The Oracle Client software provides all the necessary network connectivity "hooks" from applications to the database. Your VB program can't communicate natively to any database. So you use an open solution called Open Database Connectivity, or ODBC. ODBC is your bridge from VB to the database network software. And Oracle Client software is the bridge from ODBC to the actual database. Without that bridge, you'd never cross the river, so to speak. So you need Oracle Client software. And, IIRC, the Microsoft ODBC driver for Oracle also requires Oracle Client software. So it looks like you'll have to load it!
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This was first published in February 2002