Microsoft really wants developers to bring their apps to Windows. Earlier this year the company announced that it would offer tools to let developers of Android, iOS, and web apps into native Windows apps that could be distributed through the Windows Store.

Now Microsoft is launching a preview of its Windows Bridge for iOS… and the company is releasing the software as an open source project. The source code is available at github.

ios bridge

Microsoft says it doesn’t want to simply let developers “port” existing iOS apps to run on Windows. It wants them to become full-fledged Windows apps with support for Windows APIs.

The iOS Bridge lets provides developers of iPhone and iPad apps with tools to bring their apps to Windows and tap into Windows features including notifications, location detection, Xbox achievements, Windows Store payments, and more.

The software includes an Objective-C compiler and runtime, support for many iOS APIs, and integration with Visual Studio 2015.

So far the iOS bridge supports Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 and x86 and x64 architectures. In the future Microsoft will add support for ARM-based chips, which will make it easier for iOS app developers to bring apps and games to Windows 10 smartphones and small tablets.

Microsoft says the final version of the iOS Bridge will be available this fall.

The company already has a technical preview of Windows Bridge for Android, but it’s only available for developers with an invitation at this point. The Windows Bridge for web apps is already live. And the Windows Bridge for Classic Windows apps (which will let developer bring .NET and Win32 apps to the Windows Store) should be available next year.

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6 replies on “Microsoft releases open source tool for bringing iOS apps to Windows”

  1. Only time will tell whether these strategies succeed. But I looked at the public information on the Android Bridge and “dog’s breakfast” seemed a generous description. Add the vanishingly small market share, the extremely late start in the game, and the constant platform churn of both WinRT and the old (now dead) WinPhone platforms… there just isn’t any incentive. I suspect before these “Bridges” are finally killed off a few shops will push to port existing Android and iOS LOB apps but I can’t see any ISV even bothering with them.

  2. I love competition. Microsoft, Apple and Google are innovating like never before. A year ago if you’d told me of the moves that Microsoft has been making with Windows as a service and porting Microsoft programs to iOS and android I wouldn’t have believed you.

  3. Let’s hope developers actually do this. If I can get all my apps I use on android and google play services on windows phone, I might switch.
    Funny thing is that developers don’t want to put apps on windows phone because the market share is to small.
    But people won’t buy windows phones because there is a lack of apps.
    So either the market share needs to go up so more apps will be made or more apps need to be made so the market share will go up.

    1. This is why they are going for the universal angle, because they realized the catch 22 you just explained.

      Windows 10 is a very attractive platform to develop for now, because even if you are just targeting the millions of tablets, you can also get the millions of windows phones with very little work (none in most cases)

      1. It’s not as simple as that. The Windows phone (and tablet) market is very small compared to the IOS platform, and no matter how easy MS makes the port, it still takes time and resources away from what is by far the most profitable platform for app developers at the moment. The port has to be perfect, it can’t have bugs, glitches, performance problems, etc.

        MS needs this to work, but it’s not a magic bullet, and porting tools are not going to bring app developers over to the Windows platform (in fact it could hinder them, since they can continue to develop on IOS first knowing they can port it to Windows later).

        1. Valid points if porting meant only to mobile phones. With MS new strategy you can port then have access to desktop, mobile and tablet. I think the incentive is there even if there are bugs along the way.

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