Windows API index

The following is a list of the reference content for the Windows application programming interface (API) for desktop and server applications.

Using the Windows API, you can develop applications that run successfully on all versions of Windows while taking advantage of the features and capabilities unique to each version. (Note that this was formerly called the Win32 API. The name Windows API more accurately reflects its roots in 16-bit Windows and its support on 64-bit Windows.)

User interface

The Windows UI API creates and uses windows to display output, prompt for user input, and carry out the other tasks that support interaction with the user. Most applications create at least one window.

Windows environment (Shell)

User input and messaging

Data access and storage


The Diagnostics API enable you to troubleshoot application or system problems and monitor performance.

Graphics and multimedia

The Graphics, multimedia, audio, and video APIs enable applications to incorporate formatted text, graphics, audio, and video.


System services

The System Services APIs give applications access to the resources of the computer and the features of the underlying operating system, such as memory, file systems, devices, processes, and threads.

Security and identity

The Security and Identity APIs enable password authentication at logon, discretionary protection for all sharable system objects, privileged access control, rights management, and security auditing.

Application installation and servicing

System admin and management

The System administration interfaces enable you to install, configure, and service applications or systems.

Networking and internet

The Networking APIs enable communication between applications over a network. You can also create and manage access to shared resources, such as directories and network printers.

Deprecated or legacy APIs

The following are technologies and APIs that are outdated or have been replaced or deprecated from the Windows client and server operating systems.