug 14 '17 at 18:47

Exit code 1638 is Another version of this product is already installed. Installation of this version cannot continue. To configure or remove the existing version of this product, use Add/Remove Programs on the Control Panel

OK, the correct answer to this is that another (incompatible) version of the Visual C++ Redistributable is already installed. It has nothing to do with the SQL Server version.

In my case I uninstalled VC++ redistributable 2017 from Add/Remove Programs. I actually had two slightly different versions installed, I uninstalled both then retried the installation of SQL Server. This also broke Management Studio which was already installed, and reinstalling just the VC++ redistributable didn't work (probably now the wrong version), so I ran a Repair from the SSMS installer and that fixed it.

Props to this solution for pointing me in the right direction.

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