Errors in Windows XP applications that start by using the ShellExecute() function

Support for Windows XP has ended

Microsoft ended support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.

This article has been archived. It is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.
The Path value of the
App Paths
registry key is added to the end of the PATH environment variable in applications that are started by using the ShellExecute() function. The correct configuration is for the Path value to be added to the beginning of the environment variable for these types of applications. The incorrect configuration causes applications to locate .dll files differently on a Microsoft Windows XP-based computer than on a computer that is running Microsoft Windows 2000 or earlier versions of Windows.

Service pack information

To resolve this problem, obtain the latest service pack for Microsoft Windows XP. For additional information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
322389 How to obtain the latest Windows XP service pack

Hotfix information

A supported hotfix is available from Microsoft. However, this hotfix is intended to correct only the problem that is described in this article. Apply this hotfix only to systems that are experiencing this specific problem. This hotfix might receive additional testing. Therefore, if you are not severely affected by this problem, we recommend that you wait for the next software update that contains this hotfix.

If the hotfix is available for download, there is a "Hotfix download available" section at the top of this Knowledge Base article. If this section does not appear, contact Microsoft Customer Service and Support to obtain the hotfix.

Note If additional issues occur or if any troubleshooting is required, you might have to create a separate service request. The usual support costs will apply to additional support questions and issues that do not qualify for this specific hotfix. For a complete list of Microsoft Customer Service and Support telephone numbers or to create a separate service request, visit the following Microsoft Web site: Note The "Hotfix download available" form displays the languages for which the hotfix is available. If you do not see your language, it is because a hotfix is not available for that language.

The English version of this hotfix has the file attributes (or later) that are listed in the following table. The dates and times for these files are listed in coordinated universal time (UTC). When you view the file information, it is converted to local time. To find the difference between UTC and local time, use the Time Zone tab in the Date and Time tool in Control Panel.
   Date         Time   Version            Size    File name        Platform   ------------------------------------------------------------------------   02-Apr-2004  03:15  6.0.2800.1502   8,348,672  Shell32.dll      x86   01-Apr-2004  23:10  5.1.2600.1363     676,864  Sxs.dll          x86   10-Mar-2004  17:59  5.1.2600.1363     593,408  Xpsp2res.dll     x86   01-Apr-2004  23:10  6.0.2800.1361     921,600  Comctl32.dll     x86   01-Apr-2004  23:10                      1,812     x86   01-Apr-2004  23:10                        621       x86   
To work around this problem, you can create a Microsoft VBScript wrapper application that reformats the PATH environment variable before the variable is transferred to the application that you start by using the ShellExecute() function.
Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the Microsoft products that are listed in the "Applies to" section. This problem was first corrected in Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2.
Windows XP supports "per application" paths. You can set your application's path in the
App Paths
key in the
registry subtree. Create a new key, and then use your application's executable file name as the key name. Set this key's default value to the path of your executable file. Windows XP uses this entry to locate your application if Windows XP does not find the application in the current path. For example, Windows XP uses this entry if a user clicks Run on the Start menu and includes only the file name of the application, or if a shortcut icon does not include a path setting.

To identify the location of .dll files that are placed in a separate folder, you can also include another registry value entry that is named Path and set its value to the path of your .dll files. For example, configure the App Paths registry key as follows, where the Value data entry path is the path of your .dll files:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\Application executable file name
Value Name: Path
Value data: path
Type: REG_SZ

Windows XP adds the path value, if it exists, to the PATH environment variable, if you use the ShellExecute() function to start your program.

For additional information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
824684 Description of the standard terminology that is used to describe Microsoft software updates

Article ID: 837633 - Last Review: 12/08/2015 06:28:00 - Revision: 3.1

Microsoft Windows XP Professional, Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition

  • kbnosurvey kbarchive kbautohotfix kbhotfixserver kbqfe kbwinxpsp2fix kbenv kbqfe kbwinxppresp2fix kbfix kbbug KB837633