visual c++ redistributable runtime versions

jftuga asked:

Do newer versions of visual c++ redistributable runtimes completely superseed older versions?

For example, one computer on our network has these installed: 2008 SP1, 2012 update 4, and 2015 update 2.

  1. Is is safe to remove the two older versions?
  2. On new system builds, can I just install the latest version? Or will some programs be dependent on a specific version?
  3. On a 64 bit system, will I need to install the 32 bit version (as well as 64 bit) for compatibility with 32 bit programs that user may encounter? Or is this scenario covered by just the 64 bit installer?

My answer:


A Windows program built with Visual C++ that uses the redistributable library is tied to that specific version of the library. They are not ABI compatible with each other.

So, if you have one program that uses the 32-bit 2008 redistributable, and another program that uses the 32-bit 2015 redistributable, and a third that uses the 64-bit 2015 redistributable, you need to have all three versions installed.

Note that Windows Update will provide security and critical updates for these runtimes, so after installing one, you should check for and install its updates as soon as possible.


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