Delay Load is not a good way to check for functionality

On my previous post, Koro made the following comment:

“Don't ever check windows versions.  Instead check for functionality being present or not."

You can't always do that.

Do I want to add a __try/__except to catch delay-load exceptions around every UxTheme call or just do:


Then check that flag before calling OpenThemeData?

In some other cases too (all the Crypt Hash functions - trying to compute an MD5) the functions is documented as working fine in Win98 but it just fails - there is no way to know except of checking the version beforewards.

At least, as implied earlier, I just pack the Windows version in a DWORD at program startup to avoid nasty version comparision errors.

IMHO Koro’s misusing the delayload functionality.


DelayLoad is primarily a performance tool – when you DelayLoad a function, a tiny stub for the DelayLoad function is inserted into your application which calls LoadLibrary/GetProcAddress on the function.  That then means that when your application is launched, the loader doesn’t resolve references to the DelayLoaded function and thus your application will launch faster.

For example many components in the OS delay load WINMM.DLL because all they use in WINMM is the PlaySound API, and even then they only use it on relatively rare circumstances.  By delayloading WINMM.DLL they avoid having the performance penalty of having WINMM.DLL loaded into their address until it’s needed.


As Koro mentioned, DelayLoad can also be used as a mechanism to check to see if a particular piece of OS functionality is present, but the challenge is that now you need to wrap every API call with an exception handler (or you need to specify a delay load handler that provides a more reasonable default behavior).  Personally I wouldn’t do that – instead I’d manually call LoadLibrary/GetProcAddress to load the required functions because it allows you to have complete control over when you access over your error handling.  It also allows you to avoid using structured exception handling (which should be avoided if at all possible).


If you DO have need to use DelayLoad as a functionality check, you could try this trick (which works only for Koro’s problem).  Instead of wrapping all the theme API calls with SEH, you just add code to your app like this (I haven’t compiled this code, it’s just an example):

 BOOL g_EnableThemes = FALSE;
    g_EnableThemes = IsThemeActive();
__except(<Your Exception Filter>)
 if (g_EnableThemes)

    g_ThemeHandle = OpenThemeData(…)

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.csharpcode pre { margin: 0em; }
.csharpcode .rem { color: #008000; }
.csharpcode .kwrd { color: #0000ff; }
.csharpcode .str { color: #006080; }
.csharpcode .op { color: #0000c0; }
.csharpcode .preproc { color: #cc6633; }
.csharpcode .asp { background-color: #ffff00; }
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.csharpcode .lnum { color: #606060; }

In other words check for functionality being enabled once with an exception handler and later on use just the EnableThemes global variable to key off the behavior.

But this doesn’t change the fact that (IMHO) you’re abusing the DelayLoad functionality and using it as a versioning mechanism.