If a function is declared with the
this instructs the Visual Studio C/C++ compiler
that the function in question is an imported function rather
than a normal function with external linkage.
With this additional information, the compiler generates
slightly different code when it needs to reference an imported
function, since the compiler is aware of the special way
imported functions are implemented.
First, there is no need for the stub function any more,
because the compiler can generate the special
call [__imp__FunctionName] instruction inline.
Furthermore, the compiler knows that the address of an
imported function never changes, and consequently it can
optimize away multiple loads of the function pointer:
mov ebx, [__imp__FunctionName] push 1 call ebx ; FunctionName(1) push 2 call ebx ; FunctionName(2)
(Note to crazy people:
This optimization means that you can run into problems
if you patch a module's import table once it has started
running, because the function pointer may have been
optimized into a register before you patched the import.
Consider, in the above example. that you patched the
__imp__FunctionName table entry after the
mov ebx, [__imp__FunctionName] instruction:
Your replacement import table entry won't be called since
the old function address was cached in the
Similarly, if your program tries to take the address of an imported
function that has been declared with the
declaration specifier, the compiler recognizes this and converts it to
a load from the imported function address table.
As a result of this extra knowledge imparted to the compiler, the stub function is no longer needed; the compiler knows to go straight to the imported function address table.
Note that there are still occasional circumstances wherein you can induce the stub function to be created. We'll take a look at them (and related dangers) next time.