Developing with the Windows Shell


Windows Shell is the container inside of which the entire user interface is presented, including the Task bar, the Desktop, Windows explorer, as well as many of the dialog boxes and interface controls.

In Windows 3.0, the original Shell was implemented as a native Win16 DLL with a corresponding API. It featured a multiple, overlapping windows and the Program Manager for browsing and managing the file system. Windows 95 featured many UI improvements, a new Windows Explorer, and a new COM-based platform and corresponding APIs. Microsoft Internet Explorer 3 added Internet shortcuts and browser extensions. Each subsequent version of Windows and Internet Explorer resulted in additional capabilities and a corresponding expansion of the Win32 and COM APIs. The runtime for the Shell is distributed over a number of dynamic link libraries. For more information, see Roadmap for the Windows Shell.

Shell features in Windows Vista® that address data and metadata include the Synchronization Manager, Live Icons, rich previews, and property handlers. Developing for Control Panel is discussed in the Fundamentals section of Windows Vista Management in the Windows SDK, Developing for the Control Panel.

This section provides information about changes in the following areas:



Developing with Common File Dialogs

Describes how to program common dialogs ― the generic file, file open, and file save. These dialogs are new in Windows Vista.

Developing for the Desktop Window Manager (DWM)

Describes the new engine for managing the visual layout and display of windows on the desktop. Introduces the new set of Shell APIs.

Developing with Windows Explorer

Describes the architecture of the new Windows Vista Explorer and how developers can best use its components. Developing with Internet Explorer® (IE) introduces the IE platform, some ways in which the developer can leverage the platform, and lists the primary changes in IE 7.

Resources: New Shell Interfaces

Lists, by category, the new Shell interfaces for Windows Vista.

Resources: New Shell Functions

Supplies a grouped list of new Shell functions in Windows Vista.

Community Additions