Windows API

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The Windows API, informally WinAPI, is Microsoft's core set of application programming interfaces (APIs) available in the Microsoft Windows operating systems. It was formerly called the Win32 API; however, the name Windows API more accurately reflects its roots in 16-bit Windows and its support on 64-bit Windows. Almost all Windows programs interact with the Windows API; a small number (such as programs started early in the Windows startup process) use the Native API.[1]

Developer support is available in the form of the Microsoft Windows SDK, providing documentation and tools necessary to build software based upon the Windows API and associated Windows technologies.



The functionality provided by the Windows API can be grouped into eight categories:[2]


The Internet Explorer web browser also exposes many APIs that are often used by applications, and as such could be considered a part of the Windows API. Internet Explorer has been included with the operating system since Windows 98 Second Edition, and has provided web related services to applications since Windows 98.[12] Specifically, it is used to provide:

  • An embeddable web browser control, contained in shdocvw.dll and mshtml.dll.
  • The URL monitor service, held in urlmon.dll, which provides COM objects to applications for resolving URLs. Applications can also provide their own URL handlers for others to use.
  • A library for assisting with multi-language and international text support (mlang.dll).
  • DirectX Transforms, a set of image filter components.
  • XML support (the MSXML components, held in msxml*.dll).
  • Access to the Windows Address Book.

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