Windows Color System

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Windows Color System

Version 1.0


The increased use of color content in all forms of digital communication necessitates the implementation of a color management scheme for Microsoft Windows operating systems.

The color management scheme that is used by Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows Millenium, Microsoft Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows XP, and Microsoft Windows Server 2003 is called Image Color Management (ICM) 2.0. The color management scheme that is used by Microsoft Windows Vista is called Windows Color System (WCS) 1.0. The Windows Color System color management scheme is a superset of Image Color Management 2.0 APIs and functionality.

Where Applicable

ICM can be used in all applications based on Windows 98 and later or Windows 2000 and later operating systems. WCS can be used in all applications based on Windows Vista and later operating systems.

Developer Audience

The Windows Color System API is designed for use by C/C++ programmers. Familiarity with the Windows graphical user interface, message-driven architecture, and a working knowledge of color management concepts are required.

Run-time Requirements

Applications that use the ICM API require Windows 98 and later or Windows 2000 and later. Applications that use the WCS API require Windows Vista and later. For specific run-time information on a function, see the Requirements section of the reference page for that function.

See Also



Windows Multimedia

Windows GDI

Color Basics

Basic information about using color and color management in a digital environment.

About WCS

General information about WCS and the need for color management.

Using WCS

Specific information about using WCS and how WCS simplifies using color across all types of devices.


Documentation of specific WCS functions, enumerations, structures, macros, and constants.

WCS Schemas and Algorithms

Documentation of specific WCS schemas and baseline model algorithms.


Make error reports and feature requests directly to Microsoft.