With the release today of WinUI 3 Preview 2, Microsoft has effectively delayed the final release from November 2020 to sometime in early 2021. (Update: It looks like this delay dates back to May, during Build and the WinUI 3 Preview 1 release. –Paul)
WinUI 3, as you may recall, is the primary component of Microsoft’s Project Reunion, a modern replacement for the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and a way to bring APIs and capabilities that were previously stuck in UWP to all Windows developers. The WinUI bits are focused solely on the user interface.
Microsoft announced WinUI 3 in late 2019 alongside its first alpha preview and promised at that time to deliver the final shipping version by the end of 2020. It then provided a Preview 1 release in May 2020 during the Build conference.
Today, we get WinUI 3 Preview 2, which Microsoft describes as a “quality and stability-driven release.” The biggest change, from what I can see, is that it’s now compatible .NET 5 Preview 5 for Desktop apps, but there’s a long list of changes for the curious in the release notes. It also looks just as tedious to set up and use as was Preview 1, so I’ll probably just skip out on this one for now.
The bigger news, to my mind, is the update to the schedule: Microsoft now expects to ship Preview 3 “this fall” (possibly during Ignite, I guess) and is describing that release as “a fun and exciting release [that will] be packed with new features and capabilities.” But a new schedule slide, shown above, provides even more details.
First, Preview 3 will be followed by a new WinUI 3 November release that takes the place of what was originally the final release. This release will be the first prerelease version to support a “Go Live” license meaning that developers can use this version to create production code. And it will be open-sourced by Microsoft.
Second, the final release has been pushed back several months to “Spring 2021.” There’s no further news on that beyond the fact that it clearly needed more time in development. And that’s fine: WinUI 3 is an important release, and it Microsoft is smart to try and get this one right.