After fumbling with the Metro branding for Windows 8 apps and then settling on the horrible name Windows Store apps, it appeared that Microsoft had finally settled on a great new name for its new app platform: universal apps. But that’s apparently not the case: these apps will actually be called Windows apps going forward, Microsoft says. And as before, they are expected to supplant desktop applications.
This unexpected branding revelation comes courtesy of Microsoft distinguished engineer Don Box, who explained the naming during his Developing for the Windows 10 Hardware Platform session at WinHEC 2015 last week. Here’s how he explained it.
“In Windows 10, we have this notion of a universal app platform,” Box said. “And the apps that target it are called Windows apps. Sometimes we say universal apps, but we call them Windows apps. A Windows app can run on every device family: phone, PCs, Xbox, IoT, and other devices like HoloLens.”
Windows desktop applications are those (Win32) apps that run only on PCs. And despite the re-emphasis on desktop computing in Windows 10, Box still treats them like the legacy technology that they are.
“On PCs, we continue to support the two decades-plus worth of Windows desktop applications … for running them on PCs,” he said. “So sometimes we will talk about a Windows app [what we have been calling universal apps to date] and Windows desktop apps. Windows apps run on all devices. Windows desktop apps [are] PC only.”
Box provided the following table to break down the differences between Windows apps and Windows desktop applications.
“Windows apps run everywhere,” he emphasized, “and we still continue to support Windows desktop applications on PCs.”
Put simply, the differentiation between legacy Windows desktop applications and the new app platform—Metro/Windows Store apps in Windows 8 and now Windows apps in Windows 10—has in fact not changed a bit. Microsoft expects developers to create new Windows apps, not new Windows desktop applications. And it has improved the Windows universal app platform—which is really just a refinement of Metro, just as One Windows is just an evolution of a long-standing Microsoft strategy—to make it more powerful and capable.