Make ADS An Optional Install Alongside SSMS

Update Update!

Starting with SSMS 20, ADS is no longer bundled together with it.

From: Upcoming changes for SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) – Part 3:

For SSMS 20 we have removed Azure Data Studio from the installation.  In addition to being a highly voted item (Make ADS An Optional Install Alongside SSMS · Community (, this aligns with the future extension work for SSMS 21 and we decided to make the change in the current release.

I’m quite happy to be aligned with future extension work for SSMS 21 🥰


Starting with SSMS 18.8 officially, but available in SSMS 18.7 as well, if you install via command line, you can use the following switch to avoid installing Azure Data Studio (ADS).

SSMS-Setup-ENU.exe /Passive DoNotInstallAzureDataStudio=1

Odd Couple

SSMS 18.7 was released, with an announcement that whenever you install SSMS from here on out, you’d also be installing Azure Data Studio, along with whatever dependencies exist in there. Right now, there’s a short list, but that might change so I’m not going to get into it.

It’s an odd choice, and a bit forced. Sort of like whenever you go to update Java and it wants to install three toolbars and something to clean out your internet cache. But at least Oracle has the decency to ask first.

I’ve opened a UserVoice item to let ADS be an optional install, rather than forced.

The thing is, they’re tools for totally different people. If you look at the feature comparison sheet for ADS and SSMS, you can see what I mean.

Don’t You Read The Slides?

Mr. O has a great slide about the different kinds of DBAs you might meet in the world. If you pair that up with the features that are available in each tool, you can see where each one pretty neatly fits into different roles and the way they’d work.

If you need to work cross-platform, deal with source code, big data clusters, or more developer-related tasks, ADS is for you.

Go get it! After all, it’s still a standalone download, too ???

If you’re working with query plans in depth, AGs, Query Store, or about a dozen other tasks that are more DBA-focused, you still have to use SSMS, and it doesn’t make much sense to switch back and forth unless you specifically need something only ADS does.

Likewise, it doesn’t make sense to switch between ADS and SSMS if you don’t use any of the SSMS-specific functionality.

There’s totally part of the crowd that might need both. I get that, too. But bundling them together is sort of like selling someone a six pack of beer, where three of them are non-alcoholic.

I’ve nothing against ADS. I think it fits well into very specific workflows, just not enough to force everyone who needs SSMS to also install it.

Make ADS An Optional Install Alongside SSMS

From the UserVoice issue:

Starting with SSMS 18.7, Azure Data Studio is being automatically installed alongside SSMS with no option to not install it. ADS is still available as a standalone install, though.

I’d like a way to make the install optional for people who don’t need any ADS functionality.

Particularly for admins putting SSMS on their SQL Server for whom additional unknown dependencies might not be tolerable to security teams, not having to remember to uninstall additional items every time they update SSMS would be helpful. Even with an automated deployment, it requires an installation and then multiple uninstaller runs.

On top of that, ADS is updated monthly, and SSMS has a less frequent release cadence. That leaves most people juggling two installers anyway, or only updating ADS when they update SSMS. That seems an odd choice, especially given the lack of reciprocal bundling.

Thanks for reading!

Going Further

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7 thoughts on “Make ADS An Optional Install Alongside SSMS

  1. I have read and LOT of various viewpoints about this on Twitter.
    I am definately with you on this one and have voted.

  2. Thanks for the article, Erik! I’ve tried ADS occasionally over about two or three years. But every time, I run into bugs while doing normal DBA activities. Within a day I’m back to SSMS, every time.

    I tried ADS again just yesterday, only to find out that selecting, scrolling, and copying large amounts of result text is awkard/broken – and at least part of the issue has been known for two years (

    I love VS Code. ADS, not so much. It’s just not production-ready.

    The bundling makes me hesistant to upgrade SSMS in the future. I think I’ll stick with the version I’m on.

    (rant over 🙂

  3. Thank you for this article. I appreciate you pushing for this so hard.

    I am an Automation Engineer and tasked with automating the installation of SQL Server and the tools to manage it. My recommendation is to always install the management tools on a management server and the SQL Server should be managed remotely, not by installing the tools locally (like SSMS). However, it is a current requirement to install SSMS on the SQL Server.

    My biggest issue with this automatic installation of ADS is that when I automate the installation of SSMS, it automatically take additional time to download, space on each server, time to install, and loads another application on the server that should not be used (can be used remotely).
    This increases my time to deliver a SQL Server to Production.

    For one server this is not a huge issue. When setting up hundreds or thousands of servers, this definitely makes an impact.

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