Steve Dower added the comment:

The Win32 API function linked by eryksun is the correct way to determine 
whether to include the current directory in the search - the doc specifically 
refers to matching cmd.exe's behaviour (searching ".;%PATH%" vs. just "%PATH%").

The PATHEXT behaviour should be to look for the name as provided first, 
followed be appending each extension. So looking for "python" will look for 
["python", *("python" + p for p in getenv('PATHEXT').split(';'))] in that order.


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