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What is a manifest?

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There are a few types of manifest formats that I understand: Application,
Assembly, SxS Assembly, and Dependency.

Application manifests will usually appear as "myprogram.exe.manifest" or
embedded in the exe as an RT_MANIFEST (more on this later).

Assembly manifests are analogous to Application manifests but they
typically associated with dll's. SxS Assembly's are a special case of
this in that they go in the \windows\winsxs directory and have some special

Dependency manifests are small, usually single entry manifests, that allow
assemblies to advertise their existence. If you take an application (or
assembly) manifest, and merge in a bunch of dependency manifests: when the
application starts, it will look for those dependencies.

Visual Studio 2005 introduced manifest creation at build time. Microsoft moved
the c runtime to the \windows\winsxs directory so that it can be versioned. This
means that if your using Visual Studio 2005 or higher--your already interacting
with the ActCtx API and using manifests!

If you go to your project properties, and go down to the "Manifest Tool" drop
down and go to "Input and Output" you will see and option "Embed Manifest."

Here is where the problems start, and where we have to start going off road.
If the manifest tool (mt.exe) embeds your manifest, you won't have it to use
yourself. Also, where exactly is it embeding it?--does it make sense that you
just trust this tool? (No...)

Next entry I'll explain the options for embedding, what they mean, and what they
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