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I don't know if the latest offical version (5.2) of DNG Converter is compatible with Windows 2000, even though it is not mentioned. Perhaps an Adobe engineer can confirm that?
A quick google of the error message produces a variety of problems related to incompatible multiple DLLs sometimes installed by applications. One person suggests installing .NET Framework, another suggests looking for duplicate kernel32.dll files.
One thing I usually try is to update core Windows files with the latest service packs, runtime libraries, directX and drivers etc., but as Windows 2000 isn't supported any more, this makes the job much harder. I take it you've tried Windows/Microsoft Update, using the custom option?
I did try DNG Converter 5.2, and got exactly the same error message as with DNG Converter 4.4.1.
I also Googled the KERNEL32 error, and I looked it up in the Microsoft Knowledge Base. I found lots of different things, but none that were the same as my problem where everything else works as it should except one application.
Of the two Win2000 PC's, one is connected to the internet (I am using it now to write this) while the other is isolated. Both have Microsoft Service Pack 4, which was the last one for Win2000. The one connected to the internet is also updated every month using Microsoft Update.
I have used PC's at work for decades starting with a hand-me-down machine that ran on DOS 3.2, and I have had one or two Windows machines at home for years. However, I know just enough about hardware and software to get by most of the time. Digging into Windows' guts is not something that I am knowledgeable enough to do.
I hate the idea of spending a lot of money to buy a support package from Adobe just to have them tell me that they don't know what the problem is and that I should spend a whole lot more money to buy a new Vista PC and Photoshop software.
Automatic Updates only applies High Priority updates. I suggest manually logging in to Microsoft update (update.microsoft.com) and clicking on the 'Custom' button to look at the optional updates available, if you haven't done this already. There was a post-SP4 Rollup package and some more hot fixes released. You may or may not have these.
It might be helpful to scan your hard drive for all occurrences of kernel32.dll (and their locations) and check the internal versions of each (using right-click > properties). You should be able to determine if you have the correct version from the Microsoft website.
I have been using Custom Updates all along. The kernel32.dll on the machine is version 5.0.2195.7135. The Microsoft web site was, as expected, of no help at all. So I Googled it and the newest version that I could find was 5.1.2600.2180. Maybe that difference is the cause of the problem, but I doubt it. My experience has been that even though it should be no problem at all, changing important system files nevertheless frequently leads to heartache.
I believe that the solution for me will be to use the Canon-supplied software to save the RAW files as TIFF's and then use those files with PSE3.
Thanks for your effort.