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A Windows sockets (Winsock) is an application programming interface (API) that allows for communication between Windows network software and network services, such as Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). Winsock is based on the Berkeley Unix sockets interface.
Windows sockets API (WSA) is the technical specification for Windows sockets. It includes the Berkeley socket-style routines as well as a set of Windows-specific extensions. Windows sockets provides a standard interface between Windows TCP/IP client applications and the underlying TCP/IP protocol suite.
Operating systems (OS) like Windows 95 and Windows NT includes a data link layer named winsock.dll, which helps to make the Windows programs and the TCP/IP services work together. In addition to the Microsoft winsock.dll version, there are also other versions of winsock.dll available as freeware and shareware. Because there is no specific standard defined for the Windows sockets API, each implementation is unique.
The Winsock program is included as a part of the operating system in Microsoft Windows. A Winsock interface is also available for Mac OS. Organizations like Chameleon offer a suite consisting of a Web browser, a File Transfer Protocol utility, mail utility and other utilities. In the Unix operating system, sockets and TCP/IP are designed to run directly with Unix application programs without requiring a Winsock equivalent.
The Windows sockets API specification consists of two types of interfaces. These include an API for application developers and a service provider interface for network software developers to create and add new network protocols.