One of the most confusing things I experienced in recent time was to understand how Microsoft called applications installed from Windows Store and the Start Screen interface officially.
So many names were floating around that it seemed that even Microsoft was not sure how to name apps or the new interface.
It all started with Metro apps for instance but Microsoft could not use that term and switched to others as a consequence. Problem here was that the company used several terms instead, for instance Windows Store Apps or Modern UI Apps which was highly confusing.
To make matters worse, desktop apps, that is regular programs not installed from the store and only compatible with PCs, were sometimes referred to as apps as well.
Good news is that Microsoft seems to have learnt from the past. Don Box, Microsoft engineer, announced at WinHEC 2015 last week during his Developing for the Windows 10 Hardware Platform how apps and programs are called in Windows 10.
According to him, there are two terms (well actually three) that Microsoft will use to name and differentiate the two different application types: Windows Apps, which refers to apps created for the universal app platform, and Windows desktop Applications, which refers to programs.
The third term that Microsoft will use sometimes in place of Windows Apps is Universal Apps.
Probably the easiest way to distinguish the two currently is that Windows Apps are installed from Windows Store while desktop applications are not.
The core differences between Windows Apps and Windows Desktop Applications are listed on the screenshot below.
Apps run on all devices running Windows 10 including laptops, desktop PCs, the Xbox, Internet of Things and others while desktop programs are limited to PCs only.
It is clear that Microsoft is pushing towards Windows Apps and somewhat away from legacy PC applications even though those are fully supported on PCs running Windows 10. There is a clear focus on apps as Windows expands to other device types besides PCs and Phones though and I'd expect that push to continue with more force once Windows 10 comes out.
Good news is that we can finally lay Metro, Metro Apps, Modern UI Apps and Windows Store Apps to rest and concentrate on just the two names from now on.
Side Note for devs: Microsoft released a Developer Tooling Preview to Windows Insiders to give developers the opportunity to use new platform capabilities such as adaptive UX or user controls. Adaptive UX for instance enables developers to use a single UI for all screen sizes that adapts to screens automatically while user controls determines how users interact with apps to make available the right controls (e.g. touch or mouse).
I would have picked Windows Programs instead of Windows Desktop Apps for programs running only on PCs as it seems a better fit to me.
What about you? How did you call apps and programs up until now? Would you have picked different names if you were in Microsoft's shoes? (via Paul Thurott)
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