Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP) lets developers create apps that can run across a range of devices including phones, tablets, desktops, and even the Xbox One game console and upcoming HoloLens wearable computer.
The company introduced UWP with the launch of Windows 10 in 2015, and not only do UWP apps run on devices with a range of screen sizes and processor types, but they also support features such as live tiles, Windows 10 notifications, and more.
There’s just one problem: nearly a year after the launch of Windows 10, the selection of UWP apps isn’t all that great. So Microsoft has been trying to make it easy for developers to port existing iOS, web, and Windows apps to the new platform.
Formerly known as “Project Centennial,” the new Desktop App Converter Preview is designed to work on the Windows 10 Anniversary Update Enterprise Edition preview (buildd number 10.0.14316.0 or later) and requires a computer with a 64-bit processor, hardware-assisted virtualization, and second level address translation. In other words, this isn’t for everyone.
But it will let motivated developers turn apps that were designed for earlier versions of Windows into Universal apps that can be distributed through the Windows Store. Other features of UWP apps include:
- Support for UWP APIs including live tiles, background tasks, and app services
- Simpler and cleaner install and uninstall experience for users
- Users who install apps through the Windows Store can receive automatic updates
Note that some features of Win32 and .NET apps may not work in the Universal Windows Platform, which is why Microsoft lets developers create sort of pseudo-UWP apps.
Full universal apps run in containers which are held separate from the operating system, which means that, for example, they cannot request elevated security privileges. When developers use the Desktop App Converter, they can allow some components of the app to run in a “full trust” partition instead of in an app container.
That lets developers distribute their apps through the Windows Store and tap into newer Windows 10 APIs. But it also means that those apps cannot be run on phones, game consoles, or other hardware that does not have an x86 processor.