Last week, Microsoft announced during its Edge Summit that Progressive Web Apps would soon hit the Windows Store, with Microsoft Teams being first in line. All sessions from the event are now available on demand, and the one called “PWA, HWA, Electron, oh my! Making sense of the evolving web app landscape” includes interesting information about what seems to be one of the biggest features of Windows 10 version 1803, the next major revision to Windows 10 after the soon to be released Fall Creators Update, coming next spring .
As spotted by Thurrott.com, Microsoft’s Senior Program Manager Kirupa Chinnathambi reveals in this session that Progressive Web Apps support will be enabled in the next major version of Windows 10 (which likely be named version 1803), but Windows Insiders should get early access to these new type of hybrid apps before everyone else.
If you’re not familiar with Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), they’re expected to become an excellent alternative to full native apps on Windows 10. PWAs are much more than a simple web app wrapped in an .appx container, meaning that they can work across a variety of devices (including phones, Xbox One consoles, Windows Mixed Reality headsets, etc.). Additionally, PWAs run over HTTPS, and they can work offline and send you push notifications.
To be clear, PWAs on the Windows Store will behave and look like native UWP apps, and Windows 10 users should not see any difference. Microsoft Teams is a perfect example of a PWA done well.
Microsoft Teams is now a PWA coming soon to the Windows Store @MicrosoftTeams #msedgesummit pic.twitter.com/DPWFuXETwQ
— Microsoft Edge Dev (@MSEdgeDev) September 13, 2017
Interestingly, Chinnathambi revealed that Microsoft is already piloting a limited set of PWAs, and Windows 10 users can now test PWAs in Edge by enabling “Service Workers” under about:flags in the settings. Later this year, Microsoft will turn on Service Worker functionality by default in Windows 10 preview builds, and full PWA support will roll out to everyone with the next major Windows 10 release.
Microsoft is already courting developers to bring their PWAs to the Windows Store, but the company will also crawl the web to automatically add reputable PWAs to its digital store. Time will tell if this can be a good solution for the lack of quality apps on the Windows Store, but this could definitely help make Windows 10 S a more viable option for many consumers. However, it’s still not clear if PWAs could help Windows 10 Mobile in any way.