The Telephony Application Programming Interface (TAPI) is a Microsoft Windows API, which provides computer telephony integration and enables PCs running Microsoft Windows to use telephone services. Different versions of TAPI are available on different versions of Windows.
With Microsoft Windows 95, TAPI was integrated into the operating system. The first version on Windows 95 was TAPI 1.4. TAPI 1.4 had support for 32-bit applications.
The TAPI standard supports both connections from individual computers and LAN connections serving any number of computers.
In 1997, Microsoft released TAPI version 2.1. This version of TAPI was available as a downloadable update and was the first version to be supported on both the Microsoft Windows 95 and Windows NT/2000 platforms.
TAPI 3.0 was released in 1999 together with Windows 2000. This version enables IP telephony (VoIP) by providing simple and generic methods for making connections between two (using H.323) or more (using IP Multicast) computers and now also offers the ability to access any media streams involved in the connection.
Windows XP included both TAPI 3.1 and TAPI 2.2. TAPI 3.1 supports the Microsoft Component Object Model and provides a set of COM objects to application programmers. This version uses File Terminals which allow applications to record streaming data to a file and play this recorded data back to a stream. A USB Phone TSP (Telephony Service Provider) was also included which allows an application to control a USB phone and use it as a streaming endpoint.
The Telephony Server Application Programming Interface (TSAPI) is a similar standard developed by Novell for NetWare servers.
On the other hand, TAPI 3.x was designed with a COM (Component Object Model) interface. This was done with the intent of making it accessible from managed languages like Java or other environments that provide easy access to COM but don't deal with C-style pointers.
TAPI 3.x has a slightly different set of functionality than TAPI 2.x. The addition of integrated media control was the most significant addition. But TAPI 3.x doesn't include all functionality that TAPI 2.x does, like support for the Phone class.
One very notable issue with TAPI 3.x is the lack of support for managed code (.NET environment). As documented in Microsoft KB Article 841712, Microsoft currently has no plans to support TAPI 3.x directly from .Net programming languages. However, Mark Smith has provided a Managed C++ library called TSP++ 3.0
One often overlooked reason an application developer might choose between TAPI 2.x and TAPI 3.x should be the hardware vendors recommendation. Even though TAPI provides an abstract model of phone lines, telephony applications are still heavily impacted by the specific behavior of the underlying hardware. Troubleshooting behavior issues usually requires both software and hardware vendors to collaborate. Because there is almost a 1:1 relationship between the TAPI Service Provider (TSP) interface and the TAPI 2.x interface, collaboration is often easier if the application is designed using TAPI 2.x. Experience with TAPI 3.x varies significantly between hardware vendors.