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Industrial users slam Microsoft for `DLL hell`

01 June, 2000

Industrial users slam Microsoft for `DLL hell`

Frequent updates to Microsoft`s operating systems and components are causing problems for developers and users of Windows-based industrial software. The Microsoft Manufacturing Users Group (MS-MUG) - whose membership includes Microsoft as well as manufacturers, software developers and automation users - has recently issued a report highlighting the problems.

Every time that Microsoft issues a new version of Windows or a bug-fix, industrial software suppliers have to check whether their systems will work with the new editions, adding to their costs.

There is a particular problem with the DLL (Dynamic Link Library) and OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) elements. MS-MUG complains of "DLL hell" when DLLs used by an application on an existing operating system are replaced by updated DLLs contained in new OS release or application software.

Windows 2000 - the latest version - incorporates DLL redirection, which, says MS-MUG, "offers promise" for avoiding DLL difficulties. But, the group warns, "it still requires systems administrators to intervene to resolve the issue, and eliminates the main benefit of DLLs - the ability to save memory by sharing code space". MS-MUG would like to see a more seamless mechanism, such as Windows Installer, used to resolve the DLL problem.

Microsoft has suggested releasing bug-fixes separately from OS enhancements, but this "dual-track" approach could still cause problems for suppliers and users of industrial software, says MS-MUG.

Microsoft usually supports only one previous generation of its products - equivalent to a period of two to three years. But most industrial software suppliers aim to support their products for at least five years after they are replaced.

MS-MUG is therefore calling for a similar period of support from Microsoft. MS-MUG is a working group of the Open Architecture Controller User Group (OMAC).

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