Category: GUIs

Windows UI in 2022

Things are weird.

Like many other people, I unexpectedly found myself stuck at home without much to do in early 2020. To stay sane, I set about answering a question I’d had for a while: what’s the deal with native GUI frameworks on Windows these days?

It’s rarely obvious which of Microsoft’s several supported technologies is the best choice for a new project, and Windows doesn’t have the same culture of idiomatic+consistent native GUIs as macOS. After months of obsessive escapism focus I emerged with a decent understanding of the problem space; let’s start with an overview of the technologies in use today:

Win32

This is kind of a catch-all term for the old-school way to build a Windows application using arcane, less-than-ergonomic C APIs. This is unpleasant and your application will look ugly, but one big advantage is that the Win32 APIs will live forever and they underpin all the other UI frameworks.

It’s well worth your time to learn a bit of this (read Charles Petzold’s book), but it’s rare to see people building pure-Win32 GUIs these days.

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