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Is COM a Dying Technology?

by Jonathan Allen on Aug 21, 2007 |

Component Object Model or COM was invented by Microsoft in 1993. It included a number of features that allowed applications to communicate with one another in a language agnostic fashion. A number of technologies fall under the Com umbrella including OLE, ActiveX, DCOM, and COM+.

Many of the features found in COM have since been replaced by .NET and the CLR. With languages sharing a common runtime, COM's method for exposing object libraries is no longer needed. .NET remoting replaces DCOM, and unlike ActiveX controls, downloadable libraries written in .NET can be verified for safety.

This is all theory. In reality, the picture is much more complex. The COM based language, Visual Basic, is still a major platform for many companies even though it is no longer supported in any meaningful fashion. And COM is still the technology of choice for Microsoft Office as wells as countless other applications. Even Windows Vista exposes some new functionality via COM libraries.

So the question remains, is COM a dying technology or something that will be seen for many years to come?

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If you have to ask... by Weiqi Gao

... it's not dead.

COM live to its replaced in Microsoft office by robert shell

As long as MS-Office integration is important then COM will lives on. Afraid once you attempt to add functionality too Excel or add in-place data displays in Word your back to COM land. As of Office 2003 there are wrapper now work (mostly) but COM still the key.

In fact COM still appears to be the high water mark for runtime application integration. What really replaces OLE and in place activity in dot net. In the .Net environment appear much focused on development time library/component integration and no application integration.

is COM a dying technology or something that will be seen for many years...? by Stefan Wenig

Both, of course. This is so obvious I wonder why anyone would bother to ask that question.

Did I miss something? by Kevin Williams

That would imply that COM is still alive, wouldn't it? That's news to me, I thought COM died the day .NET came out. :)

Re: COM live to its replaced in Microsoft office by Diego Vega

Agreed about Office being one of the main reasons COM is still alive. Also an interesting observation about .NET lacking some application integration features, but I think it improves a lot with WCF. What I think we won't ever see is a .NET based document format and embedding mechanism, but that is because we now have and prefer XML.
What amuses me sometimes is that all those cool new browser extensions we see comming from Windows Live and Microsoft Research seem to be ActiveX controls for IE and Firefox plug-ins. It seems that COM is still the way to go if you want to do something to extend IE in C++. I wonder how much of this will change in the comming years.

Re: COM live to its replaced in Microsoft office by Jonathan Allen

What I think we won't ever see is a .NET based document format and embedding mechanism, but that is because we now have and prefer XML.


I'm not so certain about that. Even if XML is the format of choice, you still need something to render it.

Not close to being "dead" by Peter Ritchie

Although direct use by end-users is on the decrease, technologies like .NET are using COM in the background. .NET was once named COM3.

COM is still the main technology to extend dozens and dozens of aspects of Windows and Internet Explorer. It's not going anywhere anytime soon.

COM is dead to me by Chou Harry

If I have a choice, I won't write anything with COM as the main platform.

To me, COM is dead ...

I know there are places COM is required.

Again, if you have choice, will you write your next app in VB6?

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