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This book shows you how to write programs that run under Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, and Windows NT 5.0. These programs are written in the C programming language and use the native Windows application programming interfaces (APIs). As I'll discuss later in this chapter, this is not the only way to write programs that run under Windows. However, it is important to understand the Windows APIs regardless of what you eventually use to write your code.
As you probably know, Windows 98 is the latest incarnation of the graphical operating system that has become the de facto standard for IBM-compatible personal computers built around 32-bit Intel microprocessors such as the 486 and Pentium. Windows NT is the industrial-strength version of Windows that runs on PC compatibles as well as some RISC (reduced instruction set computing) workstations.
There are three prerequisites for using this book. First, you should be familiar with Windows 98 from a user's perspective. You cannot hope to write applications for Windows without understanding its user interface. For this reason, I suggest that you do your program development (as well as other work) on a Windows-based machine using Windows applications.
Second, you should know C. If you don't know C, Windows programming is probably not a good place to start. I recommend that you learn C in a character-mode environment such as that offered under the Windows 98 MS-DOS Command Prompt window. Windows programming sometimes involves aspects of C that don't show up much in character-mode programming; in those cases, I'll devote some discussion to them. But for the most part, you should have a good working familiarity with the language, particularly with C structures and pointers. Some knowledge of the standard C run-time library is helpful but not required.
Third, you should have installed on your machine a 32-bit C compiler and development environment suitable for doing Windows programming. In this book, I'll be assuming that you're using Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0, which can be purchased separately or as a part of the Visual Studio 6.0 package.
That's it. I'm not going to assume that you have any experience at all programming for a graphical user interface such as Windows.