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What exactly does "backend" mean?

OK, so I've configured an OpenLDAP server and 3 clients. I've seen references to useing different "backends". This would seem to imply that one could first install an LDAP server and use, for example, MySQL as a backend
then, fire up MySQL and do SQL based searches on the database. If this is correct, it would be most useful.

Also can anyone point me at a good tutorial for authenticateing Win2K and WinXP clients off of OpenLDAP?
Can this even be done? My research to date suggests that it cannot.

Toss me a bone here. ;)