The Microsoft Knowledge Base (KB) contains a wealth of information for all Microsoft products and technologies. This article is designed to assist users of Microsoft Developer products and technologies with using the Knowledge Base to find the information and technical answers the users seek.
NOTE: This article only applies to Developer products and technologies. The information and standards described in this article may not apply to other families of Microsoft products.
What Exactly is the Knowledge Base?
The Microsoft Knowledge Base, often referred to as "the KB," is a database full of technical articles related to Microsoft products and technologies. These articles range from "How To" articles that describe how to accomplish a specific task, to "Bug" articles that document known bugs in Microsoft products. A full description of the different types of articles in the Knowledge Base can be found later in this article under the section "What Types of Articles Can I find in the KB?"
Where is the Knowledge Base Located?
The Microsoft Knowledge Base is available to customers in several locations. Listed below are just a couple of the locations on the Internet where the KB can be found:
Developers might also be familiar with the Knowledge Base on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) CD. The KB is accessible on the MSDN Library CDs as well as on the MSDN Web site:
Who Uses the KB?
The KB is used by Microsoft Support professionals and Microsoft customers of all types, from novice to expert. The KB is a valuable resource for users of any Microsoft product or technology.
What Types of Articles Can I Find in the KB?
The table below describes the different types of Microsoft KB articles. This table applies to articles written for Microsoft Developer products and technologies:
|How To Articles||How To articles describe how to accomplish a specific task, usually in a Step-by-Step format. These articles are prefaced with "How To" in the title. |
For example: How To Dynamically Add Controls to a Form with Visual Basic 6.0
|Informational Articles||Informational articles provide informational details about a Microsoft product, product feature, or technology. These articles are prefaced with "INFO:" in the title. |
For example: INFO: Differences Between DCOM95 and DCOM98
|Perceived Problem Articles||These articles address problems experienced by the user or developer. These articles typically address error messages or warnings that might be received, or they might address an issue caused by something external to the product. Problem articles often offer workaround steps to resolve the issue. These articles are prefaced with "PRB" in the title. |
For example: PRB: Internet Connection Dialog Appears at Windows 95/98 Startup
|Fix Articles||These articles address bugs reported in previous versions of a Microsoft product or technology that have been fixed in a new release or service pack. These articles are prefaced with "FIX:" in the title. These articles usually begin as bug articles; when the bug is resolved the title changes to FIX. |
|Bug Articles||These articles document a known bug in a Microsoft product or technology. Often they provide steps to work around the problem. These articles are prefaced with "BUG:" in the title. If a bug is fixed in a new release or service pack the article title changes and becomes a "FIX:" article. |
Here is an example: BUG: Hang or Application Error in Setup (VS60wiz.exe)
|Sample Articles||Sample articles provide downloadable code samples designed to assist users and developers with a Microsoft product feature or technology. Code samples are usually written when a HowTo article would not be sufficient to demonstrate a particular feature or technology. These articles are prefaced with "SAMPLE:" in the Title. |
Here is an example: SAMPLE: Using the PHD Class to Isolate Memory Leaks
|File Articles||These articles provide downloadable files that are not samples. The files available in these articles might include drivers, DLLs, tools, or other files that can be used in conjunction with a Microsoft product. These articles are prefaced with "FILE:" in the title.|
|Frequently Asked Question Article||These articles answer frequently asked questions about a Microsoft product or technology. These articles are prefaced with "FAQ:" in the title. Note that not all frequently asked questions have "FAQ:" in the title. |
Here is an example: FAQ: How Can I Get VSS and Visual InterDev Integration Working?
|Documentation Error Articles||If there is an error in the documentation for a Microsoft product, it is noted in a KB article. These articles identify any errors and how they should be corrected. These articles are prefaced with "DOC:" in the title. For example: |
DOC: Constant Values Incorrect for CursorLocationEnum
How Do I Search the Knowledge Base?
You search the KB just as you would search any other Internet search engine. Enter the keywords or phrases that you are seeking and select the Search button. You can narrow your search by using some of the predefined search criteria. When you visit the KB on the Web, there is a link for "Search Help." This page contains useful searching tips, such as logical operators that can be used when searching. Below are some additional items to assist you in searching the KB.
- Use Wildcards - the asterisk (*) can be used as a wildcard character. For example, if you wanted to search for all articles that started with the word "Key," you would search for "key*."
- Keywords - in addition to searching for certain words within a KB article or title, developer support has a special set of keywords you can also use to refine your search. The keyword scheme is described later in this article under the section "Understanding the Developer Support Keyword Scheme."
- Search by ID - Each KB article has an ID number. The ID numbers all begin with the letter Q, such as Q157883. If you know the Q number of the article you are seeking, you can search for the article by ID number. Also, if you know the Q number, you can go directly to the KB article without searching. Each KB article has the following URL:
Simply replace the X's in the above URL with the proper numbers.
- Select the correct Product or Technology - On the initial search screen, you are prompted to select the Microsoft Product that your search is about. This list not only contains products, but technologies as well. For example you might be using Visual C++ to program Collaborative Data Objects (CDO). Collaborative Data Objects can be selected from the list to refine your query. Other key developer support technologies include Active Server Pages (ASP), ActiveX Data Objects (ASO), Internet Server API (ISAPI), OLE Programming, Transaction Server (MTS), and Web Classes. Be sure to scroll through the entire list to help refine your queries.
Understanding the Developer Support Keyword Scheme
Each Developer Support KB article contains special keywords to help identify them. These keywords are listed at the bottom of each article in a section marked "keywords." Each Developer Support product and technology has a special keyword. The list of keywords is too extensive to list here in this article. However, understanding the keyword scheme can be very useful in finding the articles you seek.
The Developer Support keywords are constructed as follows:
kb<product|technology>[versioning information][ServicePack #][bug|fix|qfe|faq]
|kb||Required. Each Developer Support keyword starts with the letters "kb"|
|<Product/Technology>||Required. The letters kb are followed by the specific product or technology, such as kbVC for Visual C++ or kbVBp for Visual Basic.|
|[versioning information]||Optional. The version of the product or technology that the article applies to is included next. Decimals are not included in keywords, so Visual C++ version 6.00 would read as kbVC600.|
|[Service Pack #]|| Optional. Some articles apply to specific service packs (sp). For example, "kbVC600sp2"|
|[bug|fix|qfe|faq]||Optional. If the article addresses a bug or a bug fix in the versioned product or technology the word "bug" or "fix" is added to the end of the keyword. For example, if an article addresses a bug in Visual C++ version 6.00 the following keyword would be added "kbVC600bug".|
If an article addresses a QFE (Quick Fix Engineering patch) the letters "qfe" are added to the end.
If the article addresses a frequently asked question, "faq" is added to the end of the keyword.
Keywords can be used to narrow your search significantly. For example, if you are searching for a Visual Basic article, but you want to find only those articles that apply to Visual Basic version 5.00. you would search for the following: "kbVBp500*." Be sure to use the wildcard character (an asterisk (*)) when searching.
Below is a list of some common Developer Support keywords. The best way to use keywords is to make note of the product or technology keywords you find in articles you view most often:
|kbVBp||Used for articles that apply to Visual Basic. kbVBp600 for example would be used in articles that apply to Visual Basic 6.0.|
|kbVC||Used in articles that apply to Visual C++|
|kbVFP||Used in articles that apply to Visual FoxPro|
|kbVisID||Used in articles that apply to Visual InterDev|
|kbVJ||Used in articles that apply to Visual J++|
|kbSSafe||Used in articles that apply to Visual Source Safe|
|kbADO||Used in article that apply to ActiveX Data Objects (ADO)|
|kbNTOS||Used in articles that apply specifically to the Windows NT operating system.|
|kbWinOS||Used in articles that apply to the Windows operating system (not Windows NT), such as kbWinOS98 for Windows 98 articles.|
|kbWinOS2000||Used in articles that apply to the Windows 2000 operating system.|
|kbODBC||Used in articles that apply to Open Database Connectivity (ODBC). |
Also note that each type of article (as described above in the section "What Types of Articles Can I Find in the KB?") has its own issue type keyword, such as kbHowTo for HowTo articles and kbPRB for Perceived Problem articles.