Microsoft is today confirming its plans for Progress Web Apps (PWAs) in Windows 10. The company has been talking a lot about PWAs in Windows 10 recently, and the release of Windows 10 Redstone 4 in March/April will mark the beginning of PWAs in Windows.
PWAs, for those unfamiliar, are modern web apps built on web technologies that offer a native-like experience, while being able to utilize some of the core OS features such as push notifications. Microsoft is adding support for PWAs with the addition of Service Workers in EdgeHTML 17, which is coming out with the release of Windows 10 Redstone 4. With support for PWAs, Microsoft Edge users will be able to run and use PWAs in their desktop browser and get a native experience, including the ability to run offline apps, enable push notifications, etc.
But PWAs in Windows 10 are more than just about the browser. Microsoft is actually bringing PWAs to the Microsoft Store. Just like regular Universal Windows Platform apps, developers will be able to package their PWAs as a UWP app and release it on the Microsoft Store. But Microsoft is also using the Bing crawler to look for quality PWAs on the web, and automatically add them to the Microsoft Store.
With the Bing crawler, Microsoft will be actively looking for PWAs on the web and bring them to the Microsoft Store as long as they meet the quality standards. Microsoft says PWAs will have a higher chance of being added to the Microsoft Store if they make use of Service Workers, use a secure connection, have a rich app manifest, have gone through automatic testing, and meet the usual Microsoft Store standards. Microsoft has already started searching for PWAs on the web, and Windows Insiders will likely be the first ones to start seeing some of the early PWAs on the Microsoft Store over the coming weeks.
The addition of PWAs in the Microsoft Store will mean that Windows 10 users will have access to a wider array of applications on the store. There’s a huge lack of native UWP apps on the Microsoft Store right now, and PWAs could help fill that gap going forward. Microsoft is, however, clear about the fact that PWAs are not here to replace UWP applications. The company says apps that require to be completely native should continue to rely on the Universal Windows Platform, even though PWAs in the Microsoft Store will get access to all the native WinRT APIs.
Believe it or not, PWAs are a big deal, and Microsoft isn’t playing around — the implementation is already here, and getting the execution right will be critical for Redmond.