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COM is an open architecture for cross-platform development of client/server applications based on object-oriented technology. Clients have access to an object through interfaces implemented on the object. COM is language neutral, so any language that produces ActiveX components can also produce COM applications.

COM is the object model on which Microsoft's ActiveX and OLE technology are built. COM allows objects to expose functionality to other components, and to host applications. It defines both how the object exposes themselves and how this exposure works across processes and across networks. COM also defines the object's life cycle.

COM is a binary standard for extensible architecture, providing the foundation upon which is built the rest of COM. In theory the binary standard means that COM is cross platform, though in reality it's little used outside Windows-based environments.

Some of the fundamental parts of COM are:
  • Interfaces: the mechanisms through which objects expose their functionality.
  • Reference counting: the technique by which an object (or, strictly, an interface) decides when it is no longer being used and is therefore free to remove itself.
  • QueryInterface: the method used to query an object for a given interface.
  • Marshaling: the mechanism that enables objects to be used across thread, process, and network boundaries, allowing for location independence.
    See also: Good COMBooks, COMC omponent Example
    Category Exam 70-155 Hot Topic Category C _ O _ M