Back to the Future in DLL Hell

I have a client (WinForms) / server (WCF) system runing on the .NET Framework 4.0.  I understand that installing 4.5 does an in-place update, basically replacing 4.0 with 4.5 (along with some breaking changes) instead of doing a side-by-side installation.  Two must read blog post on this topic: Rick Strahl and Michael K. Campbell.

Once 4.5 is installed on the client machine, our app behaves differently: no data is retrieved by the client and no errors are raised.  Something I suspect that is related to one of the Task API bug fixes but I'm not sure yet and I'll have to dig more.
If the issue has to do with with a change in 4.5 and we fix the issue, my guess is that the system will not run correctly on 4.0 forcing our clients to upgrade to 4.5.  But what about the clients workstations that are still on XP and servers on 2003?  They can't install install 4.5. So what do we do?

  • Keep the code as is and tell the clients that the system is incompatible with 4.5 and that they can't install it.  So how will MS push 4.5?  Thru Windows Update?  Can you prevent an update to 4.5?
  • Fix the issue(s) and tell the clients that the system is now incompatible with 4.0 and that they must install 4.5 and at the same time, upgrade their XP workstations and 2003 servers.

I feel like I'm back in DLL Hell.

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