Google announced today that its Flutter open-source app development toolkit now supports creating Windows apps.
“Since we launched Flutter, we’ve focused on delivering a cross-platform solution for beautiful, tailored apps that are compiled to machine code and take full advantage of the underlying graphics hardware of your device,” Google’s Tim Sneath writes in the announcement post. “Today marks a significant expansion of this vision with the first production release of support for Windows as an app target, enabling Windows developers to benefit from the same productivity and power that mobile developers have been enjoying.”
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From a momentum perspective, Google says that developers have released nearly 500,000 apps so far, with heavyweights such as ByteDance, BMW, and Betterment on board. But one of the biggest requests has been for Windows app support. And Google is delivering that today.
“Desktop apps aren’t just mobile apps running on a bigger screen,” Sneath explains. “They’re designed for different input devices, such as a keyboard and mouse. They have resizable windows that often run on a widescreen monitor. There are different conventions for critical things like accessibility, input method editors, and visual styling. And they integrate with different APIs in the underlying operating system: desktop apps support everything from file system pickers to device hardware to data stores like the Windows registry.”
As with its Android and iOS support, Flutter uses a Dart-based framework and a C++ engine to deliver Windows app support. Like environments such as Windows Forms or Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), Flutter sits over the Windows API (Win32), intercepting and dispatching Windows messages and coordinating screen painting. And it works with existing Windows modalities for internationalization, such as input method editors, Google notes.
Flutter apps for Windows can use “every part of the Flutter framework,” Google adds, and they can also access Win32, COM, and the Windows Runtime API directly through Dart’s C interop layer or by using a C++ platform plugin. Several common Flutter plugins have also been updated to support Windows, including camera, file_picker, and shared_preferences. And there are numerous community-based solutions for other packages, from Windows taskbar integration to serial port access.
Also, Microsoft has voiced its support for these efforts.
“We’re delighted to see Flutter adding support for creating Windows apps,” Microsoft corporate vice president Kevin Gallo says. “Windows is an open platform, and we welcome all developers. We’re excited to see Flutter developers bring their experiences to Windows and also publish to the Microsoft Store. Flutter support for Windows is a big step for the community, and we can’t wait to see what you’ll bring to Windows!”
Stable support for Windows app development is part of Flutter 2.10, which is now available. And Google pledges support for other desktop platforms, including Mac and Linux, in the near future.