Windows Runtime (WinRT) is the "successor"* of Windows API (Win32 API). It supports development in C++/WinRT (standard C++) and C++/CX (Component Extensions, a language based on C++) [C++/WinRT is recommended], as well as other scripting and managed languages.
Alternatively there are several 'high level' and somtimes platform-independent GUI-libraries available, as i.e. wxWidgets (that i'm using), Qt, fltk etc..
I use wxWidgets because it is open source, well documented and easy to learn. Also there is not so much 'overhed' needed to be programmed 'manually'. So i.e. a resizable and closeable main-window can be created with only a few program-lines like this: