OWL was introduced by Borland in 1991 and eventually deprecated in 1997 in favor of their Visual Component Library (VCL). Its primary competitor was the Microsoft Foundation Class Library (MFC). OWLNext, an open-source project driven by the OWL user community, has continued the maintenance of OWL, ensuring that the library and applications that use it work with the latest version of Windows and modern C++ compilers.
In 1995 Borland released Delphi, its first release of an Object Pascal IDE and language. Up until that point, Borland's Turbo Pascal for DOS and Windows was largely a procedural language, with minimal object-oriented features, and building UI frameworks with the language required using frameworks like Turbo Vision and Object Windows Library. OWL, a similar framework to MFC, required writing code to create UI objects.
Object Windows Library (OWL), designed for use with Borland's Turbo C++ compiler, was a competing product introduced by Borland around the same time. Eventually, Borland discontinued OWL development and licensed the distribution of the MFC headers, libraries and DLLs from Microsoft for a short time, though it never offered fully integrated support for MFC. Borland later released Visual Component Library to replace the OWL framework.