Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC)


Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC) is a library in Microsoft that provides a set of functions, constants, data types, and classes to simplify creating applications for the Windows operating system. Developed in C++, it encapsulates both the complex and simpler elements of the Windows API for easier programming. Essentially, MFC is used to create applications with graphical user interfaces and with advanced graphics capabilities.


The keyword “Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC)” would be phonetically expressed as:”Mai-kroh-soft Foun-day-shun Kla-ses (Em-Ef-Cee)”

Key Takeaways

1. Abstracts Windows Programming: Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC) greatly simplifies the process of developing applications for Windows by abstracting complicated Windows API’s. MFC provides classes that encapsulate Windows objects such as files, windows, and devices, which makes it much easier to work with these components.

2. Object-Oriented Framework: MFC is an object-oriented framework and is written in C++. This means developers can leverage the power of object-oriented programming, which includes abstraction, encapsulation, polymorphism, and inheritance when building applications with MFC.

3. Compatibility: One of the key benefits of MFC is its compatibility with different versions of Windows. MFC ensures that applications created with it are forward compatible with newer versions of Windows, which reduces the need for developers to frequently update their applications whenever a new version is released.


Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC) is a vital technology term because it refers to a library that encapsulates both the Windows API and the functionality of the C++ standard library within an object-oriented framework. This library provides a structure for developers to create applications for the Windows platform. The MFC library is crucial because it simplifies complex programming tasks, thus saving effort and time for programmers. Moreover, it aids in creating a program’s user interface and handling Windows system events. By providing a robust and secure foundation, it shortens software development cycles, ensuring that developers deliver more efficient and reliable applications.


Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC) is a library that encapsulates portions of the Windows API in C++ classes, which can then be utilized for developing Windows applications. The primary purpose of MFC is to streamline the development process of desktop applications for the Microsoft Windows operating system by providing reusable custom classes. With this, developers can avoid having to code large chunks from scratch, thus minimizing potential coding errors and ensuring overall development efficiency.MFC provides classes for dealing with windows, dialogs, menus, GDI objects, files, sockets, and many other things. As such, its purpose extends to creating user interfaces, handling system and user events, managing databases, and using network resources. This proves useful in real-world application programming as it simplifies complex programming tasks and lets developers focus on the logic and functionality of the application. As a result, the development time and costs are substantially reduced.


1. Microsoft Visual Studio: Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC) are extensively used in Microsoft’s own product, Visual Studio. It is a development environment where developers write codes for Windows applications. The extensive library of MFC provides the necessary reusable components, thus decreasing the programming efforts and increasing productivity. 2. Adobe Systems: Adobe has utilized Microsoft Foundation Classes in a number of their earlier software products for Windows. Notably, software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere had components built using MFC, supporting the user interface and system interactions.3. AutoCAD: AutoCAD, a widely recognized software used for drafting and designing by architects and engineers, reportedly used MFC for the development of their Windows version. The software utilizes the extensive library of MFC for creating and manipulating graphical objects, and for implementing their user interface.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

**Q1: What is Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC)?**A: Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC) is a library of C++ classes, functions and macros which wrap parts of the Win32 API to provide a simpler, object-oriented interface for developers. It simplifies the process of developing Windows desktop applications.**Q2: Who developed MFC?**A: MFC was developed by Microsoft.**Q3: What types of applications can be developed using MFC?**A: MFC can be used for creating a wide range of Windows Applications, such as databases, dynamic link libraries, document viewer, games, and interactive applications.**Q4: How can I learn MFC?**A: You can learn MFC through tutorials available online, books on the subject, Microsoft’s official documentation, and through various online developer communities.**Q5: Do I need prior programming experience to use MFC?**A: Yes, you should have a strong understanding of C++ and basic Windows programming concepts in order to efficiently use MFC.**Q6: Is MFC outdated? Should I still learn it?**A: While MFC is not the newest technology for creating Windows-based applications, it is still widely used in legacy systems. Therefore, gaining knowledge of MFC can be beneficial, especially if you’re involved in maintaining or enhancing such systems.**Q7: Can I use MFC with .NET Framework?**A: Yes, Microsoft provides a way to use MFC components in .NET applications through a process known as ‘interoperability’.**Q8: Does MFC support Unicode?**A: Yes, MFC provides support for Unicode implementation.**Q9: What alternatives are there to MFC?**A: Alternatives to MFC include WinForms, WPF, UWP, and QT.**Q10: Where can I find MFC in my installed Visual Studios?**A: If installed, MFC can typically be found in the VC++ Directories list in the settings for your project in Visual Studio.

Related Tech Terms

  • C++ Programming Language
  • Object-oriented Software Development
  • Visual Studio IDE
  • Windows API
  • ActiveX Controls

Sources for More Information

Table of Contents