Microsoft Windows SDK
|Stable release||8.0a / November 15, 2012|
|Operating system||Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows 8|
|Website||Windows SDK Developer Center on MSDN|
Microsoft Windows SDK, Platform SDK, and .NET Framework SDK are software development kits from Microsoft that contain header files, libraries, samples, documentation and tools required to develop applications for Microsoft Windows and .NET Framework.
The difference between these three SDKs lies in their area of specialization: Platform SDK specializes in developing applications for Windows 2000, XP and Windows Server 2003. .NET Framework SDK is dedicated to developing applications for .NET Framework 1.1 and .NET Framework 2.0. Windows SDK is the successor of the two and supports developing applications for Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, .NET Framework 3.0, .NET Framework 3.5, and .NET Framework 4.0. It contains extensive documentation and around 800 samples.
Obtaining the SDK
Windows SDKs are available free on the Microsoft Download Center, in ISO and Web-download formats. Users can install the entire SDK or choose to install only some SDK components, such as code samples demonstrating only native development or only the tools for managed development. Some Windows SDK components are also included in Microsoft Visual Studio.
Microsoft SDK version release history
|Version||Windows SDK Version Number||Build Number||Release Date||Download||Notes|
|Microsoft Platform SDK April 1999||?||?||1999-04||?||MSDN subscription CD-ROM disc.
Last Platform SDK to officially install on Windows 95
|Microsoft Platform SDK September 1999||?||?||1999-09||?||MSDN subscription CD-ROM disc.
Last Platform SDK to fully support Visual C++ 5.0
|Microsoft Platform SDK February 2001||?||?||2001-02||?|
|Microsoft Platform SDK June 2001||?||?||2001-06||?||MSDN subscription CD-ROM disc.
Last Platform SDK to officially develop for Windows 95. (Does not officially install on Windows 95)
|Microsoft Platform SDK August 2001||?||?||2001-08||?||MSDN subscription CD-ROM disc.
Last Platform SDK to unofficially develop for Windows 95. (Does not officially install on Windows 95)
|Microsoft Platform SDK July 2002||?||?||2002-07||?|
|Microsoft Platform SDK August 2002||?||?||2002-08||?|
|Microsoft Platform SDK October 2002||?||?||2002-10||?|
|Microsoft Platform SDK February 2003||?||5.2.3790.0||2003-02||Download (links on MSDN forum post)||Last version with VC6 support|
|.NET Framework 1.1 SDK (included in Visual Studio 2003)||?||1.1.4322.573||2003-03-29||Download||Does not include the Platform SDK|
|Microsoft Platform SDK for Windows XP SP2||?||5.1.2600.2180||2004-08||Download (links on MSDN forum post)|
|Windows Server 2003 SP1 Platform SDK||?||5.2.3790.1830.15||2005-05-02||Download|
|Windows Server 2003 R2 Platform SDK||?||5.2.3790.2075.51||2006-03-14||Download||Also suggested by MS to work with VS6 |
|.NET Framework 2.0 SDK (Included in Visual Studio 2005 Professional)||?||2.0.50727.42||2006-11-29||Download||Does not include the Platform SDK|
|Microsoft Windows Software Development Kit for Windows Vista and .NET Framework 3.0 Runtime Components||v6.0||6.0.6000.16384||2006-10-30||The Windows SDK for Vista has been finalized and is now available for download||Now only Web Installer available The C++ compilers in this SDK release support the /analyze key.|
|Windows Vista Update & .NET 3.0 SDK||v6.1||6.1.6000.16384.10||2007-03-22||Download||First unified .NET and Platform SDK. Does not support Visual Studio .NET 2003 and Microsoft Visual C++ Toolkit 2003|
|Included in Visual Studio 2008||v6.0a||6.1.6723.1||2007-11-19||Download|
|Windows Server 2008 & .NET 3.5 SDK||v6.1||6.0.6001.18000.367||2008-02-05||Download||.NET Framework 3.5|
|Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 3.5 SP 1||v7.0||6.1.7600.16385||2009-07-24||Download|
|Included in Visual Studio 2010||v7.0a||6.1.7600.16385||2010-04-12||Download||.NET Framework 4|
|Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 4||v7.1||7.1.7600.0.30514||2010-05-21||Download|
|Included in Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 (or later)||v8.0A||7.1.51106||?||?|
|Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 8 and .NET Framework 4.5||v8.0||6.2.9200.16384||2012-11-15||Download||.NET Framework 4.5, Windows Store apps and Integrated DirectX SDK|
Targeting Windows Vista development with the Windows SDK
Starting with Windows Vista, the Platform SDK has been replaced by the Windows SDK. The change of name is to better reflect the content included, and to offer the documentation, samples, build environment and tools needed to develop Windows applications all in one place. Also, the SDK for .NET Framework 3.0 (previously known as WinFX) /.NET Framework 3.5 and .NET Framework 2.0 (which is also now a part of .NET Framework 3.0) is included in the Windows SDK. The Tablet PC SDK and the Windows Media SDK (Windows Media Player 11 SDK, Windows Media Format 11 SDK and the Windows Media Device Manager 11 SDK) are also included. Thus, all the APIs which ship with Windows Vista / Windows Server 2008 and the latest compilers are now integrated into the Windows SDK. However, the .NET Framework 1.1 SDK is not included since the .NET Framework 1.1 does not ship with Windows Vista. Also, the Windows Media Center SDK for Windows Vista ships separately.
The Windows SDK allows the user to specify where the SDK will be installed and what components will be installed where. This new SDK integrates better with Visual Studio, so multiple copies of tools are not installed. Information shown can be filtered by content, such as showing only new Windows Vista content, Win32 development content, .NET Framework development content; or by language or a specific technology.
SDK support for older operating systems
A developer might want to use an older SDK for a particular reason. For example, the Windows Server 2003 Platform SDK released in February 2003 was the last SDK to provide full support of Visual Studio 6.0. Some older PSDK versions can still be downloaded from the Microsoft Download center; others can be ordered on CD/DVD.
The Platform SDK also contains the resources (tools, documentation, samples, etc.) and compilers needed for 64-bit development on x86, x64 and Itanium (IA-64) platform architectures.
The Windows SDK documentation includes the following:
- Manuals documenting managed code development
- Manuals documenting Win32 development
- "New in Windows Vista" topics;
- All SDK documentation is part of the online and disc-based MSDN Library
Tools, headers and libraries
The Windows SDK contains the following.
- For Win32 development:
- 1,915 headers
- 348 libraries
- 100 tools
- For .NET (managed code) development:
- 14 reference assemblies supporting .NET, Tablet PC, Windows PowerShell, MMC, etc.
- 33 IntelliSense files
- 70 .NET 2.0 tools + 10 .NET 3.0 tools + 35 .NET 4.0 tools
- For Visual Studio 2005/2008/2010 integration
- Utilities to enable Visual Studio 2005/2008 to easily use Windows SDK headers and libraries
- Visual Studio 2005/2008 wizards for creating Windows Media Player applications
Some users may encounter problems with Visual Studio 2010 and recent Windows SDK in a non-English environment due to a bug in Windows SDK configurator.
SDK sample content
The SDK contains samples in the following topic areas:
- 430 Windows Presentation Foundation samples
- 140 Windows Communication Foundation samples
- 60 Windows Workflow Foundation samples
- 200 new-to-Windows Vista (Win32/COM-based) samples
- 23 cross-technology samples
Windows SDK samples
.NET Framework (managed code) samples
Starting with Windows SDK version 7.1 (released May 19, 2010), the .NET Framework samples do not ship with the "Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 4". They can be downloaded from .
Win32 (unmanaged code) samples
The Windows samples demonstrate Windows operating system features primarily using native code. These unmanaged Win32 samples are not included in the documentation. They are installed as loose files to subdirectories of \Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\[version number]\samples. This content can be deselected during SDK setup. A few samples with some managed code (PowerShell, Tablet PC) install with the Win32 samples. The Win32 samples directory layout for the Windows SDK is:
\Begin \Com \DataAccess \Multimedia \NetDS \Security \SysMgmt \TabletPC \Web \WinBase \WinUI
- "Windows SDK: Download Windows Server 2008 SDK and more". Microsoft Developer Network. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 6 December 2009.
- "Windows SDK Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)". Microsoft Developer Network. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 6 December 2009.
- Windows SDK Archive
- Windows® Server 2003 SP1 Platform SDK Web Install, Microsoft Download Center "The last SDK that will work with VC 6.0 is the February 2003 Edition, you can order a CD on the fulfillment site."
- Microsoft Windows SDK Blog: New samples in Win 7 SDK: Direct2D and DirectWrite
- Released: Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 4
- Microsoft Software Development Kits CD Order
- Windows SDK MSDN Developer Center
- Windows SDK Blog
- Windows SDK Online Documentation
- MSDN Windows SDK Developer Forum
- MSDNTV: Introduction to the new Windows SDK