Microsoft Access (Office) Developers Edition (ODE or MOD) Runtime Problems

(Updated 2007-11-14)

Also see Microsoft Access (Office) Developer Edition FAQ

There are a number of problems with using the Office Development Edition 97 (ODE 97) or the Microsoft Office Developer 2000/2002 (MOD 2000/2002) to distribute a runtime version of your software. 

By far the biggest problem is running an Access runtime version with a different version of Access, either retail or runtime already installed on the system.  The problem is that both the runtime and retail versions of Access insist on reassociating the MDB file extensions, and others such as MDE, MDW, etc, with the most recently executed version of Access.  

One solution is to put the explicit path and file names of the appropriate versions of access to all the shortcuts. For example "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 97\Office\msaccess.exe". Including the double quotes if you have any spaces in the path name which is very likely.

There are some programs out there which will automatically start the appropriate version of Access. One of those is ACCVER Allows you to work with multiple versions of MS Access databases. Detects the version of Access used to create your MDB, MDE or MDA files and either reports the version number or starts the appropriate version of MS Access.  I've been using this tool for a number of years.  It's worked very well.   The author has been prompt with adding my few suggestions to his tool.

Another problem is when the user/client decides to upgrade their version of Access without telling you.  

Either way you'll get blamed.  <sigh>  ODE97: Access 97 Runtime App Uses Access 2000 Executable may be of some assistance here.

One tip that may help sometimes is to stop the runtime versions of Access registering itself   One posting a while back stated "The simplest way I found is to install Access97 runtime with the .srg (self register) files blanked. This stops the runtime registering itself and interfering with other versions of Access. You'll have to create a shortcut that opens your access runtime with the full path and name of the installed msaccess.exe and your mdb/mde."

If you have a specific problem try doing a search at the Knowledge Base at Microsoft.

If you are running in a controlled environment, such as a corporation or office, you can likely handle all the problems which will crop up. However if you are looking at distributing to multiple clients at remote locations with unknown configurations then things get even more troubles.

One alternative is to distribute a CD containing multiple versions of the Access runtime. The Setup Switcher is designed to install either Access97 or Access2000-related runtimes depending on what's already on the recipients system.  I'm sure this utility can be easily updated to handle Access 2002.

Note however that purchasing the Access 97 runtime may be difficult. You can try eBay and such used software sites. In the past you were able to purchase the MOD 2000 and then ask MS to ship you the ODE 97 for the cost of shipping and handling. See INFO: Getting the Office 97 Developer Editions Tools now that Office 2000 is out  for details. However now that Access 2002 is out it is my understanding that you can no longer purchase the A97 ODE in this fashion.

For a list of the problems visit   Yes, they are a vendor but they also do point out the short comings.

Create the runtime distribution on the oldest OS you are supporting.  So instead of creating on your personal Win2000 Pro or Win XP Pro system create the runtime distribution set on a Win 95 or Win98 system.  Note that while Access 2002 runtime might install on Win 95 it won't actually work.  

Access 2002 runtime

The Access 2002 runtime creates the runtime package using the files from the original Office install without any patches. This also applies to Jet 4.0 Service Packs.  The Access 97 runtime happily included the updated files.  Thus you will need to either include the following files with your distribution set or depend on the user running Microsoft Office Update to download these files.  

The above also applies to Access 2000.

The below Runtime Updates update the Access runtime on the client workstations to the same level as corresponding Office XP Service Pack.  These do not update the runtime you, the developer, create on your own system.  These updates also do not update Jet.   The Microsoft Office Update did identify these as updates to be required.


Shortcut for all users of a Windows 2000 system.
Alter the PrivateGroup setting in Setup.lst to make a package that installs the shortcut for all users on that workstation.

Default Directory
See DefaultDir setting in Setup.lst

Testing Runtimes

You can do some limited testing of runtimes on your own system by creating a shortcut with the target states '"C:\Program Files\Office\MSACCESS.EXE" "C:\Database\database.mde" /runtime' without the single quotes.  You must have the double quotes if either of the paths contains a space, which is very likely.   While not perfect, especially if you are distributing OCX/DLLs, this will help test the any features which don't work in the runtime such as ODE97: Filter By Form Not Available in Run-Time Applications [Q172090]

Anyone who is working with any of of the ODE and MOD systems should create a test environment consisting of clean systems of the target OSs. Such as Win98, Win ME, Win NT4.0 SP6 and so forth. <shudder>  

This can be done on a single computer by using removable hard drives containing the OSs, multi-boot software such as Boot Magic (included with Partition Magic). Along with software such as Ghost or Drive Image to create copies of clean OSs and recreate them once they've been dirtied.

An alternative is VMWare or Connectix which allows you to boot up other OSs within Windows.

These solutions aren't cheap but then what about the cost of trustration levels of potential and existing clients as well as your wasted time.

Umm, of course, I'm not perfect in this regard either. <smile>

Distributing additional OCX/DLLs

You will be getting version problems with OCXs and such. <sigh> Especially Microsoft controls such as the Common Dialog.  It's only a matter of time. Use the free OCX/DLL version checker MDB available on my website for assistance in trouble shooting these kinds of problems at your clients.

It is especially important to test the distribution on clean systems as per the above Testing Runtimes seciton if you are distributing any additional DLLs or OCXs.  Otherwise you will never be sure you are correctly including the OCXs or DLLs but more importantly their dependencies such as a particular version of MFC42.DLL


CreateShortcut creates a Windows shortcut to almost anywhere you like, including special folders (such as the Desktop, Programs menu, and so on), or any folder.


Sagekey Frequently mentioned in the newsgroups as being reliable and responsive to problems.
Inno Freeware with several scripts on the net.  One is here. However these are more work. Support is here but also check the archives.
Ghost Installer
Wise Do a search on this page for mention of Access
Installshield mentions Access here.
Installer2Go (Although I'm not sure to what extent Access is supported. You may need the Sagekey scripts to do the complete job.)

A random assortment of MS Knowledge Base and MSDN articles

Note that while the articles may be version specific many of them do contain links to other version articles.  The solution is also frequently the same between various versions.

ODE97: How to Make Sure Apps You Create with ODE Run Correctly (Q255498)
ODE: Avoiding Common Mistakes with Distributable Run-Time Apps (Q180284) ODE 97
MOD2000: Avoiding Common Mistakes w/ Distributable Run-Time Apps (Q247530)
OFFXPDEV: Avoiding Common Mistakes w/ Distributable RunTime App (Q304007)
ACC2002: 2002 Runtime Is the Default File Assoc for MDBs & ADPs (Q287448 )

MSDN - Distributing Custom Icons with Your Microsoft Office 2000 Applications
MSDN - Microsoft Office XP Developer - Developing Access Runtime Applications
MSDN - Microsoft Office XP Developer - Deploying Your Application

OFFXPDEV: Microsoft Access 2002 Run-Time Package Does Not Install on a Computer Running Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 305002

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