Microsoft’s Windows Store often gets knocked for not having as many apps as the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store… but Windows has been around a long time, and Microsoft says there are more than 16 million apps developed for the Win32 and .NET platforms.

So the company is giving developers tools to port those apps to the Universal Windows App platform. Once apps are converted, they can be uploaded to the Window Store. More importantly, the get access to all of Microsoft’s new APIs.

centennial

Converted apps can be run without any major modifications, but developers can also add support for live tiles or other features.

For users, this gives you some of the benefits of universal apps, including support for downloads and updates through Microsoft’s Windows Store servers. It also makes it easy to cleanly uninstall apps without worrying about stuff getting left behind in the Windows registry.

Microsoft announced plans to launch this “Project Centennial” app converter last year, but it will be available to developers soon.

Some have criticized the company’s push for its universal app platform though, suggesting that it will result in a walled garden approach where Microsoft has too much control over the ecosystem and where developers that don’t use Microsoft’s tools are unable to tap into some of the operating system’s latest features.

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