Alternatively referred to as the Windows API and WinAPI, Win32 is the main set of Microsoft Windows APIs used for developing 32-bit applications. These APIs are responsible for functions in the following categories:
- Administration and Management - Install, configure, and service applications or systems.
- Diagnostics - Troubleshoot application, system problems, and monitor performance.
- Graphics and Multimedia - Incorporate formatted text, graphics, audio, and video.
- Networking - Communicate between applications on different computers on a network.
- Security - Password authentication, discretionary protection for all sharable system objects, privileged access control, rights management, and security auditing.
- System Services - Gives access to computer resources and the underlying operating system, such as memory, file system, devices, processes, and threads.
- Windows User Interface - Create and manage a user interface, such as display output, prompt for user input, and support for user interaction.
With each version of Windows, there have been additions, changes, and deprecations made to its API. Therefore, Win32 does not properly reflect Win32's roots in 16-bit Windows nor its support for 64-bit Windows, which is why Microsoft and others now refer to Win32 as the Windows API.