Home : Software Terms : WIMP Definition


Stands for "Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointer." WIMP is an acronym that emerged in the 1980s and describes the graphical user interface (GUI) of personal computers. It includes both Windows and Macintosh interfaces, as well as other less common operating systems, such as Linux and NeXT.

While the terms GUI and WIMP are sometimes used interchangeably, WIMP is technically a subset of GUIs. This means all WIMP interfaces are GUIs, but not all GUIs are WIMPs. WIMP-based systems are designed to be used with a keyboard and mouse, since the mouse controls the pointer (or cursor) and the keyboard is used to enter data. Other GUIs may support different types of input, such as a touchscreen display.

Modern GUIs, many of which have a touchscreen interface, are sometimes referred to as "post-WIMP" interfaces. Examples include iOS and Android, which are popular smartphone and tablet operating systems. These interfaces include icons, but often lack windows and menus. Since no mouse is required for a touchscreen interface, there is no pointer.

NOTE: WIMP also stands for "Windows, IIS, MySQL, and PHP," which is variation of WAMP. It is a software package commonly installed on Windows-based web servers.

Updated: November 7, 2014

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