You receive an assertion in Wincore.cpp when you use a Visual C++ 4.x MFC application spawned from a Windows NT service or as a Windows NT service

When you use a Visual C++ 4.x MFC application spawned from a Windows NT service or as a Windows NT service, an assertion may occur in Wincore.cpp. Specifically, it occurs on the following line in _AfxActivationWndProc():

 _AfxActivationWndProc(HWND hWnd, UINT nMsg, WPARAM wParam, LPARAM lParam)

    WNDPROC oldWndProc = (WNDPROC)::GetProp(hWnd, szAfxOldWndProc);
    ASSERT(oldWndProc != NULL);  // <----- assert occurs here

The assertion occurs on line 385 with Visual C++ versions 4.2 and 4.2b, on line 384 with Visual C++ version 4.1, line 392 with Visual C++ version 5.0, and on line 389 with Visual C++ 6.0.


MFC subclasses all non-MFC created windows to handle specific activation issues. While subclassing a non-MFC created window, the old window procedure is stored in the properties of the window. Logging off of an Windows NT session causes the atoms used to identify the properties to be destroyed and the property cannot be retrieved. This causes the assertion to occur.

MFC was not designed for Windows NT services. As a result, if an MFC application is spawned from a Windows NT service, minimized, and then a user logs-off, then the assertion will occur.

Also keep in mind that there are other problems to consider when spawning an MFC application from a service or as a service. The OnEndSession() message handler for the main frame window closes out the CDocument object. So the WM_ENDSESSION message must be handled to prevent this from happening.


You can do one of the following things:

    Unsubclass all of the non-MFC windows at some time before logoff or during logoff such as in the WM_ENDSESSION handler.
      Modify the MFC code and rebuild the MFC libraries. In this case, you can modify the MFC code to prevent it from subclassing any non-MFC windows or modify the code so that you can store the old window procedure in a list rather than in properties for the window. As each window is destroyed (WM_NCDESTROY is received), look up the window handle in your list and unsubclass it like MFC does in the _AfxActivationWndProc() function.
        Separate the GUI part of the application from the service part. In other words, have a GUI client startup every time the user logs on. Then, have the GUI client talk to the service through some form of interprocess communication, such as named pipes or sockets. The service should maintain the data and the GUI starts up each time when you log on.

        MFC subclasses non-MFC windows to generally handle obscure window activation issues. For example, it ensures proper activation of toplevel windows when doing in-place OLE activation. It also ensures that the last active popup is activated when a user clicks on a disabled window that is part of the application. Normally, if you have a main window that owns a modal dialog box and some other popup window like a floating toolbar, and you switch activation to another application, and click on the toolbar that was disabled by the modal dialog box, Windows beeps and does not activate the application. MFC ensures that the modal dialog box is brought to the top when you click on the toolbar. Note that MFC handles all of these activation issues for MFC-created windows and non-MFC created Windows. The old window procedure is stored as a property associated with the window only for non-MFC windows. If you unsubclass the non-MFC windows (as the first technique suggests above), you still get these activation features for any windows that were created as MFC CWnd-derived objects.

        Unsubclassing the non-MFC Windows

        The first technique listed above may be an easy workaround for developers who have already written an application and don’t want to rework their design, rebuild the MFC libraries, or don’t need to handle the activation issues MFC handles.

        You can unsubclass non-MFC Windows in the WM_ENDSESSION handler of your main frame window. The following sample code demonstrates how to enumerate all of the windows for your process and unsubclass them: For Visual C++ 4.x and Visual C++ 5.0:

            static const TCHAR szAfxOldWndProc[] = _T("AfxOldWndProc");

        For Visual C++ 6.0:

            static const TCHAR szAfxOldWndProc[] = _T("AfxOldWndProc423");  // Visual C++ 6.0

        And add the functions:

            BOOL CALLBACK EnumProc( HWND hWnd, LPARAM lParam)
            //check for property and unsubclass if necessary
            WNDPROC oldWndProc = (WNDPROC)::GetProp(hWnd, szAfxOldWndProc);
            if (oldWndProc!=NULL)
               SetWindowLong(hWnd, GWL_WNDPROC, (DWORD)oldWndProc);
               RemoveProp(hWnd, szAfxOldWndProc);
            return TRUE;
         void CMainFrame::OnEndSession(BOOL bEnding)
            // unsubclass the non-MFC windows which MFC has subclassed
            DWORD dwProcessId;
            DWORD dwThreadId= GetWindowThreadProcessId(m_hWnd,&dwProcessId);
            EnumThreadWindows(dwThreadId, EnumProc,(LPARAM) dwThreadId);

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