Microsoft may have abandoned plans to launch a tool that lets developers convert their Android apps into Windows Universal apps. But the company continues to offer tools to iOS and web developers, and later this year Microsoft will release Project Centennial, which allows developers to convert classic Windows apps into Universal apps.
And it looks like Microsoft is practicing what it preaches, because an early version of a Microsoft Office app was spotted in the Windows Store this weekend, and it seems to be built using the Project Centennial tools.
The 960 MB “Centennial Office Test1” app is no longer available for download, and folks who did install it when it was available report that they couldn’t actually run Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. Tiles for those apps were added to the Start Menu, but when you launch them you just see a big white space.
Still, it certainly looks like Microsoft is working to convert one of its most widely-used desktop apps into a Universal app.
That means not only would you be able to download and install Office from the Windows Store, but it’d be easy to uninstall without leaving any unwanted bits left behind in the Windows Registry or other places.
On the other hand, Universal apps have some restrictions that could affect the performance of some software. They can’t access the Windows kernel or some other system features and they cannot run as administrator with escalated privileges. So while they’re less likely to muck up your system than Win32 apps, they may also not be able to do all things you could do with traditional desktop programs.
Still, if Microsoft can build a version of Office that works well as a Universal app, it could go a long way toward showing third-party app developers that the Universal platform works.