Microsoft recently introduced a set of tools that will let developers take existing Android, iOS, web, or classic Windows apps and turn them into Universal Windows Apps that can be distributed through the Windows Store.

It’ll be up to developers to decide whether to use those tools, but if they do it the Windows Store might start to look like less of a wasteland.

There are thousands of Android and iOS apps that aren’t yet available for Windows Phone. Microsoft is making it easy for developers to bring those apps to Windows.

As for existing Windows apps, Microsoft says there are already more than 16 million classic “Win32” apps available for desktop or notebook PCs. The new “Project Centennial” tools will let the developers of those apps bring them to the Windows Store… but that doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily be able to run all of those apps on an Xbox, Windows Phone, or Hololens device… at least not right away. Developers may need to take a few extra steps.

project c_01

That’s because while Microsoft has a converter that will analyze an existing app installer and spit out a Universal Windows App which is self-container, it may not be able to do everything the original app did.

Universal apps don’t have “full trust,” which means they can’t run as administrator with elevated privileges, can’t access the kernel, and can’t access some other system-level features. If you have an app that needs to do those things you can still use the converter and submit the app to the Windows Store — but it will only be able to run on the type of device it was originally designed for because it will still include some “full trust” code.

The idea is that developers can use Project Centennial to bring those classic apps to the new Windows App Model, but Win32 apps will still only be able to run on desktop or notebook-style computers with x86 processors until all the code is converted to Universal Windows App code.

This lets developers submit apps to the Store quickly, and then convert code one piece at a time until their apps become universal, at which point they’ll be available for phones and other devices. If they don’t want to go all the way, they can still submit the apps to the store… which will bring a few key benefits to both developers and users.

Developers can offer app updates through the Windows Store, collect money for paid apps, or offer subscriptions. They can also integrate features like support for Live Tiles or notifications.

Universal apps are handy for users because they essentially run in a sandbox: you can install and uninstall a Universal Windows App without writing anything to your registry. That means your system should operate exactly the same way before and after you install or uninstall an app.

That could be huge for folks who are used to just doing a clean install of Windows every year or two in order to clean up all the accumulated gunk that slows down a system over time.

The Windows Store can also handle incremental updates: if there’s an app or game with a 2GB installer, you may only need to download the whole thing once. After that, the Windows Store can send you just the new files you need when there’s an update available.

Don’t expect to be able to run all of your favorite Windows desktop apps on a smartphone running Windows 10. But if developers take advantage of Microsoft’s new tools you might see more and more of those apps become universal apps which are available for phones, PCs, game consoles, and other devices.

via InfoQ, WinBeta, and Channel 9


Support Liliputing

Liliputing's primary sources of revenue are advertising and affiliate links (if you click the "Shop" button at the top of the page and buy something on Amazon, for example, we'll get a small commission).

But there are several ways you can support the site directly even if you're using an ad blocker* and hate online shopping.

Contribute to our Patreon campaign


Contribute via PayPal

* If you are using an ad blocker like uBlock Origin and seeing a pop-up message at the bottom of the screen, we have a guide that may help you disable it.

Subscribe to Liliputing via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9,542 other subscribers

15 replies on “This is how Win32 apps can become Windows Store apps”

  1. yaddayaddayaa… but no mention of the 30% windows store tax…? Microcruft’s real object of desire…
    Of course Microcruft might wave it now and wait until it becomes “the standard way” before they start hitting people with their 30% charge of every piece of software you want to sell for windows.

    1. Apple and Google all charge a 30% cut. Need the links for this proof or are you just another uneducated fool.

  2. My worry is that Windows needs to approve all apps before release on their store. unless they allow side-loading, I don’t like the idea of The big M being the gate keeper.

  3. I’m hoping MS will publish strict guidelines about WIN32 apps in the Store NOT being bundled with Adware, etc. Or some very obvious warnings and alerts for users to know before installing.

    If the Store just ends up being a one-stop web site for everything you can get everywhere else ate up with that stuff, that will be a mess.

  4. What a mess, I just don’t see how MS will fix this Universal mess, if ever.

  5. Remove paid signature for drivers, permit windows apps to request administrator and system permissions and after that developers can work for your OS.
    Signature of drivers are good, but why a developer should pay after his hard work !

    1. At the very least I shouldn’t have to hunt through hidden menus to reboot the stupid thing into a mode where I can install unsigned drivers.

  6. There is always a gap between theory and real app quality. Everybody who understands the difficulties of software development will understand that this is a desperate try to gain lost ground and not a strategy which will produce good working apps. Microsoft needs to realize that nobody cares longer about Windows.

    1. Well I’m glad that’s settled, Mr. Everybody!


      My kingdom for a thumbs down button that works.

      – Nobody

    2. So has hengel spoken, so let it be!…lol DItto Mark. Another naysayer from the Apple/android fanclub has spoken. It has not been done, but they know it will not work! Its a desperate attempt to gain ground, but if they stand still they wont gain ground! I remember the same thing was said about androids store when it went up against Apple’s crap store! Well look at the Play store now!

  7. Wow now geeks will say I want a phone I can plug to a monitor and it will become a full fledged computer, this is the chance I hope developers take advantage of this. All they said was impossible is now very possible

  8. Wow, they really are doing everything they can to attract developers
    Still no snapchat…

    1. This is more than everything if developers are not inspired by this what will inspire them?.

    2. At this point I’m sure Snapchat’s CEO is anti-Microsoft of something like that.

    3. Sanpchat – it is not about billion winodws users and it is about brainwashed hatred from Snapchat CEO or BGR CEOs

Comments are closed.