We ought to quickly mention named pipes
again. These are a Microsoft technology similar to sockets and have
been part of Windows NT since its inception. As with sockets and
serial ports, you read and write to named pipes. You open them by
passing a suitable network path to
the form \\mymachine\pipe\mypipe.
Named pipes function over whatever network protocol NT is using; it
might be TCP/IP, IPX, or NetBEUI. On Windows, they operate slightly
faster than sockets and can also be secured. They are extensively
used by Microsoft’s networking APIs and back office products.
About the only reason to use named pipes is for their integrated security. Named pipes are fully securable by Windows NT, and you can rely on Windows reporting a valid and authenticated user at the other end of the pipe. For most communications applications that don’t have a high requirement for security, sockets are often simpler to use, and have the added advantage of being cross-platform.