Microsoft Expands the Availability of Its Desktop App Converter

Posted on September 14, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Dev, Windows 10 with 0

Microsoft Expands the Availability of Its Desktop App Converter

Microsoft’s Desktop App Converter—previously code-named Project Centennial—is now available in the Windows Store. This will enable developers to get the latest features and bug-fixes automatically as soon as the app is updated going forward.

As you may know, the Desktop App Converter helps developers convert classic desktop (Win32/.NET) applications to packaged UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps for Windows 10 and then extend them with unique Windows 10/UWP features. It was one of four so-called Bridge technologies that Microsoft announced at Build 2015, though one of them—the Windows Bridge for Android, or Project Astoria—was canceled ahead of Build 2016 this year. (The other two are the Windows Bridge for iOS, or Project Islandwood, and the Web Bridge.)

The goal of the Desktop App Converter is simple enough, an is a great idea: Allow those with complex or long-lived legacy desktop applications to make the transition to the more modern UWP world without having to rewrite their apps. The question is, which app makers will sign-on. For example, apps like iTunes and Chrome would make for great Centennial apps. But I bet those never come along for the ride.

Earlier this month, Evernote shipped what I believe is the first major Centennial app. At the time I noted that it didn’t offer any unique UWP features, like notifications or live tile support. But that’s changed: Evernote is now supporting both.

“We’re excited to bring our full-featured Evernote app to the Windows Store,” Evernote’s Seth Hitchings says. “The Desktop Bridge vastly simplifies our installer and uninstaller. It also opens up UWP APIs that we’ve taken advantage of, including the live tiles and notifications. And having the full-featured Evernote app in the Windows Store means future improvements will reach users faster.”

And Microsoft today has announced some other new Centennial apps, including the Arduino IDE and Double Twist. I know. Big hitters.

To attract more, um, mainstream developers, Microsoft is also expanding the ways in which you can create apps using the Desktop Bridge: Three partners—Flexera Software (InstallShield), FireGiant (WiX) and Caphyon (Advanced Installer)—are all supporting the Desktop Bridge in their own Windows app installer solutions.