Monthly Archives: May 2008

Main disadvantage of (really) AppLocal deployment

In my last post I described how to (really) deploy CRT/MFC DLLs into the same directory as the application (xcopy deployment).

“Really” means, that it will never load any DLLs installed in the WinSxS directory. This is archived by removing the “publicKeyToken” from the manifest. If you leave the “publicKeyToken” inside the manifest, then it will force loading of (possibly) installed WinSxS versions (and updates/redirections).

The option of really AppLocal installations are not explaind on any Microsoft side (or at least I could not find it). Only the “normal” (semi) AppLocal installation is (a little bit) explaind, for example here:
Visual C++ Libraries DLL Deployment.

One of the main reasons for this is the new focus from Mircosoft to Security.

The main disadvantage of really AppLocal installations is, that Microsoft is not able to update or patch your installation (or better the CRT/MFC components of your installation). And this sees to be anathema to Microsoft.
The same is also true for static linked applications.

So I fear, that Microsoft will

  • remove or deprecate static linking in the next version of VS
  • remove the possibility to really AppLocal installations in the next OS /MFC/CRT DLLs

Hopefully, this will not come true…

Howto: Deploy VC2008 apps without installing vcredist_x86.exe

There are several reasons for xcopy deployment of an application (also known as application local). One main reason is that you are independent of what the target computer has installed.
Also your application always uses the “correct” (or better: tested) version of DLLs, regardless of what MS installed or updated (see: .NET2 SP1 update breaks old apps!?).

The easiest way to overcome the problem is to link static against the CRT/MFC. But in some scenarios this is not an option and not possible.

But to be independent from OS updates or from vcredist_x86.exe installations of other apps, you need to do the following steps:

  • Remove the auto-generation of manifests (from all DLLs) and change the manifest generation form your EXE to an external manifest; you can do this by choosing: Project|Properties|Configuration Properties|Manifest Tool|Input and Output|Embed Manifest: No
  • Recompile your application and modify the external manifest as follows:
  • Copy your application and the external manifest to your deployment directory
  • Open the manifest-file (appname.exe.manifest) and remove the “publicKeyToken” from all MFC/CRT/ATL/OpenMP entries. Please leave the publicKeyToken to the “Microsoft.Windows.Common-Controls” entry.
  • Copy all neccessary directories under %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\redist\x86 to your deployment directory
  • In all sub-directories (Microsoft.VC90.CRT, optional: Microsoft.VC90.MFC, Microsoft.VC90.ATL, Microsoft.VC90.OPENMP, Microsoft.VC90.MFCLOC) open the manifest-file and also remove the publicKeyToken
  • Also lookup the version info from these manifest files and correct the version-info of the corresponding entries in your application manifest file
  • Save all manifests and let your program run; it should now run on all supported OS without installing anything…

After doing all these manifest stuff you can also embed the manifest into your application (EXE). And of course: The same can be done with x64 and IA64 apps.

I have made an example of the default MFC app (4.6 MB) for reference.

The (simple) manifests for the new MFC feature pack and the application looks like:







Instead of putting the “Microsoft.VC90.MFC” and “Microsoft.VC90.CRT” directories into the application folder, you can also just put the files from these folders into the application directory. The main advantage is, that your app will also work on W2k-SP4.

Here is also my older post for VS2005.