Q. What is the Windows SDK?
A. The Microsoft Windows SDK is a set of tools, code samples, documentation, compilers, headers, and libraries that developers can use to create applications that run on Microsoft Windows operating systems. The Windows SDK combines and replaces two formerly separate SDKs: the Platform SDK and the .NET Framework SDK. You can use the Windows SDK to write applications using managed (.NET Framework) or native (Win32) programming models.
Q. What operating systems does the Windows SDK support?
A. Windows SDKs include content for all Microsoft operating systems supported by the Microsoft Support Lifecycle. The Windows SDKs are largely cumulative, so with each release you get most of content from the previous release for all supported OSes, plus the new content. The latest SDK, the Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 3.5SP1, has the content needed to develop on or for Windows 7, Server 2008R2, Server 2008, Windows Vista, Windows XP. This SDK supports development for the .NET Framework 3.5 (SP1), but also supports creating applications for earlier versions of the Framework.
Q. What platform architectures does the Windows SDK support?
A. The newest release of the SDK contains support for the x86, x64 and Itanium (IA64) platforms. Earlier SDKs have mixed support. See the Windows SDK Archive for more information to learn more.
Q. How can I get the Windows SDKs?
A. The Windows SDK is available on the Microsoft Download Center, in ISO and Web-download formats. You can install the entire SDK (the default option) or choose to install only some SDK components, such as code samples demonstrating native development or tools for managed development. Some Windows SDK components are also included in Microsoft Visual Studio. You can always find links to download the SDKs on the MSDN Windows SDK Developer Center.
Q. What’s the Difference between the Windows SDK and the legacy Platform SDK (PSDK)?
A. The Windows SDK is the successor and replacement to the Platform SDK and the .NET Framework SDK. The Windows SDK supports development with the Win32 programming model on x86, x64, and Itanium platform architectures, and also supports development with the .NET Framework programming model. Windows SDKs include most of the content found in recent PSDKs for all supported OSes, plus content for the .NET Framework. The PSDKs do not include content for the .NET Framework programming model. Some of the legacy PSDKs are still available for download but in most cases the more recent Windows SDKs are a better choice. See the Windows SDK Archive for more information to learn more.
Q. How do I decide which SDK is right for me?
A. Several versions of the Windows SDK and earlier Platform SDKs (PSDK) are available. Generally, you will want the most recent SDK, which supports several Windows operating systems. Some developers have particular development requirements that call for an earlier SDK. You will want to consider what version of Windows you will be installing the SDK on and building applications for, and which version of Visual Studio and/ or the .NET Framework you will want support for.See the Windows SDK Archive for more information to learn more.
Q. Where is the best place to find information about the SDK?
A. The MSDN Windows SDK Developer Center is the place to find resources and links to Windows SDK products, release notes, technical articles, and more. All other SDK resources can be reached from here, so this is the best place to start if you aren’t sure where to look for information. The Windows SDK Blog contains articles about using the SDK, in-depth information about the content in the SDK, release announcements, news and troubleshooting instructions. The MSDN Windows SDK Forum is available for peer-to-peer support for topics related specifically to the Windows SDK, giving you a place to post questions and get answers from other developers, Microsoft MVPs, and Microsoft product unit team members.
Q. Where can I get support for the SDK?
A. Late-arriving issues and workarounds are posted in the online Release Notes. The MSDN Windows SDK Forum is available for peer-to-peer support for topics related specifically to the Windows SDK. The Windows SDK Blog contains and news and troubleshooting instructions. Microsoft Professional Support for Developers provides incident-based access to Microsoft support professionals. MSDN online support provides access to Developer Support search, support incident submission, technical and product information, support highlights, service packs, downloads, webcasts, and MSDN Online member communities.