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Search Path Used by Windows to Locate a DLL

With both implicit and explicit linking, Windows first searches the set of pre-installed DLLs such as the performance library (KERNEL32.DLL) and the security library (USER32.DLL). Windows then searches for the DLLs in the following sequence:

  1. The directory where the executable module for the current process is located.
  2. The current directory.
  3. The Windows system directory. The GetSystemDirectory function retrieves the path of this directory.
  4. The Windows directory. The GetWindowsDirectory function retrieves the path of this directory.
  5. The directories listed in the PATH environment variable.
    Note   The LIBPATH environment variable is not used.

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