A socket is a communications connection point (endpoint) that you can name and address in a network. Socket programming shows how to use socket APIs to establish communication links between remote and local processes.

The processes that use a socket can reside on the same system or different systems on different networks. Sockets are useful for both stand-alone and network applications. Sockets allow you to exchange information between processes on the same machine or across a network, distribute work to the most efficient machine, and they easily allow access to centralized data. Socket application program interfaces (APIs) are the network standard for TCP/IP. A wide range of operating systems support socket APIs.