Distinguishing between string formats
Having an untyped pointer pointing to some buffer which can hold either ANSI or Unicode string, how do I tell whether the current string it holds is multibyte or not?
Unless the string itself contains information about its format (e.g. a header or a byte order mark) then there is no foolproof way to detect if a string is ANSI or Unicode. The Windows API includes a function called IsTextUnicode() that basically guesses if a string is ANSI or Unicode, but then you run into this problem because you're forced to guess.
Why do you have an untyped pointer to a string in the first place? You must know exactly what and how your data is representing information, either by using a typed pointer in the first place or provide an ANSI/Unicode flag or something. A string of bytes is meaningless unless you know exactly what it represents.