Difference between COM and DCOM

Short Answer

COM (Component Object Model) and DCOM (Distributed Component Object Model) are both technologies from Microsoft. COM lets different parts of a program, or different programs, talk to each other on the same computer. It’s like having a group of friends chatting in the same room.

DCOM does something similar, but it works over a network, allowing these friends to chat even if they’re in different houses. So, while COM is all about communication on one computer, DCOM stretches that communication over a network, letting programs on different computers work together as if they were on the same machine.

Detailed Answer

Introduction to COM and DCOM

COM (Component Object Model) and DCOM (Distributed Component Object Model) are technologies developed by Microsoft to enable software components to communicate with each other. While they share some similarities, their main difference lies in the scope of their communication capabilities.

COM (Component Object Model)

COM is a standard for enabling communication and data sharing between different applications and components on the same computer. It allows developers to create reusable software components that can be integrated into different applications, regardless of the language they were written in.

  • Key Features:
  • Language Independence: COM components can be written in any programming language that supports COM standards.
  • Reusability: Once a component is developed, it can be used across multiple applications.
  • Encapsulation: COM components expose only their interfaces to the outside world, hiding their internal workings.
  • Use Cases:
  • An application using a spell checker component developed in a different programming language.
  • A graphics program using a third-party image processing component.

DCOM (Distributed Component Object Model)

DCOM extends the capabilities of COM by allowing components to communicate over a network. This means that an application running on one computer can use components located on another computer, making it possible to build distributed applications.

  • Key Features:
  • Network Communication: DCOM enables components to interact across different computers connected by a network.
  • Location Transparency: Applications using DCOM components don’t need to know the component’s location on the network.
  • Security: DCOM provides a set of security features to ensure that only authorized users can access the components.
  • Use Cases:
  • A client application accessing a database component located on a server in a different location.
  • A distributed application where processing is shared across multiple computers to improve performance.

Difference between COM and DCOM

FeatureCOM (Component Object Model)DCOM (Distributed Component Object Model)
DefinitionA binary-interface standard for software components introduced by Microsoft, allowing them to communicate within the same process or among processes on the same machine.An extension of COM that allows communication among software components distributed across networked locations.
CommunicationCOM components communicate with each other locally within the same environment or machine.DCOM components can communicate over a network, allowing for interaction between components on different machines.
DeploymentTypically used for creating and managing components on a single computer or within a single process on that computer.Designed for applications that need to operate in a distributed network environment, working across multiple computers.
SecuritySecurity is managed at the process or application level, focusing on local access and operation controls.Includes additional security features to manage permissions and access control over a network, handling issues like authentication and encryption for remote communication.
Use CasesSuitable for applications and services that operate on a single desktop or server, such as software libraries, GUI components, and system utilities.Ideal for enterprise-level applications that require remote procedure calls and data sharing across different locations, such as client-server applications and distributed systems.
ComplexityLess complex in terms of setup and management since it operates within a single system’s boundaries.More complex due to the need to manage network communications, security, and component compatibility across different systems.
ExampleAn application using COM to integrate various software components, like spell checkers or encryption libraries, within a word processor.A client application using DCOM to access database services hosted on a remote server, or a distributed application that processes information across several computers in a network.


  • Scope of Communication: COM is limited to communication on the same machine, while DCOM extends this communication over a network.
  • Complexity: DCOM introduces additional complexity due to network communication, including security, latency, and error handling.
  • Use Environment: COM is suitable for developing modular applications on a single computer, whereas DCOM is designed for distributed applications that operate across multiple computers.


COM and DCOM serve as foundational technologies for component-based software development, with COM focusing on local communication and DCOM expanding this capability to distributed environments. Understanding the differences between COM and DCOM is crucial for developers building applications that require component interaction, whether locally or over a network. By leveraging these technologies, developers can create flexible, modular, and scalable applications that can easily integrate various software components, enhancing functionality and user experience.