In the early days of the Internet, Windows users had to install an application called "Trumpet Winsock" in order to use Internet apps like e-mail, FTP, WWW, etc. There were competitors, but Trumpet seemed to be the most popular. Some time shortly thereafter, this all became part of Windows and Trumpet seemed to vanish. How did Microsoft acquire or replace them?

  • 5
    As far as I understand it, they simply put a socket API (which was originally part of BSD Unix, so was freely available for them to copy the API definition) into Windows, and thereafter there was no need for an add-on to be installed. I don't believe there was anything particularly interesting about the way they did this, just a case of the add-ons becoming obsolete because they only existed due to a missing feature in the OS, so once it was added there was no reason for anyone else to use them.
    – Jules
    Mar 5, 2018 at 14:21
  • Windows 3.x was not a full OS, so there was initially no requirement to include full networking functionality into windows - the DOS beneath, however, also did not offer it,,, May 6, 2018 at 0:09
  • @rackandboneman windows 1x and 2x were hardly more than a shell for DOS, but windows 3x was pretty much a full OS. It did call into DOS for a lot of functionality, but it had its own kernel, drivers and APIs. I suppose it comes down to your definition of "full OS" though.
    – PC Luddite
    Mar 6 at 22:01

1 Answer 1


Microsoft didn’t take over Winsock. Winsock, the Windows socket API, is a socket API (similar to BSD sockets) which was designed by a number of engineers (including two from Microsoft) following a bird-of-a-feather session at fall 1991 Interop conference, and released in mid-1992. Trumpet Winsock is an implementation of a TCP/IP stack (including SLIP and PPP for dial-up) supporting the Winsock API; other implementations were available, but Trumpet ended up being the most popular in the mid-nineties (most ISPs provided it as part of their connection kits, alongside or instead of KA9Q which was used under DOS).

Winsock-compatible applications, such as Netscape Navigator and Eudora, were written to use the Winsock API, and worked with any compliant implementation of Winsock.

Two sets of Microsoft tools ended up replacing Trumpet Winsock and other Winsock implementations in Windows, albeit only Windows for Workgroups version 3.11 (which was very, very popular before Windows 95 and ended up largely replacing all previous versions of Windows):

  • in early 1994, Microsoft’s implementation of TCP/IP for WfWG 3.11 — this used Windows for Workgroups’ support for network cards, and added TCP/IP support on top, but lacked any support for dial-up, making it mostly useless for home users;
  • in April 1996, Internet Explorer 2 for Windows 3.1, which included the Microsoft TCP/IP stack and a dialler, providing support for dial-up connections to the Internet.

Windows 95, either service release 1 and later (February 1996), or the first release with the Plus! pack, installed a TCP/IP stack and dialler as standard. The TCP/IP stack shipped with the first release of Windows 95, but wasn’t installed by default. Windows NT 3.5 also included Winsock.

So Microsoft made Trumpet Winsock and co. obsolete by integrating the corresponding features in the operating system, late in the game for Windows 3, and as standard in Windows 95. Microsoft’s implementation of the TCP/IP stack was independent of Trumpet Winsock’s. The Winsock Programmer’s FAQ has a detailed article on the history of Winsock, including an explanation of why it took so long for Microsoft to build in support for TCP/IP into its operating systems; the alt.winsock FAQ is also interesting to read in this context.

  • Microsoft kept the API used by Trumpet Winsock, while replacing the stack underneath, right? My recollection is that the same apps worked fine with new Windows and without Trumpet. That's why it seemed strange.
    – Brian H
    Mar 5, 2018 at 17:54
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    Trumpet and the Microsoft stack are both implementations of the Windows Socket API, which is why applications worked with either. The API itself was designed by a number of people, two of which were Microsoft employees. Mar 5, 2018 at 18:04
  • My recollection was that the original Windows 95 came with the TCP stack natively, not via Plus! Are you sure? Plus! did come with Internet Explorer. Mar 6, 2018 at 3:58
  • Ah yes @Euro, thanks; it was available in 95, but not installed by default. Mar 6, 2018 at 5:23
  • From memory you needed the plus pack to get auto dialling.
    – PeterI
    Mar 6, 2018 at 9:12

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