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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

Visual Basic Legacy Runtime Libraries

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 2/23/2024
Page Views: 748
Topics: #VisualBasic #RuntimeFiles #ProgrammingForMicrosoftWindows
Free (and ad-free!) access to Microsoft's runtime libraries for legacy versions of Visual Basic, from 1.0 through 6.0 SP6.

Visual Basic has been around a long time…a long time. (To give you an idea how long, the PC I first ran Visual Basic 1.0 on, ran on kerosene.)

Visual Basic has always produced program files (also called "executables" or "applications" but never stand-alone program files: They all, also, required a Visual Basic "runtime" library that actually contained virtually all of the Visual Basic program functions used by the programmer to make his or her program work. The original idea is that the runtime library would be a part of Windows, distributed with it and therefore not part of the overhead of disseminating a program itself. Alas, this never became the case.

To remedy this, Visual Basic programmers were always supposed to create a "Setup" program to distribute it, plus the runtime (plus any special additional files needed, such as a Help document). Such setup programs were automatically designed to only copy a runtime or other library file to the user's hard disk if the installing file was, in fact, a more recent version than any that might already be on the user's machine.

But, by definition, not many Visual Basic programmers—especially in the early days—were sophisticated enough to create a setup program. And so, many Visual Basic executables were distributed by themselves, on a floppy disk, often with a copy of the runtime at all, relying on the user's already having it somehow (most likely, a previous installation of a VB program, or by virtue of having VB installed on his or her own machine).

So, the bottom line: There are a lot of little programs lying around out there, thatcould run if only the runtime dynamic link libraries were available.

They can be found. Because Microsoft gave permission early on for free distribution of the runtimes, they can be found on any number of web sites. What I've added for you, dear reader, is that they've been put into a Setup program of their own that will make sure they are copied into the correct location and registered for you.

The libraries are fairly simply named: VBrun100.dll, VBrun200.dll, VBrun300.dll. Think you've got the pattern? You're wrong! Because version 4 produced both 16 and 32-bit executables, each with its own library, Vb40016.dll and Vb40032.dll. There never was a "VBrun400.dll" from Microsoft, though an enterprising virus creator made one to distribute his evil software. (Long since defeated by virus scanners, of course.) VB versions 5 and 6, much more complex, used so many libraries that Microsoft has bundled them for us (made available below for your convenience).

Click on the links below to either Run or Save (and then run) these libraries. While I can't guarantee anything beyond what Microsoft has—Microsoft wrote them, and basically guarantees nothing—I can promise I have added nothing extra; no spyware, viruses, or programs. I have installed them on my own computer, and no harm has come from them.