A package that comprises the runtime binaries you require in order to successfully deploy applications that run on the Visual Studio Shell
The Visual Studio Shell Redistributable package is intended to allow developers to deploy their applications based on the Visual Studio Shell. It contains the required runtime binaries and other components that are mandatory in the distribution process.
The redistributable package is compatible with any version of Visual Studio, as Microsoft is offering installation files for Visual Studio 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2013.
The package comes in two different versions, one dedicated to the integrated mode and the other to the isolated mode, depending on the developer’s choice. The difference between the two stands in the possibility to create custom tools that will work alongside Visual Studio and remove features that you don’t want to include in your application.
Visual Studio Shell (Integrated) Redistributable Package
Projects created with the integrated shell can integrate with a full version of Visual Studio upon deployment and do not include other components (such as programming languages) aside from the IDE, the debugging tools and the source control integration.
As such, you can use it to implement your own programming languages or tools into Visual Studio. This mode is compatible with Visual Studio Professional and above.
Visual Studio Shell (Isolated) Redistributable Package
On the other hand, the isolated shell allows the deployment of standalone applications that only make use of Visual Studio’s services, with various customization possibilities both in appearance and functionality. The isolated version of Visual Studio Shell Redistributable also includes the .NET Framework 4.5 and relies on the Visual Studio IDE in order to ease the development process.
Regardless of your project type, the Visual Studio Shell Redistributable package must be included within the setup program that can successfully deploy your application on the final user’s computer. With this utility bundled inside the installation pack, Visual Studio is no longer a prerequisite for your applications.