A month or two back, I had to write a launcher app that would allow/disallow the running of select installers based on various conditions and config files. Since this would run prior to any of the MSIs, and thus couldn’t assume the presence of any dependencies like .NET or the VC++ runtime, I wrote it as a statically linked MFC dialog app using VC++ 2008. All was well with initial testing. But during a final testing phase, the launcher failed to run on a fresh Windows 2000 box with an error about a missing gdiplus.dll.
Windows XP and later OSes like Vista and Windows 7 have GDI+ by default though you may need to apply patches for the latest updates on XP. Windows 2000 predates GDI+ and thus does not have GDI+ by default though a redistributable is available as a separate download. So that’s why it failed. But why is there a dependency at all? I had always assumed that a statically linked MFC app would run anywhere. The it struck me – the BCG stuff that they added to MFC starting VC++ 2008! That code used GDI+ and thus had a GDI+ dependency.
Obviously I couldn’t include the GDI+ redistributable for the launcher app and I didn’t want to remotely take the risk of manually copying along the GDI+ DLL (or any extra files it needs) what with the various updates out there. Eventually, I rewrote the app as a plain Win32 API dialog app (the app was kinda simple, so it didn’t take me too long). I know not many people support Windows 2000 today, but some of our clients are still on that OS, and so it was important for us to support it. Anyway, this is just something to keep in mind when using MFC to write a stub executable that should run anywhere.