I cut my teeth developing for the windows platform with Windows++ by Paul Dilacia. It was about building a framework to wrap the Win32 api. Because of the elegance of Windows++, I never ever liked MFC. I disliked it so much that when I joined Microsoft, one of my ex-coworkers remarked “But you hate Microsoft” to which I replied “No, I hate MFC.”
Anyway, even though most people have moved on to managed code now, Microsoft continues to ship updates to the Windows Template Library. WTL is an extension to the Active Template Library that supports typical Windows applications (controls, dialogs, frame windows, GDI objects, etc). The new 7.1 version support VS.NET 2003, Windows XP and Windows CE.
I wish I had had access to WTL back in the day. I liked it so much better than MFC.