The Windows Driver Kit (WDK) is a software toolset from Microsoft that enables the development of device drivers for the Microsoft Windows platform. It includes documentation, samples, build environments, and tools for driver developers.
Previously, the WDK was known as Windows Driver Development Kit (DDK) and supported Windows Driver Model (WDM) development. It got its current name when Microsoft released Windows Vista and added the following tools to the kit:
Note: Windows NT DDK, Windows 98 DDK and Windows 2000 DDK are no longer available for download by Microsoft because of Java-related settlements made by Microsoft with Sun Microsystems.
The DDK for Windows 2000 and earlier versions did not include an compiler; instead Visual C++ was used to compile drivers. From the version for Windows XP the DDK and later the WDK include an command line compiler that is used to compile drivers. One of the reasons Microsoft gave for including an compiler was that the quality of drivers would improve if they were compiled with the same version of the compiler that was used to compile Windows itself while Visual C++ is targeted to application development and has an different product cycle with more frequent changes.