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NT 4.0 for Developers

Microsoft will be releasing updated versions of the Win32 SDK and Driver Developer's Kit (DDK) to reflect the changes for NT 4.0. Developers who subscribe to Level 2 of the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) will be getting beta copies as part of their normal subscription. Microsoft will update the SDK to reflect new APIs in the core system and additional services such as the Internet Server API (ISAPI).

A survey of all new APIs would read like, well, the SDK documents, and we certainly don't have room for all that here. However, I'd like to draw your attention to one new system API, LoadUserProfile. The Service Control Manager calls this API before a service is started under a user account and sets up the profile to have an HKEY_CURRENT_USER registry key. This API is important because, although previous versions of NT let you run services as a particular user, they don't give you access to the corresponding user area in the registry. Other API sets of notable interest include the following.

  • Cryptography API: CAPI gives developers several functions for encoding data and messages to secure storage and transmission. You can encrypt and digitally sign data, and these functions also let you ensure data integrity. As is the case with the TAPI architecture, separate components known as a cryptographic service providers (CSP) perform the operations. Microsoft ships one CSP, RSA Base Provider, with NT 4.0 and expects other providers soon.
  • Internet Client (Sweeper): While the server side of the Internet puzzle receives of press coverage, you read relatively little about Microsoft's client-side tools. Loosely grouped into a collection of tools, code-named Sweeper, these client-side tools will eventually make it into the Win32 SDK. Sweeper lets developers build Internet-enabled applications easily by either integrating them into the Internet Explorer or using the Sweeper services directly (for instance, to get current business information off the World Wide Web and feed it into an existing business application). Currently, Sweeper includes the following bits and pieces.
    • Datapath properties with progress notification
    • URL Monikers
    • New OLE controls (OCX) specification, which handles downloading self-registering OLE controls over the Internet. This is the mechanism that controls will use that will be authored in the next major version of VB, which is due out this year.
  • WININET.DLL, which is primarily an abstract layer on top of Windows Sockets (WinSock).
  • OLE Scripting and VB Script, which is a carefully tailored subset of Microsoft's Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) engine that currently ships in VB 4.0 and with several Microsoft Office applications.

Microsoft has been uncharacteristically open about its Internet development plans. If you want to know more, be sure to visit the company's Web site ( You can either drill down into the Internet area from the Microsoft home page or use this URL:

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