Using the Windows Binary Distributions

This page provides important information for users of the Ice binary distributions on Windows platforms.

On this page:

Overview of the Ice Binary Distributions for Windows

Ice 3.7 provides the following binary distributions for Windows:

  • A traditional Windows installer file, ice-3.7.10.msi
  • Several NuGet packages:,,,,, and

The table below shows which distribution(s) you should install depending on your needs.

ActivityCompiler or EnvironmentDistribution to InstallFiles Installed
Develop C++ desktop applications

Visual Studio 2010

Visual Studio 2013

Visual Studio 2015

Visual Studio 2017

Visual Studio 2019

Visual Studio 2022

The complete Ice C++ SDK for the selected compiler, with x86, x64, Debug and Release binaries

All Slice compilers (slice2cpp, slice2cs, slice2java, etc.)

All Ice services (Glacier2, IceBridge, IceGrid, IcePatch2, IceStorm), and the associated command-line utility tools (icegridadmin, icestormadmin, etc.)

Develop C# or other .NET applications

Visual Studio 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 or 2022

.NET 6.0 SDK, .NET 7.0 SDK, .NET Framework 4.5.1

The complete Ice C# /.NET SDK, including slice2cs for Windows.

Develop PHP applicationsPHP 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 8.0Ice MSI

The IceGrid GUI admin tool

All the Slice compilers (slice2java, slice2php, etc.)

All the Ice Slice files

The Ice for PHP extension

All Ice services (Glacier2, IceBridge, IceGrid, IcePatch2, IceStorm), and the associated command-line utility tools (icegridadmin, icestormadmin, etc.) (x64 Release only)

Develop Java applicationsJDK 8, JDK 11, JDK 17, JDK 21Ice MSI
Administer IceGrid deployments

Deploy Ice services (Glacier2, IceBridge, IceGrid, IcePatch2, IceStorm)


If you are developing applications with Visual Studio, you should also install Ice Builder for Visual Studio.

C++ run time

All the C++ binaries installed by the Ice MSI are x64 Release, built with Visual Studio 2015. The Ice MSI installs the corresponding Visual C++ run time on your computer: you don't need to install Visual Studio or any Visual Studio Redistributable to use this distribution.

Ice NuGet packages
The Ice NuGet packages do not install the Visual C++ run time on your computer.

NuGet Package Installation

Adding a NuGet Package to a Visual Studio Project

Follow these steps to install Ice NuGet packages on your computer.

  1. Open the Visual Studio Solution that contains the project you want to work on.

  2. Open the NuGet Package Manager from the Tools menu:

  3. On the next screen, select the package you want to install, then select the project in which you want to install it, and finally click the Install button.
    NuGet will install this package in the packages folder next to your Solution file and configure the selected project to use it.

The screenshot above shows a solution with a C# project. The process is the same with C++ projects.

If you are using Ice Builder, you also need to add zeroc.icebuilder.msbuild to your C++ or C# project.

ZeroC Symbol Server

The ZeroC symbol server,, provides debug symbols for the C++ binaries included in the NuGet packages published by ZeroC.

To use this symbol server, add its URL on Visual Studio's Symbols page:

Check "Enable source server support" in Visual Studio's debugging options to allow Visual Studio to fetch the corresponding source code.

Debug Symbols and Stack Traces for C++ Applications

Ice C++ applications can print stack traces for Ice exceptions, which can be very helpful for debugging. In order to get usable stack traces, you need to install the corresponding Ice debug symbols in a local folder, and configure your system to look for debug symbols in this folder. We recommend you do the following:

  1. Download and install the Debugging Tools for Windows.

  2. Add these tools to your PATH, for example:

    set PATH=C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Debuggers\x64;%PATH%
  3. Download the debug symbols of your Ice NuGet package(s) to your local SymbolCache folder, with the symchk tool included in the Debugging Tools for Windows. For example:

    symchk /v /r packages\\build\native\bin\* /s SRV*%TEMP%\SymbolCache*

    (remove the /v option for a quieter output)
    This copies debug symbols for all the binaries in the selected NuGet packages to %TEMP%\SymbolCache. %TEMP%\SymbolCache is also the default symbol cache folder for Visual Studio. This folder can cache symbols for any number of NuGet packages, in particular the debug symbols of different versions of the same package.

  4. Set the environment variable _NT_SYMBOL_PATH to point to this local SymbolCache folder, for example:

    set _NT_SYMBOL_PATH=%TEMP%\SymbolCache

Using the NuGet Packages

Information for C++ Developers

Once you've installed the Ice NuGet package into a C++ project as shown earlier, this project will find automatically all Ice C++ header files and import libraries. If you add zeroc.icebuilder.msbuild to this C++ project, Ice Builder will take care of compiling the Slice files in this project with slice2cpp (it uses the slice2cpp installed from the NuGet package).

Moreover, the Debugger Path is set and you can run your application directly from Visual Studio - there is no need to set any additional environment variables.

Occasionally, you may want to run your application outside Visual Studio, or use one of the Ice services or Ice tools included installed by the NuGet package. To do so, add the NuGet package's bin folder to your PATH.

The<version> package is installed in the packages folder next to your Visual Studio solution file. For example, a Visual Studio 2017 solution would have a structure similar to the following:


With this example, you could set your PATH to:

set PATH=C:\MyApplication\packages\\build\native\bin\x64\Release;%PATH%

Compiler Settings

Your application must be compiled with the same flags as the Ice libraries:

  • Release: /MD /EHsc
  • Debug:  /MDd /EHsc

Add ICE_CPP11_MAPPING to the project preprocessor definitions if you want to use the Ice C++11 mapping. Without this definition, you will use the Ice C++98 mapping.

With Ice Builder for Visual Studio, the preferred way to select the C++ mapping is through an Ice Builder property.

You don't need to list Ice import libraries such as iceD.lib when linking with Ice libraries. See Linking with C++ Libraries on Windows for additional details. 

NuGet Package Details

The following table shows the Ice C++ NuGet package layout:

build\native\includeC++ header files
build\native\lib\<Platform>\<Configuration>C++ import libraries
build\native\bin\<Platform>\<Configuration>C++ binaries (excluding Slice compilers)
toolsslice2xxx compilers
build\nativeVisual Studio property and target files
sliceSlice files

Installing the NuGet package imports the property and target files from the build\native folder into the project. The property file defines properties used by Ice Builder; you can also use them in custom build steps.

The table below presents these properties:

IceVersion3.7.10Ice string version
IceIntVersion30710Ice version as a numeric value
IceVersionMM3.7Major Minor version
IceSoVersion37Version used in dynamic libraries
IceNugetPackageVersion3.7.10NuGet package version
IceHome$(MSBuildThisFileDirectory)..\..Full path to the package root folder
IceToolsPath$(IceHome)\toolsFull path to the folder of the Slice compilers

The .targets  file configures the C++ Additional Include Directories and Additional Library Directories to locate C++ headers and import libraries in the package's include and lib folders.

The NuGet package automatically adds its build\native\lib\<Platform>\<Configuration> folder to the Additional Library Directories, where <Platform> is the selected platform and <Configuration> is Debug when the MSBuild property UseDebugLibraries is true. Otherwise, <Configuration> is Release. Projects created with recent versions of Visual Studio set UseDebugLibraries to true automatically for debug projects (meaning projects that link with the Visual C++ debug run-time libraries); if you created your project with an older version of Visual Studio, you need to edit the project file and set UseDebugLibraries to true for your debug configurations, for example:

<PropertyGroup Condition="'$(Configuration)|$(Platform)'=='Debug|x64'" Label="Configuration">

Information for C# and .NET Developers

Please refer to Building Ice Applications for .NET.

Using the Ice MSI Installation

Information for PHP Developers

The MSI distribution includes all the components required to develop Ice for PHP applications on Windows, including PHP and Slice source files, the slice2php compiler and the Ice for PHP extension. The MSI installer detects the PHP installations on your computer and install the Ice for PHP extension for the supported PHP versons:

For each PHP version, the installer copies the Ice for PHP extension to the extensions folder and updates the php.ini configuration file to load the extension; it also modifies include_path to include the Ice for PHP folder. The following lines are added to php.ini:

include_path=${include_path}";C:\Program Files\ZeroC\Ice-3.7.10\php"

The Ice MSI includes both x86 and x64 versions of the Ice for PHP extension built with the PHP 7.1, PHP 7.2, PHP 7.3, and PHP 8.0 NTS libraries.

Configuration Files for IceGrid and Glacier2 Services

The config subdirectory of the Ice MSI installation includes sample configuration files for the Glacier2 router, IceGrid node, and IceGrid registry. These files provide a good starting point on which to base your own configurations, and they contain comments that describe the settings in detail.

The Ice manual provides more information on installing and running the IceGrid registry, IceGrid node, and Glacier2 router as Windows services.

Starting IceGrid GUI on Windows

You can launch IceGrid GUI using the shortcut that the Ice MSI installer created in your Start menu as IceGrid GUI. IceGrid GUI is a Java-based application.

Unattended Installation

The Ice MSI installer supports unattended installation. For example, in an administrative command window you can run:

start /wait Ice-3.7.10.msi /qn /l*v install.log

Windows may prompt you to confirm the installation, otherwise the installer runs using its default configuration (i.e., default installation folder, adds the installation's bin folder to the system PATH, and installs the PHP extension for the PHP installations it detects) but without any user interface. The installer will create a log of its activities in the file install.log.

Registry Key

The Ice MSI installer adds information to the Windows registry to indicate where it was installed. Developers can use this information to locate the Ice files in their applications.

The registration key used by this installer is:


The install location is stored as a string value named InstallDir.

Using the Sample Programs on Windows

The Ice sample programs are provided in ice-demos GitHub repository. You can browse this repository to see build and usage instructions for all supported programming languages.

Clone the ice-demos repository as follows:

git clone -b 3.7
cd ice-demos