I have a sample application. I just put a breakpoint at the beginning of main(). The callstack pointed to a function called mainCRTStartup() and before that, the kernel32.dll was present(grayed out). Can anyone please tell me what these functions are, and who invokes them?
The C++ runtime eventually has to call your main(), but there's stuff that needs to be done both before and after. Judging by the name, you're using a Microsoft compiler. If you have the CRT sources then look for crt0.c, it's a small source file that does the runtime initialization.
It's probably safer to say that there's hidden initialization and termination code in your program's executable. While it's correct to say that main() is the starting point for a program, it's not necessarily the first starting point. When your executable is loaded into memory, the starting address is probably at mainCRTStartup() instead of main().
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