Microsoft finally bringing traditional Desktop apps to the Windows Store

Developers can now distribute their Windows desktop apps to people shopping through Windows 10’s app store, with an update from Microsoft Wednesday. These aren’t apps that were built from the ground up for Windows 10, but software and games that can be installed on a Windows-based desktop or laptop. These programs have gone through Microsoft’s Desktop App Converter (announced at Build 2015, codename Project Centennial) to make them compatible with the Universal Windows Platform format. That means these converted Win32 programs will eventually migrate to all Windows 10 devices, including the Xbox One and Windows 10 Phone.


The Desktop App Converter is designed to provide not just a way of bringing Win32 apps into the store; it also provides a transition path so that developers can add UWP-based functionality to their old applications on a piecemeal basis. Evernote, one of the launch applications, uses UWP APIs to include support for Live Tiles and Windows’ notification system. Evernote previously had a Windows Store app, but it didn’t have all of the features of its Win32 desktop app. In this way, developers can create applications that work better on Windows 10 but without having to rewrite them entirely for Windows 10.

“We’re excited to bring our full-featured Evernote app to the Windows Store,” Seth Hitchings, Evernote’s vice president of engineering, said in a press release. “The Desktop Bridge vastly simplifies our installer and uninstaller.”

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The big downside to these converted applications is, of course, that they’re not universal. They’ll only run on desktop Windows systems with x86 processors. What this means for UWP going forward isn’t clear. On the one hand, it means that developing a UWP for Windows’ primary audience, the desktop, is now unnecessary. UWPs still have a role if a developer really wants to reach Mobile, HoloLens, the Internet of Things, or Xbox, but if those are unimportant, there is now little need to create a full UWP app.

At the time when Microsoft announced Project Centennial, Microsoft executives said that there were 16 million Win32 apps out on the market, so this launch marks a major expansion of what the Universal Windows Platform can do.

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Evernote, Arduino IDE, doubleTwist, PhotoScape, MAGIX Movie Edit Pro, Virtual Robotics Kit, Relab, SQL Pro, Voya Media, Predicted Desire, and korAccount are all available in the Windows Store this week, and many more are expected in the coming months. It’s a change that could mean the Windows Store will be a useful way to truly roam PCs and quickly install your favorite apps. We’ll have to wait on developers to take advantage of the Desktop Bridge tool, but this conversion should make it easier for apps to move over to Microsoft’s universal platform.

Having apps run on all Windows 10 devices was a big deal for Microsoft when it came up with the idea, because it hoped developers would love the chance to write an app once and have it run on PCs, phones, tablets, XBox and even HoloLens devices. That idea was especially important given the rise and rise of mobile devices, which are now the primary computing devices for billions and therefore a platform Microsoft covets.

History tells us that Windows Phone just didn’t happen, making mobilising apps appealing, just not that urgent. Microsoft nevertheless stuck to its guns, hence today’s low-key ribbon-cutting post. Simultaneous with this, the Desktop App Converter has itself been published to the Store as a Store app. On top of that news, Microsoft is also working with the companies behind InstallShield, WiX, and Advanced Installer to help build in UWP conversion with Project Centennial into their usual development workflow for building Win32 apps. In addition to building an MSI installer for older versions of Windows, those tools will also help developers build a UWP app that can be pushed to the Store.

If you fancy putting a Win32 app into the Windows Store, you’ll need Desktop App Converter which is available in the Windows Store. ®

Source : Windows Blog

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