Microsoft expounds on bringing Win32 desktop apps into the Windows Store

Build Conference

While the biggest headline surrounding apps in the Windows platform at Build was surrounding iOS and Android, another major announcement was about using code from Win32 applications to make Windows apps.

The example Microsoft gave at the keynote was Adobe Photoshop but at another session of Build they broke down the Windows 10 app model. You can check out the whole session here, but here’s a few highlights. The topics discussed in this article come mostly from slides 16-18.

The company spoke on how when you install a Win32 app now, it’s almost impossible to completely uninstall and that some developers don’t even try to make it possible. By using code from a program to build an app in the Windows Store, it allows clean installs and uninstalls of that application.

In addition to that it also gives developers the ability to update their apps through the Windows Store. Updating programs now can be difficult and involve drivers. Also it may require users to do something on their own end. With Windows applications developers can push out updates that will take place in the middle of the night without needing admin permissions every time there’s an update.

This all is based on developers using AppX which the Build speakers stated they’d like to be “the ultimate installer across Windows.” This means that Microsoft has to sell this a bit, or a lot depending on who they are trying to woo.

Universal Windows Platform

If a developer does make the switch, they also gain access to features such as Cortana. By making Win32 apps into Windows apps it brings them into Windows 10.

Build is primarily a developers conference so a lot of this news affects the average user only at the very end usage point. What this means to users is that if developers use the tools that Microsoft would like them to, bootup times for their PCs won’t be bogged down by programs accessing the registry. It also creates an easier way to find and get the apps you want, assuming that the store in Windows 10 makes searching easier than the current version.

There are plenty of positives to this but some may be apprehensive to switch. Microsoft made no attempt to hide that switching to AppX takes some control out of the hands of developers. They even used the phrase “it protects apps against themselves” but when they said that they were pointing out that this new model does not make apps “run in the sandbox” which some developers may fear.

If Microsoft can get developers to import their apps into the Windows Store, we’ll see a quickly growing list of apps. There are millions of Win32 programs that if added to the Windows Store would buoy its numbers and viability as a one stop shop.

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