Are the days of Windows UWP applications numbered?
Microsoft has big plans when it released the Windows 10 operating system: make customers forget about Windows 8, reach 1 billion devices running the system in record time, and establish a new application platform and Store.
The platform was renamed several times, you may have heard the terms Metro apps, Windows RT apps, Microsoft Store apps, Windows Store apps, Modern apps, or Universal Platform (UWP) apps.
Microsoft limited availability to the Windows 10 platform which impacted the success of the platform significantly as it excluded the majority of Windows customers from using these apps.
UWP introduced some long awaited changes such as a central repository (the Store) that was used to distribute applications and update them. Problem was, Win32 were not supported, and there was little in terms of value proposition to convert Win32 applications to UWP apps, especially in the beginning.
Microsoft promised that UWP applications would offer better performance and security than their non-Store counterparts but it offered a rough experience especially in the beginning. Microsoft had to clean up the Store multiple times and improve it.
The Desktop App Converter was created to assist developers in converting Win32 applications to the UWP platform.
The company limited certain Windows 10 features, e.g. inking, to UWP applications to put additional pressure on developers to get their apps converted or created as UWP applications in first place.
When VLC launched its UWP app in 2016, it was certainly one of the best media players available in the Microsoft Store at that time (and still is). The desktop version of VLC offered more features and was more powerful than the Store version on the other hand, and there was little reason to use the Store app instead of the desktop version. Paint.net is another example.
The future of apps on Windows
Mary Jo Foley had a chance to talk to Microsoft Corporate VP Kevin Gallo about the future of applications on the Windows platform.
The main takeaway is that Microsoft changed its strategy in regards to applications on the Windows platform. Instead of seeing UWP as the only way forward, Microsoft now wants to treat UWP and Win32 equally.
In other words: UWP is not going away, at least not yet, but Microsoft will introduce UWP exclusive components to Win32 as well. The company started the process already, e.g by launching XAML Islands last year which assisted Win32 developers in introducing UWP exclusive interface elements in their applications.
Foley suggests that Microsoft could be aiming for a new "Microsoft-certified and trusted" program for applications without forcing developers to distribute their apps via the Microsoft Store exclusively.
It appears that Microsoft won't invest any more energy in trying to persuade developers to create UWP applications or convert existing applications to the platform for publication in the Store.
Is Microsoft demoting UWP or elevating Win32? It appears that UWP will play less of a role going forward. Whether that means that UWP will vanish at one point in time or not remains to be seen.
With Windows Mobile as good as dead, there is even less incentive for Microsoft or developers to create UWP applications.
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