The Low Down on Windows Universal Apps

Jun 29, 2015

Building a Windows 10 Universal App offers an exciting innovation for developers. Now, we can build one app that renders beautifully on any size Windows 10 device. This means the same app that looks great on your Windows 10 phone will also run on your Windows 10 desktop computer or even your Xbox. According to Microsoft, “With the introduction of the Windows 10 core and the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), one app package can run across all platforms.”

That sounds like a great breakthrough. But there are still some concerns related to the Windows 10 Universal App experience. For one, user interface code and device-specific code cannot always be shared – that’s a given. Depending on the device they have, users will interact with the app in dissimilar ways; after all, there’s a huge difference in how you use your Windows phone vs. your Xbox. That means additional effort will still be required to support multiple targets. Another potential problem is that universal apps only support Windows Runtime targets – in other words, devices that run Windows Store apps. Those developing a PC desktop app face the tough decision of whether to develop a universal app that works on Windows 10 phones in addition to Windows 10 or a desktop app that could be utilized on Windows 10 and Windows 7, currently a much larger market.

Finally, what about other platforms? Developers that wish to develop apps for multiple platforms such as iOS and Android will likely opt to use cross-platform development tools such as Xamarin rather than develop a universal app. The success of universal apps will hinge on the popularity of Windows App Store offerings.

Microsoft has been promising “one Windows” for quite some time, meaning, among other things, that developers will be able to write one version of an app and run it on multiple Windows variants. So far, they have taken a step in the right direction, but the pieces aren’t entirely in place. We are eager to see whether Microsoft remains committed to a consistent development platform moving forward.

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