Inter-process Communication in Windows: Explanation | Types

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  • In the world of computers, processes need to talk to each other. That is where inter-process communication comes in. It’s like a conversation between different programs, which is crucial for modern computing. In this blog post, I will explain what IPC is and why it is important. Plus we will focus on inter-process communication in OS and IPC in Windows, the world’s most popular operating system.

    If you have ever wondered how your computer pieces chat with each other, you are in the right place, let’s dive in.

    What Is Inter-process Communication (IPC)?

    Inter-process Communication is like a conversation between computer programs. It is how different parts of computer software share information internally.  Imagine it as messages pass between apps to work together. IPC is vital for multitasking, making your computer do many things simultaneously.

    It is like teamwork for your programs, helping them share data, and tasks, and effectively getting things done. In simple words, it’s how your computer’s software talk to each other.

    You can watch the video below for in-depth information about what is IPC

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    What Is the Purpose of IPC?

    The purpose of inter-process communication (IPC) is to enable different processes to communicate and work together. IPC allows these processes to share data, exchange messages, and coordinate actions.

    It’s essential for processes like multitasking, parallel processing, and distributed systems where various programs must communicate and synchronize to achieve a common goal.

    Types of IPC

    Inter-process communication is generally of three types. Let’s read about each in the space below.

    1. Message passing:

      In message passing, processes communicate by sending and receiving messages. It is like sending letters.

    2. Shared memory:

      It allows processes to share common memory space. It is used in situations where processes need to exchange lots of data quickly. But make sure you don’t overwrite.

    3. Sockets:

      Sockets are like phone calls. They let processes communicate on different computers over a network. Use them when processes need to communicate over the internet, like web browsers fetching web pages.

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    Inter-Process Communication in Windows

    • inter-process communication in OS

    Interprocess communication in an operating system refers to the various methods and mechanisms that enable different processes to communicate with one another. These processes are independent programs running on the same and various machines to communicate and exchange data. IPC is essential for tasks like sharing information, coordinating actions, and synchronizing processes in a multitasking environment. It enables processes to work together. It is crucial for building complex systems.

    People also like to read: What are the best ways to develop iOS apps on Windows?

    • Windows IPC Mechanisms

    Windows as an operating system provides several IPC mechanisms for processes to communicate. Some of the notable ones include:

    Named Pipes:

    Named pipes provide a method for bidirectional communication between processes, regardless of whether they are located on the same or different machines. They are commonly used for tasks like interprocess communication between client and server.


    It provides a platform to interact with server and client patterns between the processes. COM is like a framework for enabling communication between software components. It is widely used in Windows for building reusable and interoperable software.

      1. Clipboard:It is used to save data. For example, when you use copy or cut commands on any application, Windows saves that data into Clipboard. It is not a permanent storage
      2. Copy Data:WM_copydata is a message to share data with another process. Send message API of win32 and COPYDATASTRCUT as a parameter.
      3. DDE:DDE or dynamic data exchange, is a guideline and protocol for sharing data between processes. It allows one application to send data and commands to another facilitating communication and data sharing.
      4. Windows Sockets:It is also called Winsock. It allows processes to communicate over the network, making it essential for applications that require internet connectivity. Multiple protocols such as TCP/IP and UDP are used to transport data through the combination of machine IP and port address. The process timing can vary because of different versions of Windows. If you want to gain more knowledge about Windows 11, check out our blog.
      5. File Mapping:File mapping allows multiple processes to share a joint reign of memory by mapping a file into the address space of each process. Create files on the disk that will work as the shared memory region. Mapping the file allows read data from and write to the shared memory region.
      6. RPC:RPC, or remote procedure call, enables communication over a network to invoke a function in a separate process. RPC facilitates maintaining a tight relationship between the client and server.
      7. Mailslot:It offers only one-way communication unless users create mail slots more than one. One mailslot for server and one for client. The client’s mailslot sends a message to the server mailslot. Mailslots are helpful for broadcasting messages over the network.


    You must have understood what is Inter-process communication and its types. It is a silent conductor enabling smooth communication between computers over the internet in the Windows world. From Names Pipes to COM, IPC emperors software work together, forming the backbone of modern computing.
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    Saikat Ghosh working as a Business & HR head at mobile app development company, Technource. He is an Electrical engineer by education and studied management from IIM, Calcutta. He has worked last 23 years in client-facing roles like Marketing, Sales, and Support. He loves to work with on-demand app development, Marketing & Sales strategies, brainstorm new ideas, and learn from people. When he is off from his regular job, he works for his theatre group.

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