The RUNDLL32.EXE file is linked to missing export KERNEL32.DLL:ActivateActCtx


I have tried unsuccessfully to install a property management management software called TOPS2000.  When I try to activate the product with the floppy diskette key the activation bombs (don't remember the error for that--sorry).  Afterwards when I bootup windows 98 I get the message 'The RUNDLL32.EXE file is linked to missing export KERNEL32.DLL:ActivateActCtx'.  Any suggestions on what to do would be appreciated.

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Dufo G. BelskiRetired bureaucrat/desktop supportCommented:
Get your Windows 98 CD, click on Start, Run, then type in sfc and click OK.  Let it scan for and restore all files it finds missing/damaged.
The ActivateActCtx function activates the specified activation context. It does this by pushing the specified activation context to the top of the activation stack. The specified activation context is thus associated with the current thread and any appropriate side-by-side API functions.

Client: Requires Windows XP.
Server: Requires Windows Server 2003.
Header: Declared in Winbase.h; include Windows.h.
Library: Use Kernel32.lib.

Restart the computer and hold down the CTRL key until you see a Startup Options Menu.  Select Command Prompt and Enter.  At the c: prompt type: scanreg /restore .  You will have a choice of 5 dates to choose from.  Select a date before the problem started.
uninstall the program completely and see if the problem still exists. This includes the above suggestions.

Next reinstall the program and write down the error messages and post them to this question. Also talk to tech supportn for the software. They also will need the error messages. If everything was working before the software was installed, I would conclude that the program was not installed properly or you need support for the program.

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Tops2000 needs Windows 98 SECOND EDITION.

Do you have Win98 First or Second Edition?

I also notice that they DO NOT recommend Win98SE.

It's a pretty hefty application:
To Install Program: Allow approximately 400MB Free Space.
Program Swap Space: Allow approximately 200MB Free Space
Data Storage: Allow approximately 5MB per 100 home community or 50KB per home

If this is the full retail version AND you have Win98SE, then check the box and see if it says there that they DON'T recommend Win98SE.  If they fail to state this specifically, and quote that it WILL run in Win98SE, then you have a good case for a full refund.

I would be hesitant to install it again, because it is obviously trying to use Windows XP/2000 resources.  From what I can determine, neither of the Win98SE system files being reported has a resource named "ActivateActCtx".

Personally, I would combine the suggestions made above, starting with gonzal13's suggestion to UNinstall the application.

Then use caza13's scanreg /restore command to get back to a previously backed-up registry.

The reason I suggest this is that I fervently hope the developers have at least written it well enough to restore any files that may have been backed up because they were replaced during the installation by newer or different versions.

If you do this in the reverse order, it COULD cause further problems.

SDoftware vendors should decide whether or not their applications DO support certain Operating Systems, instead of a half-baked comment like the one about Windows 98SE on their "System Requirements" page for which I gave the link above.  If they DON'T recommend Win98SE, then why on earth include it in the list to begin with.  Look carefully at the small print on the outside of the box.  Return policies normally state that software cannot be returned after the packaging has been opened, but your statutory rights are unaffected by trading standards legislation if the product was falsely advertised, and you obviously couldn't see inside the wrapping or read the "readme" files on the CD in advance.
...and THEN run sfc as suggested by asyscokid  :-)
blockwood20Author Commented:
TOPS2000 requires at least windows 95.  Windows 98 first edition is not supported for whatever reason.  I have windows 98 SE.  I have 256MB of RAM, PIII 400Mhz.  So I meet all of the requirements.  The resource named "ActivateActCtx would be coming from the activation of TOPS2000.  I am think the activation problem may be stemming from a marginal activation diskette.  I will try the Internet activation next.   Once the activation process is successfuly, I think the error will resolve itself.


Go back to the linked page at again and look at the minimum requirements.

Compare it with the "System Requirements" detailed in this .pdf file, which I downloaded from their "Tops 2000 Manuals" page at

Clearly there must have been some version changes since this offline document was produced, but it specifically says in the online page of requirements that Windows 98SE is the oldest OS supported, AND that they DO NOT recommend it.  So, it all depends on what version you have installed.

If you have a recent version, then I believe you are witnessing why they don't recommend Windows 98SE.   I believe that they have a duty to remove that .pdf file from their "Tops 2000 Manuals" page and update it to reflect more recent versions, or at least have different documents for different versions.

I am sure that this problem concerns the use of a wrong file version of kernel32.dll, and is bocoming a more common issue where software vendors are concentrating on Windows XP and not fully testing on Windows 98.

Have a read at this question on this site to quote an example:

Do a file search for all instances of kernel32.dll on your system, then right-click on each and select "properties".  What version number is shown under the "Version" tab?

The Windows XP version is 5.1.2600.1106 (xpsp1.020828-1920)
(file size 908 KB)
The Windows 98SE version is 4.10.2222
(file size 460 KB)

As I mentined above, there is NO resource within the Windows 98SE version of kernel32.dll named "ActivateActCtx", and that is precicely what your error message means.

Rundll32.exe is the program which executes 32-bit (ie. not DOS) dll files, and loads their resources into memory so they can be used by applications.

This page will explain the expressions "Import Table" and "Export Table" in some more detail to help you understand what is happening to produce the error.

Here's a portion extracted from the resources within the Windows XP version of this file, in case you mistrust me on this matter.

Export Table
Name: KERNEL32.dll

blah, blah, blah
blah, blah, blah
ActivateActCtx <------ *** NOT found in the Windows 98SE version ***
blah, blah, blah
etc, etc

Part of the activation process has either been badly written, and isn't doing a good enough check to ascertain your operating system, or it was designed by people who seem to forget that many of us still use Windows 98 and 98SE.

When you contact the vendor to complain about this, mention to them that they should revise their software so that it doesn't look for "ActivateActCtx" at the entry point 000137e8 in kernel32.dll on a Windows 98SE computer, because it won't find it!!

Ordinal      Entry Point      Name
0000      000137e8      ActivateActCtx

Of course, it could be that the software has some means of installing some kind of updated kernel32.dll on your system, but I am sure that "ActivateActCtx" is a Windows NT-based process.

Hopefully the online activation will resolve this.

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blockwood20Author Commented:
The software activated fine on Windows 95.  I will be trying the online activation after the holiday weekend.

That's good news, blockwood20.  Do you have an older version of Tops2000?  Puzzling that it works in Win95, but not Win9x.  Can only assume that it is properly recognising Win95 and taking this into account by using some different processes to activate.
Thank you, LeeTutor and modulo
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