A method and apparatus are disclosed for managing software components in a network of computers such as a local area network or the Internet. Each software component includes a binary object and at least one interface to the binary object. Suitable software components include OLE components. The network includes a registry file identifying currently registered components and their locations. The network also includes a component server computer on which unregistered components reside. A database associates software component identifiers with software component locators. Suitable databases include Novell NetWare Directory Services databases and Internet search engine databases. Database objects or entries representing unregistered components are found by a search based on the class identifier of a desired component. Software components found by the search are selected, transferred as needed, and then registered, thereby making them available to clients.