Microsoft Tries to Lure Desktop Developers to the UWP Dark Side, Again

Posted on February 2, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Dev, Mobile, Windows 10 with 113 Comments

Microsoft Tries to Lure Desktop Developers to the UWP Dark Side, Again

With the understanding that few professional developers will ever re-create their apps for the UWP platform, Microsoft is trying a different tack. Again.

That tact, of course, is Project Centennial, or the Desktop Bridge as it’s now called. The idea here is a good one: Provide developers with existing desktop applications with a half-step into the UWP world by letting them add more modern features to those apps without starting over from scratch.

“In addition to Windows Store distribution and modern deployment technology, the Desktop Bridge enables you to use exciting Universal Windows Platform (UWP) features and capabilities that were previously unavailable to existing PC software,” the Windows Apps Team notes in a new post to the Windows Developer Blog.

The post cited above provides a few specific examples of what developers can do to modernize (or perhaps “UWPize”) their apps by utilizing the Desktop Bridge. For those who go back a ways, it may be helpful to know that Desktop Bridge is based on the App-V app packaging technology that Microsoft first provided to enterprises a decade ago. It is a way to sandbox applications and shield them from the rest of the system. And vice versa.

Among the capabilities described are:

Windows Store distribution. Desktop Bridge apps can be distributed through the Windows Store, unlike native desktop applications.

Modern user interfaces. Using Desktop Bridge, it’s possible to add new UWP user interfaces to legacy applications. These interfaces will look more modern and help applications blend in better on Windows 10.

UWP services. Applications packaged with Desktop Bridge can access UWP app services that would otherwise by limited to true UWP apps.

UWP background tasks. True UWP apps are modern mobile apps that are managed by the system automatically. But Desktop Bridge apps can access a key part of that functionality by enabling UWP background tasks like push notifications. That way, even if your legacy application isn’t running, it can still take advantage of this key feature.

Share support. Desktop Bridge apps can become a Share target, meaning that they can appear in the Share list that appears when you attempt to share content from other UWP apps. For example, a desktop photo editing application could become a target whenever the user wants to share a photo.

As Microsoft notes, the Desktop Bridge is applicable to all PC software. Meaning, any developer can easily package their app and then start adding UWP features.

As I noted earlier today in UWP is Key to the Long-Term Success of Windows 10, however, the benefits of UWP are largely unknown to both users and developers. And in this case specifically—the Desktop Bridge, that is—there are only a few high-profile examples of developers taking on this half-step approach.

One, of course, is Evernote. Late last year, Evernote dropped its full-on UWP app, which was a toy, and instead packaged its full-featured desktop application with Desktop Bridge and made it available via the Store. My understanding is that it is adding UWP features as well.

The other big example is Adobe Photoshop Elements, which I use and recommend. Adobe isn’t supporting any additional UWP features to my knowledge, but because of its Store distribution, it supports up to 10 PC installs. When you buy this product directly from Adobe, you get just two, and you must remember to activate and deactivate it as you move from PC-to-PC. Desktop Bridge for the win.

The issue, of course, is that Microsoft has been pushing Desktop Bridge for quite some time. This technology was announced at Build 2015 and was made publicly available with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update in August 2016. And like UWP itself, it’s seen little uptick. Which I think explains the regular drumbeat of reminders from Microsoft, like this week’s post.

Which makes me wonder about the viability of an end user tool to package third party applications in a Desktop Bridge distributable. Such a tool couldn’t add more UWP features to legacy applications, but it would make them more manageable—with one-click install and uninstall—and safer to use. I would be all over such a thing.

 

Join the discussion!

BECOME A THURROTT MEMBER:

Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Register
Comments (116)

116 responses to “Microsoft Tries to Lure Desktop Developers to the UWP Dark Side, Again”

  1. Avatar

    1377

    So where's the Project Centennial version of MSFT Office to show just how wonderful that packaging, distribution and other UWP goodness really is?

    Perhaps it's time to ignore what MSFT says and watch what MSFT does and doesn't do?

  2. Avatar

    10565

    Hi All,

    Long time lurker here, just created an account to give some balance to this conversation as I feel I have something I can contribute here. Some background, I'm a professional dev with over 30 years experience and specialize in XAML/C# Rich Client technology of which UWP is one example (others being WPF, Silverlight, Windows Phone). Ive also developed lots of win32 applications in MFC/C++ plus .net applications in Winforms etc. plus lots of unix stuff but that's in the past thank god.

    1) First off having developed several UWP apps and lots of the other types of apps described above, UWP is definitely NOT more difficult to develop on than the other XAML platforms. The tooling is exceptional, especially Edit and Continue for XAML in the new Visual Studio 2017. The XAML framework is very similar to others of its family (and of course the C#/.net Core part is also very similar)

    2) I would say the advantage of UWP over win32 is ease of installation (no crud slowing down pc with registry changes, files all over the place etc), ease of updates, ease of removal, BATTERY LIFE (this is a big one on mobile devices including laptops etc), adaptable interfaces and touch friendliness.

    3) UWP APIs are more limited than win32, for good reasons, mainly security, similar to how web applications are limited. This is mainly in the area of low level system access and doesnt effect consumer level apps that dont AND SHOULDNT have that access. However each release the APIs are getting more functionality, and of course can do things that win32 apps cant on the platform as well (as noted in Pauls article)

    4) MS does not need to port Office to UWP, it already has UWP Mobile Office apps that are good enough for most jobs and are actually pretty decent UWP examples.

    5) There is a strong argument that apps vs webapps on mobile devices is over, apps have won, as some have noted below, they can never beat native performance. Most people use apps on mobile rather than the browser for this reason (and ease of use). HTML was king until the IPhone arrived, things have been very different since.

    6) Don't forget that UWP also has full access to the DirectX stack, which is why we see a lot of these AAA games running on PC and Xbox, its not just "mobile" like games. UWP is a very powerful native platform that is effectively replacing win32. 

    7) There appears to be a number of people on here with an axe to grind against UWP (mentioning no names but they CONTINUOUSLY appear on every forum saying UWP is crap, is dead etc. I do wonder if they are win32 devs worried about their future... ) I'm afraid UWP is the future, all MS investment is in that area

    8) I would say just step back and look where we may be in a couple of years time, Windows 10 will have a billion users, Windows 10 on ARM may have taken off and as well as the 2-in-1 market we may have a large tablet market as well, "Surface Phone" running Windows 10 with a composable Windows "Mobile" shell may well have started a whole new device category, Xbox Scorpio will be here and the majority of mixed reality headsets will be running windows 10. ALL THESE DEVICES WILL BE RUNNING UWP APPS AND GAMES!

    Just a little post in the spirit of balance. Hope you all have a great day! Also as I'm here, thanks to Paul and Brad for such a great website, Ive been lurking for years! :) 

    • Avatar

      8578

      In reply to thurrotcommentator:

      How difficult it is to install a Win32 application and to uninstall it is entirely up to the developer. Installation can be as simple as downloading a single EXE file and uninstall can be as simple as deleting that EXE. More complicated install scenarios may be necessary to support functionality that is impossible to perform using UWP. In other cases, steps are involved in installation to set options that would have to be set later in a UWP possible requiring multiple pages visits.

      We can all speculate on what will happen in the years to come, but the current evidence doesn't support the idea that UWP is going to succeed. For example, I searched Dice.com for "Universal Windows Platform" jobs and got 5 hits nationwide. If I do the same search for C# I get 6,590 positions.

      • Avatar

        5842

        In reply to skane2600:

        UWP beats win32 installations and updates hands down. I have yet to see win32 installation that is as good as any UWP app. There is simply no comparison. With UWP windows just everything for you which means that it is consistent. In UWP setups there are no five pages to agree to some license and specify paths or select a bunch of options you are seeing for the first time. Updates also do not need some process running in the system tray with annoying and inconsistent update notifications. UWP apps also never EVER need to reboot PC just to uninstall some locked DLL.

        Just try installing and uninstalling UWP app and compare that to any win32 installation. Win32 installations are sad amateurish pieces of programming.

         

        • Avatar

          8578

          In reply to illuminated:

          As I've stated elsewhere, you can create your Win32 application as single EXE file than can be downloaded and run immediately and don't require any reboots. How is UWP any simpler than that? The vast majority of Win32 apps don't create a process in the system tray to remind you of updates. More common is a menu item in the application that you can invoke to check for updates. For some people this is superior to UWP automatic updates since it allows the user to decide if they want to update or not.

      • Avatar

        1872

        In reply to skane2600:

        C# has nothing to do with Win32. But it has everything to do with .NET and UWP.

        Maybe we should put this lengthy conversation this way: Start naming meaningful Win32 applications made in the past 3 years. I cant name even one.

        I agree UWP is not as good as it should be and it has not attracted developers even nearly enough. However, there is at least something happening in UWP world compared to Win32 world where absolutely nothing is happening excluding games. The reality is that if MS cant get UWP to work out, Windows will continue its journey down and in I few years we don't even need to argue about these things.

        • Avatar

          8578

          In reply to Asgard:

          "C# has nothing to do with Win32. But it has everything to do with .NET and UWP."

          The original .NET framework was released in 2002 and it was a layer over Win32 with C# as it's primary language. So if C# has nothing to do with Win32, it has even less to do with UWP since UWP didn't exist for most of its history.

          I don't know which comment of mine you're responding to, so I'm not sure what argument you are trying to make about C#.

          As far as "meaningful" applications are concerned, what meaningful applications have been made for UWP, iOS, or Android that isn't either mobile-oriented or an scaled down equivalent of a Windows or OSX application?

          IMO, the low-hanging fruit of application ideas have all been picked years ago. Going forward it's going to be a lot harder to come up with a "killer" app no matter what platform or OS a developer prefers.

        • Avatar

          1377

          In reply to Asgard:

          Name a major UWP business application.

      • Avatar

        10565

        In reply to skane2600:
        It may not be difficult but a lot of devs don't do it as is evidenced by the crap that's left behind when you try and uninstall things and how your pc slows down on boot over time since the registry has to be loaded every time.
        Doing a search for jobs isn't a great metric I would suggest, most UWP apps are consumer apps made by one man bands and not business focussed. Also don't forget UWP has only been around for about a year and a half, its early days yet. Id suggest waiting a few years for it and the windows 10 ecosystem to mature before you past judgement.... :)

         

        • Avatar

          8578

          In reply to thurrotcommentator:

          The registry slowing boot time and crap left over by bad implementations are too obscure for the average user to appreciate. They don't even know what the registry is and would have no idea how to find left over files. The fact is that any full Windows is going to have a registry and competent developers know how to handle it properly.

          Most of those "one man bands" making consumer apps are doing it as a hobby and aren't making a living doing it. Those apps alone aren't going to drive broad acceptance of the platform or motivate professionals to develop for it.

          Although UWP has only been around for year and a half, the foundation was established with WinRT 5 years ago. XAML has been around 2008. So the idea that it's just taking devs awhile to get "up to speed" isn't credible. Here's what MS says about the transition from Windows 8 runtime to UWP:

          "While porting, you'll find that Windows 10 shares the majority of APIs with the previous platforms, as well as XAML markup, UI framework, and tooling, and you'll find it all reassuringly familiar."

          • Avatar

            10565

            In reply to skane2600:
            Users really do notice the slowing start up and general slowing down of their PCs due to win32 applications, its a really common complaint even if they don't understand whats causing it.
            WinRT is not UWP, UWP is built on WinRT but runs on platforms other than just the PC, that's the whole point, UWP as a platform has only been around a year and a half. XAML is independent of UWP, I have had many gigs as a WPF and Silverlight XAML developer, XAML is strongly supported by MS, it is the preferred markup language over HTML for UWP ( this was not the case with WinRT), and is also used in Xamarin.
            I just don't understand what you are arguing about, its clear that UWP is the future, all development by MS is on this for all their device types. I would repeat myself again, this is early days, when MS has relaunched their mobile efforts with Surface Phone and Windows on ARM has beat iOS into second place on tablets (its 16% vs 20% at the moment, so not long - source https://mspoweruser.com/windows-tablets-takes-share-from-ios-and-android-reaches-16-market-share/), all the low price VR goggles have been out for a while and have taken the majority of the virtual reality market and Xbox One and Scorpio are running UWP games and apps it will be obvious to you that you are being premature.
            I may still be writing win32 apps for some business applications no doubt, but even business will come around when the platform is all pervasive and the APIs have caught up...
            • Avatar

              8578

              In reply to thurrotcommentator:


              The point is that since they don't know why their PC is slowing down, the fact that it may isn't relevant to their acceptance of UWP.

              I never said UWP = WinRT. My point was that someone who is familiar with developing "Metro" style apps and has used XAML doesn't have much of a learning curve to create UWP apps. There's no driving force to make the ecosystem more "mature".

              This is no "Windows on ARM" product available at this time. The Surface Phone hasn't even been officially confirmed and may never exist. When you say 16% vs 20% what products are you talking about?

              The issue isn't what devices can run UWP apps, but whether people will buy them or developers will develop for them. Obviously buying an XBOX isn't necessarily and indication of interest in UWP apps.

    • Avatar

      1377

      In reply to thurrotcommentator:

      4) MS does not need to port Office to UWP, it already has UWP Mobile Office apps that are good enough for most jobs and are actually pretty decent UWP examples.

      Thanks for the condescending intro in the 1st paragraph.

      If you've been a software developer for the last 30 years, it's safe to assume you've never done much with Office for work, so you just hoisted yourself on your own petard. You don't know what you're talking about, at least not with respect to Excel and Access and maybe a bit for Outlook.

      Have you ever used DCOM add-ins in Excel? Registered DLL functions to allow their use in VBA modules? Automated Excel using scripting languages? Used Excel for discounted cashflow analysis for deals with cashflows in the US$ tens of millions? If not, you may want to consider that you may not know much about the top 10-25% of use cases for Excel.

      • Avatar

        10565

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Nothing condescending about first paragraph, merely an introduction as I haven't posted before.

        I have done a lot of COM work yes with In-Proc COM objects, including Office stuff, Ive also done DCOM (and CORBA in fact).

        This is all irrelevant , as I said for *most* jobs UWP Mobile office is good enough, less than 1% of the population do what you describe. What I'm saying is that there is little value in porting huge office win32 to UWP compared to the cost. MS have demonstrated that they can produce good quality UWP apps with their UWP Office mobile apps, which is what commentors here said they have not done. I would say the kind of features you describe are best served by win32/COM applications anyway, but in either case they have already been written, maybe use Project Centenial to bring them into the modern application world, but I maintain a port would fail cost/benefit.  

        • Avatar

          1377

          In reply to thurrotcommentator:

          . . . to give some balance to this conversation . . .

          Implying the comments were entirely one-sided before you graced us with your perspective. Whatever.

          I don't disagree that 90% of while collar workers never create Office documents themselves which use more than the features found in Works packages. OTOH, in many financial services businesses, most exempt employees (that is, salaried rather than wage-per-hour/possibly overtime) use Excel models with VBA and often [D]COM add-ins. My own estimate: at least 40% of white collar employees in financial services. Excel Mobile would be a nonstarter. I figure most academics and business scientists and engineers who use Excel use it with math/stats add-ins and/or lots of VBA.

          I don't believe you have a realistic perspective on business use spreadsheet complexity.

          That said, Wordpad usually meets my needs, so Word Mobile could be more than adequate for most employees. Same for PowerPoint Mobile. Outlook is problematic depending on whether IT departments have done much work with searching multiple people's calendars to optimize meeting scheduling. But Excel and Access often involve more programming/automation than it seems you've seen.

          Simply put, you have your opinion on the adequacy of Office Mobile, and that's fine, but your opinion isn't shared. Nor is yours an expert opinion on the subject of Office adequacy.

          Tangent: could Project Centennial Excel be automated using VBScript? Or would VBScript need to be included in Excel's Project Centennial package? Would there then need to be different packages for nothing but VBA, Windows Script Host (VBScript and JScript), Python, Perl, etc?

          • Avatar

            8578

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            I once created a context menu item that when selected from a directory would invoke a script which would alter the content of all the Word files in that directory according to a particular set of requirements and then change the end of each filename to reflect the current date. All without enabling or creating any macros within the Word documents themselves. The details aren't important but it reduced the client's preparation time from about 6 hours to 10 minutes. It's hard to imagine how this could be done efficiently using a UWP version of Word.

            • Avatar

              10565

              In reply to skane2600: I'm sure you guys have amazing Office COM skills, and they are important in some circumstances, that's not the point. The point is that people on this thread were saying that MS make no good UWP apps and they should convert win32 Office and that is where I disagree. The cost/benefit is not there for full win32 Office as Ive already stated. In terms of MS not making UWP apps as well as Mobile Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Onenote, I would point to Edge, Mail, Calendar, People, Skype, Xbox, Groove, Maps, Films & TV, Photos, Onedrive, Calculator, Messaging, Weather, Money, Wunderlist - pretty much most areas you would expect out of the box are covered.
              This plus the over 700,000 yes SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND other 3rd party apps.  Source http://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-by-the-numbers-2015-700k-windows-store-apps-1-2bn-office-users/

               

              • Avatar

                8578

                In reply to thurrotcommentator:

                I agree that there's no point in full Office being converted to UWP because it would simply be redundant at best. The applications that you mentioned are also redundant at best (and in some cases inferior to their Win32 counterparts). Currently there are no UWP-only devices other than Windows Phone 10. So far the market has chosen against any Windows version that can't run Win32 apps. You believe that will change but so far there's no evidence to support that belief.

                • Avatar

                  10565

                  In reply to skane2600: They are not redundant, they have much improved battery life compared to their win32 equivalents, this is one of the key points I think you may keep missing! This is especially important with Edge and the media apps... :)

                   

                • Avatar

                  8578

                  In reply to thurrotcommentator:

                  Have each of those apps been measured against their Win32 counterparts with respect to power requirements by a neutral third party? I suspect even MS hasn't done the comparison for each app. To the extent that customers care about battery life (obviously not relevant to desktops) they pay attention to how many hours of use a particular device gets on a single battery charge. They don't choose their software based on how much power it uses. 

                • Avatar

                  10565

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  I know one of my own UWP app ports was 500% better battery life than the Silverlight Windows Phone version which I assume was better than a win32 version. Heres some more info for you... :) https://www.reddit.com/r/Windows10/comments/4iol5z/do_uwp_apps_use_less_battery/m

                • Avatar

                  8578

                  In reply to thurrotcommentator:

                  Your link is dead. You'd have to describe your methodology. The fact that you just assume that comparing your UWP app to your Silverlight app says something about Win32 doesn't inspire confidence. To prove a significant advantage for UWP, you'd have to compare performance across many applications. Otherwise is just anecdotal evidence.

                • Avatar

                  10565

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  Oops apologies, an extra character snuck in there, heres the link https://www.reddit.com/r/Windows10/comments/4iol5z/do_uwp_apps_use_less_battery/

                  I would assume the Silverlight one would be better battery mainly because of app vs desktop application lifecycle, see link for more info...

                • Avatar

                  8578

                  In reply to thurrotcommentator:

                  The Lifecycle is only mentioned once and it's very light on details. I note that if I'm running NotePad, and switch to another application and then invoke the task manager, it indicates that NotePad is using 0% of the CPU. The point is that how many resources an application uses has at least as much to do with what it's designed to do and how it's implemented as it does on the lifecycle model.

                • Avatar

                  10565

                  In reply to skane2600: sure, that's why vlc is talked about so much in that link as a good meaty example to compare win32 and UWP versions, 50% better I think is mentioned that wouldn't surprise me based on my Silverlight vs UWP measurements.
                  Don't forget with lifecycle stuff the saving is multiplied by the number of apps running, eg 10 UWP apps , running,  9 will be suspended compared with 10 win32 apps running when they may all be running depending on if they are blocking on the preemptive scheduler.

                   

                   

                • Avatar

                  8578

                  In reply to thurrotcommentator:

                  I wouldn't consider VLC to be representative of Win32 apps in general. Very few play videos. But as I mentioned before, proving that UWP extends battery life in general would require comparing a broad range of applications using different frameworks or no framework at all. Of course, many Win32 applications don't have a UWP counterpart so the comparison probably can't even be made. 

                • Avatar

                  10565

                  In reply to skane2600: Wow, haha ok. Heres a thought experiment, what if you had 10 win32 apps and they all suspend instead of running in the background when they are not in focus, surely you can see that is better than them running in the background. Even if UWP is not more efficient than win32 (which the article above claims otherwise because it has more efficient new APIs not ones developed 20 years ago), there is no arguing against the improved lifecycle from battery life point of view. 

                   

                • Avatar

                  8578

                  In reply to thurrotcommentator:

                  Many, many Win32 apps do exactly what you describe. There's nothing that prevents them from doing so. If they have a process in the background, they have a specific reason for it. In some cases they perform a function that is impossible in UWP. It's always been possible to trade performance for fewer use of resources. IMO opinion it's better to leave that trade-off to the application developer than to the "dead-hand" of the OS.

                  Anyway, we are not convincing each other and have spent a lot of time on this, so I'll stop. 

                • Avatar

                  10565

                  In reply to skane2600: Are you sure you understand how preemptive scheduling works on Windows NT? When applications are not in the foreground  (ie do not have focus) the main thread carries on running unless it is blocking on a kernel call, that is their default, whether they run additional background tasks is something completely different. eg you could start a win32 photoshop rendering operation then switch to another application and it would continue rendering, this is fundamentally different to the UWP app model where all the threads will be stopped to save battery for mobile use. Perhaps that is the root of our misunderstanding? Anyways, nice debating with you. Till next time :)

                   

                • Avatar

                  1377

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  Picky: 0% with no decimal places doesn't necessarily mean zero. It means less than 0.5%.

                • Avatar

                  8578

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  Actually task manager reports to the nearest .1%. But despite the precision task manager uses, it applies to UWP apps as well.

              • Avatar

                1377

                In reply to thurrotcommentator:

                . . . The cost/benefit is not there for full win32 Office. . .

                That's where I agree with you completely, but I don't limit cost-benefit analysis to MSFT. I include all B2B ISVs and most individual developers making line of business software. The costs of refactoring Win32 code to UWP just isn't worth it.

                As for the 700K apps, how many are fart apps? How many are different language versions of the same thing? How many are web apps done poorly?

                If UWP is the future, it'll attend to its own success, and all the arguments here are pointless.

  3. Avatar

    8444

    Nope not going to happen.

    Today EE and BBC iPlayer left the platform and refer to using the website on desktop and phone.

    UWP is bleeding so hard the past weeks. Major app after major app is leaving and points to the website. Because without mobile there is no reason for UWP to exist anyway. We have great desktop and webapps already on the desktop.

    Better luck next time MS

  4. Avatar

    1377

    Re Modern User Interfaces, subjective. For me, gimme Office 2010's UI rather than Office 2013's or 2016's. For me, the new UWP look is UGLY, so the less I have to see of it the better. 3rd party themes may be the answer, just as 3rd party Start menu replacements have become the answer.

    I'll grant that I may be a curmudgeonly luddite with no sense of taste. However, I doubt I'm all alone in this opinion.

  5. Avatar

    8578

    The problem here is that UWP has nothing Win32 developers need. "Modern" here just means "different" not "better". And industry-wide, recent UI approaches have devalued usability in favor of the trendiest aesthetics. If you take a Win32 productivity program and convert it to UWP so that it functions identically to the original, it won't be useful on any non-PC platform anyway because of ergonomic differences. If you convert it and change the UI to accommodate non-PC platforms, it will be less efficient to use and legacy customers won't like it. These "one-size-fits-all" approaches have been tried for 40 years and they've always failed.

    • Avatar

      5615

      In reply to skane2600:

      " just means "different" not "better"

      Slight tangent, I know, but this is a pet peeve of mine, in general. Too many times, "update" just means different, not better (sometimes, when they remove features, it's actually worse). Someone else described it well. It's as if every few weeks you came home and someone had moved your doors, doorknobs, windows, furniture, etc.

      Too often it looks like change for change's sake. This is one of the primary reasons I almost never let my devices update automatically. This isn't exclusive to Microsoft, of course.

    • Avatar

      1377

      In reply to skane2600:

      . . . "Modern" here just means "different" not "better". . . .

      Better is subjective. Those who find Modern better may just not be able to understand how anyone else wouldn't. If so, rational discussion would seem unlikely.

      As for one size fits all, it does work for tube socks. May even work for commandline shells now that Windows has joined macOS, Linux, BSD, etc with a bash environment.

  6. Avatar

    10519

    Haha. UWP is such a disaster. it's been nearly 2 years and apart from MS fans nobody uses those apps. On desktop people use desktop programs (Office, iTunes, Chrome, Spotify, PhotoShop) or webapps.

    Webapps are way more advanced actually. Even the ones from Microsoft. Take a look at Outlook.com. It has way more features like including OneDrive links directly, sending money with PayPal, save mails directly to OneNote and so much more. Same goes for other Microsoft webapps. I can open 3 word documents in wordOnline in a different tab while the UWP versions only support one instance at the time.

    Games. Same story. Only MS published AAA games like Gears, Quantum, Ori, Tomb Raider are UWP. And those who aren't exclusive MS developers release on Steam cause their expensive games would be a major flop since gamers refuse to use or buy UWP games. And Play Anywhere is only interesting for people who have an Xbox. And people with an Xbox usually use it as main gaming platform anyway.

    It's been nearly 2 years. Their is no traction at all for this new framework-du-jour. And this trend will continue. On desktop the browser rules. And even there things go wrong for Microsoft because Edge isn't multi platform and again misses features like a decent bookmarkmanager or full screen F12 support.

    I am a developer myself and I will never ever create UWP apps. All our efforts at our company focus on webapps, with browser extensions for the more advanced users. Browsers run on every platform (not only windows), are responsive, have push notification and web standards evolve faster and are made by more than one private company. It is also what users want to use, ask for and keep on using. So we are not going to double our development effort because some vocal minority want UWP apps while 99% of the market would ignore it anyway.

    Sorry but a platform that hasn't become a hit after nearly 2 years will never become a hit after 4 years.

    • Avatar

      7112

      In reply to lalala:

      UWP is WinRT10 ... and the WinRT framework has been out for over 4 years already (starting with WinRT80). WinRT had enough bugs and performance problems to be a disaster but what really killed it is the lack of Win7 compatibility. Unbelievably stupid.

      • Avatar

        9562

        In reply to doofus2:

        Actually its been 6 years since MS first started begging developers to create Metro/WinRT apps for beta Windows 8.  I'm sure MS marketing will just try to rebrand UWP/WinRT10 into yet another dumb buzzword to try to trick people into thinking its something new.  

        Developers are a little too smart for that though.

    • Avatar

      5530

      In reply to lalala:

      Web apps are more powerful on the PC but performance wise they are slow and can't hold a candle to native apps - win32 or UWP. Initially HTML 5 apps were all the rage on mobile and now it's all native there too because of speed. Web apps on the PC works because we have powerful browsers on powerful hardware, so the speed issues are mitigated somewhat, and web apps work on OSX too, which saves developers time and money.

      UWP can work if Windows 10 one day is more widespread. Right now most devs still would want to target Windows 7, which means no UWP.

      "This UWP, Windows Store is MS" Karma777police is an idiot. The Play Store is only Android but devs aren't ignoring that. Why? It's a marketshare thing.

    • Avatar

      7099

      In reply to lalala:

      Exactly this. We have just dumped our main piece of software after 20 years because it is STILL a Windows only .NET program. We switched to a competitor who's software is fully web browser based, with iOS and Android apps that do some of the functionality for on the move.  Our Mac users can run it without using RDP, hell we can even run it on Linux now. This is what we want from our programs, fully web browser based with apps for iOS and Android that offer some of the functionality, not UWP.

  7. Avatar

    8578

    Here's some additional things that MS could have done better to promote "metro":
    Pledge to charge nothing to put apps in their store for the first 2 years
    Take only 0-10% of the purchase price
    Pay whatever it took to get more cell companies to support their phones at launch
    Not require the Pro version of Windows to emulate phones.

    • Avatar

      9562

      In reply to skane2600:

      That would've been way too forward thinking.  No, they decided to go straight for the 30% cut that the well established and entrenched app stores, namely for Android and iOS command.  

      MS forgot the golden rule though: Beggars can't be choosers.

    • Avatar

      1377

      In reply to skane2600:

      MSFT flounced into the smartphone market with Windows Phone 7 absolutely convinced it'd have 10% of the smartphone market in 2 years, and be a commanding 2nd place by 2015. Just look at Gartner's projections back in 2012 or 2013 which presented that rosy scenario. If you can still find that piece of Gartner fantasy.

      I have no doubt in 2011 MSFT believed its phones were about to take off and make MSFT a major player in mobile. Then reality intruded, and by the end of 2013 it had become clear even to MSFT's senior managers (trailing the board of directors by a few quarters) that Windows phones were a very, very unexpected and very, very, very unpleasant surprise. No doubt one of the reasons Ballmer retired years before he had intended to.

      Before it became clear that Windows phones were a flop, MSFT would never have considered paying others to help it succeed. MSFT had never done such an unspeakable thing in the past. After it became obvious to all that Windows phones were MSFT's biggest flop since Longhorn, there was no positive ROI scenario for what it would have cost MSFT to try to resurrect Windows phones.

      • Avatar

        8578

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        I should have mentioned WP7 explicitly. WP7's introduction was the point at which my suggestions could have been useful (although it might not have been enough anyway). But I agree that MS's ego wouldn't have been likely to allow taking such steps.

        • Avatar

          1377

          In reply to skane2600:

          I'd put it differently. At the end of 2010, no one in MSFT management could have conceived of Windows phones failing. It took Windows phones actually failing to drive home the point that MSFT's position in the PC software market MEANS NOTHING in any other computing market. That was a lesson MSFT could only have learned from brutal experience.

  8. Avatar

    5486

    Horse. Flog. Dead. Re-arrange as necessary, and you'll get the answer. MS needed mobile for UWP to stand any chance. They don't have that, so UWP pointless.

    • Avatar

      1377

      In reply to ghostrider:

      I agree that giving up on mobile reduces the need for UWP, but UWP may be the better development platform for Xbox, HoloLens and IoT because touch is built into UWP. However, Xbox, HoloLens and IoT together are unlikely ever to reach 10% of PC revenues for Windows, so PC will reign unmolested for at least another decade, and Windows PCs don't need UWP.

  9. Avatar

    591

    I wonder what happens to these apps when Windows Cloud/Win on Arm arrives?  Does the legacy desktop portion of the bridged app hit a compatibility wall?  Or is the rumoured Win32/64 emulator deployed to handle that?  Will the emulator be available to all legacy applications?  Or just to applications 'bridged' to the store?  This will be interesting to watch.

    • Avatar

      3117

      In reply to dhallman:

      Ok, I'm a complete layman when it comes to this stuff but I think the point of Windows 10 Cloud is to provide another SKU in the Windows lineup - one that is cheap and streamlined to use. Part of that streamlining is to allow only UWP apps to be installed.  My understanding (mainly coming from Paul's articles) is that W10 Cloud isn't limiting app installation to only UWP because the hardware won't support it a la Windows 8 RT but rather MS is limiting it to apps from the store (x86 or UWP) in order to ensure that they are installed in a safe, approved, easily manageable manner.

    • Avatar

      1065

      In reply to dhallman:

      Yes, I too wonder if Windows Cloud version will support it?  That would be very nice. ARM version I would hope given that it will already be emulating x86 desktop apps.  Very interested to find out.

    • Avatar

      5664

      In reply to dhallman:

      I think it's going to work like Rosetta on OS X and the 680x0 layer in System 7/Mac OS 8 & 9 from twenty years ago where it all becomes transparent to the user. Not an "emulator" in that it works like Virtual PC did, but real time binary translation.

      Convenient because the design of NT runs every task in a VM, so it can simply create a virtual x86 CPU and the app never knows. 

      Remembering Virtual PC makes me wonder if the ARM to IA32 layer will be based on VPC tech.

  10. Avatar

    9562

    "the benefits of UWP are largely unknown to both users and developers."

    That's because they largely don't exist, or they would be more immediately apparent.  Even Microsoft can't figure out a way to create compelling, showcase apps with this weak framework.  If MS doesn't bother, why should third parties?

  11. Avatar

    7355

    As a develop the final nail in the coffin for UWP was when MS killed off their mobile strategy and let their mobile market share shrink to a spec on a map. It ceased to even have a purpose after that.

     

  12. Avatar

    8444

    I am impressed. Actually nearly everbody in this comment section is on the same line about UWP. Something that doesn't happen a lot. Says enough about the future...

    • Avatar

      5530

      In reply to Atoqir:

      Not really. If you look at their post history they've been constant haters of Windows 10. They're a vocal minority accusing Windows 10 users of being the vocal minority. The actual situation is not as desperate. UWP, Win32, and webapps will continue to exist side-by-side on Windows 10.

      • Avatar

        8444

        In reply to FalseAgent:

        I don't hate Windows 10 at all. I am just not interested in UWP. The only version of Windows I really hated was 8/8.1

        I work for a governmental organization and it is my job actually to develop and promote Microsoft products to schools and universities. 

        I am also a .NET developer for 15 years. I even use most MS products every day: Visual Studio, SQL, Azure, SharePoint, .NET, Office, OneDrive, CRM, Windows Server, Skype FB, ...

        I like most of the things Microsoft does. But I and my collegues will never adopt or promote UWP because of the many reasons other people have already stated.

    • Avatar

      2175

      In reply to Atoqir:

      sounds more like everyone repeating the same thing, in a whiny tone. hurts to read it all, actually lol

       

    • Avatar

      9562

      In reply to Atoqir:

      The regular MSFT employees aren't posting today. Maybe they finally had an all-hands-on-deck meeting at HQ in Redmond to figure out how to deal with this 10/UWP abortion.

  13. Avatar

    5631

    UWP is way too hard to develop against, especially when compared against Win32 desktop apps.

    I'm currently working on an inventory system for a jewelry store, and I intended to make it a UWP app, until I discovered it was going to take more than twice as long to do the user interface.  UWP is SO much more complicated, with no practical benefit for most applications.

    MS will have to make them easier to write if they ever want the platform to get any traction.

  14. Avatar

    399

    Maybe more developers would be interested in the Store if MS didn't take a 30% cut ("in most cases" - I have to wonder if Evernote and Photoshop Elements take that kind of hit)

  15. Avatar

    8427

    UWP, the red headed stepchild of Windows Phone and Windows NT

  16. Avatar

    10556

    Perhaps if MS lead by example.
    Why should or would developers/companies be interested to convert their apps when MS itself barely does it?

    Furthermore, instead of copying the Apple Appstore or Google Play, perhaps MS needs to adapt their store model by providing more incentives like lower/no rates (at least for the time being) or share in advertising revenue etc. Just copying has done nothing much really.

    Personally, I do not need or use a lot of apps and have found what is available sufficient for my needs, however, it is clear MS do not lead by example.

  17. Avatar

    5577

    "...however, the benefits of UWP are largely unknown to both users and developers."

    Haha. Why would any developers go through the work and cost when they don't know any benefits to doing so?

     

    Microsoft has this problem where they get paranoid about the latest threats in the marketplace and then instead of coming out with a killer feature, they take advantage of app developers (UWP) or users (Win 10) to save themselves. They clearly think more about themselves than the outsiders, who are only there to try and preserve their cash cows.

    • Avatar

      8578

      In reply to Winner:

      When MS reads the tech pressing saying "Post-PC, mobile is the future" etc they get scared. And when MS is scared they make the dumbest decisions. They read that Netscape was going to bury Windows because it's all about the browser so they got entangled in antitrust there (and of course, it turned out that the company with the biggest share of browsers don't rule the Internet as they feared). They read the Java was going to bury Windows so they adopted it and modified it in a way that favored Windows but got them in more legal trouble (mostly because the courts didn't realize that few developers would use Windows to create a cross-platform Java app. They created Win8 because it was all about mobile. 

  18. Avatar

    514

    One approach that can work for big developers is to follow Adobe's lead.  They've put the bulk of their creative suite in the cloud.  They then have small client side apps to provide interfaces to their back end.  That approach will make sense for large developers who see their future in the cloud. For the smaller devs with one-off apps, I think that the web app path is the better approach -- as one dev effort can be used across all device families.  HTML5 & CSS3 now provide a rich UI environment -- so I don't see a lot of advantages to individual device-centric apps.

  19. Avatar

    10533

    "Microsoft Tries to Lure Desktop Developers ... Again" or "With the understanding that few professional developers will ever re-create their apps for the UWP platform"

    Those quotes miss the point. So do a lot of the comments below from end users or web developers. I have been developing software for 20 years and most of the time I have done desktop software. Specifically line of business software. None of my apps will ever simply be downloaded over the internet or from an app store. For the apps I work on the desktop is really better than the web.

    You know what? All the apps I have ever worked on were about 10 years behind Microsoft. When you do LOB apps your focus is the industry you work in, government regulations etc. Technology takes a back seat. The business world moves a lot slower than you might think. (You would be surprised how much COBOL and RPG are on the back end of these systems.) Business software development is more like farming. It's lots of hard work, but you move slow and deliberately.

    We are going to rewrite our front end in UWP, according to my boss, it 2 years. What that really means is.... 4 years.

    Microsoft doesn't have to try "Again" to get us to go to UWP, we just haven't got there yet. Besides, if the PC industry does move to ARM. UWP will make a lot more sense. UWP is designed with ARM in mind. Win32 will kill your battery life on an ARM laptop.

    It's also good for touch development. Most people don't realize how many touch devices they use on a daily basis that are driven by Linux (non Android) and Windows. There the apps they are using are basically desktop apps (they use a desktop API). ATMs, Redbox, the touch screen on your car, the kiosk you use at the airport to check in with, the touch screen pinpads you swipe your card on. All of those are using Linux and Windows. I am starting to develop for that stuff. Some places Linux is best others Windows is. If I were developing a new modern POS system that used a large touch screen, I would do it with Windows 10 and UWP. 

    The move from Win32 to UWP is going to be like the move from Win16 to Win32. It's going to take a looong time. Remember when most people were using Win 3.1? There was a time when no one thought Win32 would take off because Win NT 3.1 was so slow. (XP was really Win NT 5.1)

    It will come, but I will be 10 years before people stop using Win32.

    • Avatar

      1377

      In reply to jsavage:

      Re the farming metaphor, you missed your chance for some apt fertilizer analogies.

      Re the Win16 to Win32 timeline, Windows 2 (late 1980s) doesn't count. Excel was about the only major application which ran on Windows before Windows 3, and Windows 3 appeared in 1990 but it wasn't stable until Windows 3.1 in 1992. That was the real starting point for Win16. By 1998 there was Windows 98 and NT4 had already been around for more than a year, and that's when the 32-bit migration began in earnest.

      Anyway, by the end of 1996 there were Win32 (supporting long filenames) versions of most vendors' major applications, not just everything which became MSFT Office but also from Lotus Development Corp, Borland International, WordPerfect, etc. Roughly 4.5 years after the debut of Windows 3.1, thus stable Windows. It's more than 4.5 year after Build 2011 and the Modern UI's debut. Granted that wasn't UWP, but UWP adoption is definitely on a slower adoption timeline than Win32.

  20. Avatar

    5842

    UWP may succeed if it would be very easy for developers to move desktop apps to UWP or UWP to desktop. Now moving to UWP means rewriting entire application UI from scratch with pretty significant changes to program structure. Desktop WPF is not compatible with UWP XAML for no reason. UWP apps also have no access rights like desktop apps. For example UWP app cannot open files from other apps. Utility apps like WinZip are simply impossible.

    Maybe MS could do this: make desktop WPF a UWP so that the same EXACT code could run on desktop and UWP app. Then think about programs that need multiple overlapping windows and finally figure out what to do with apps that may need more access rights. UWP cannot use primitive app model like iOS, Android and Windows Phone has.

  21. Avatar

    9457

    Slack's desktop app is a good example as well. They offer notification support so they are extending using UWP APIs.

    They are also pretty proud of it...

    https://slack.engineering/introducing-electron-to-the-windows-runtime-4fa789b93d90#.csacpktcj

  22. Avatar

    4800

    I think they need to hire some developers to write great UWP apps.  Don't port Word or Excel to UWP.  Make the next version from the ground up.  They also need more devices that are UWP only.  Create a great AppleTV clone and price it low so a lot of people buy them.  Once they get a market segment to move that way others will follow suit.

    • Avatar

      1377

      In reply to lvthunder:

      Do you have any idea how long it took MSFT to get Excel mostly correct in its more arcane statistics functions? Excel 2007, 22 years after it release the first Excel version for Macs.

      Do you mean a newly written replacement for Excel would use Excel's built-in worksheet functions and calculation engine essentially as-is and only rewrite the UI from scratch?

  23. Avatar

    427

    I think its funny when people say Microsoft is targeting Developers.  Yes, they are kind of, but what apps do you use on any platform who were developed by a single person or small group of people.  I would guess probably games, but most useful software is backed by a company usually of a big size like Facebook, Amazon,Adobe,Microsoft, or Google.  I guess I'm saying they need to make it as easy as possible and worthwhile for businesses to invest the time and money into deploying and supporting UWP versions of their apps.  

  24. Avatar

    289

    The carrots aren't working; maybe it's time for the stick.

    • Avatar

      2611

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      What would that stick be?  Take away Win32 support from Visual Studio?  Any stick would further expedite a move away from Windows.  I've been a MS .net developer for 15+ years and have no interest in UWP.

  25. Avatar

    129

    The biggest issue is that there are limitations on what the Win32 app can do when converted. Particularly around the registry. While these limitations are good, lots of apps would break.

  26. Avatar

    10014

    The key to success is MARKETING.  This is why their attempts have failed in the past.  They make a big announcement and then let it die a slow long death.  They need to change their marketing strategy to constantly remind developers to try out and use these new things.  They need to lead by providing many applications written as UWP.  They need to showcase success stories and developers who have made hundreds of thousands of dollars using this method.  Sell us on the idea!  Otherwise, we are all very busy and will stick with what we know.  Marketing!

    • Avatar

      1377

      In reply to Biff_Henderson:

      . . . They need to lead by providing many applications written as UWP. . . .

      Just how hard would it be to convert Notepad and Wordpad to UWP? A cynic like me would suspect MSFT hasn't either because the user experience is worse as UWP, there are things which just don't work for that type of program in UWP, or not even MSFT can rustle up the urgency to convert adequate Win32 software to UWP.

      • Avatar

        8578

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        They probably could convert Notepad and Wordpad to UWP, but MS has the same problem all developers would face: Do you make the UWP version identical to the Win32 version which would be redundant, or try to "Metroize" the UI and annoy your current users with big touch-oriented controls on multiple pages. There isn't a viable market for UWP only Windows which is the only platform that could truly benefit from UWP and Windows "Cloud" devices aren't going to change that.

      • Avatar

        5611

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        "there are things which just don't work for that type of program in UWP"

        Such as?

        • Avatar

          5842

          In reply to WP7Mango:

          Opening the file outside of app sandbox.

           

          This is the only reason why UWP notepad does not exist. UWP calculator does not have to access files so it is here. Notepad in UWP could be developed in 10 minutes but it would not be able to open files :)

           

          • Avatar

            1377

            In reply to illuminated:

            IOW, UWP can't be used for anything general? For example, a UWP hex editor would be impossible?

            Not sure I completely accept that. Doesn't the new UWP Paint 3D handle all the usual image file types? Would mime file associations or some equivalent be sufficient to allow a UWP app to edit a variety of file types? OK, just checked. Paint 3D imports and exports .BMP, .PNG, .JPG, etc files, but open/save appears to be restricted to its own 3D file format. Still, if UWP apps can import/export, that would be sufficient.

        • Avatar

          1377

          In reply to WP7Mango:

          In the case of Notepad and Wordpad, I have no idea. I was just trying to come up with reasons MSFT hasn't converted its own desktop applets to UWP.

          As for redundancy (skane2600's comment), why did MSFT bother converting Calculator to UWP? If there's never going to be a UWP Notepad, would that mean Windows Cloud would ship without a bundled text editor?

        • Avatar

          5615

          In reply to WP7Mango:

          He (or she) didn't say there *are* things that just don't work. He (or she) said perhaps that is one possible reason why Microsoft hasn't converted some of its own applications to UWP.

  27. Avatar

    2944

    There's almost no point for devs to make UWP apps right now if they're not targeting Xbox, HoloLens or phone. My company has a web based client that integrates with hardware. A lot of the hardware we integrate with would be impossible or difficult to work with if we went the full UWP route.

    The desktop bridge would work, but it'd be extra effort for almost no gain. Most of our users are still on 7, and will likely remain there until it EoL. After that, most will probably upgrade to 10, but still, what benefit do we gain? Not a whole lot.

    The only major benefit I could see would be moving our hardware to W10 IoT to allow us to support Macs, but even then it's completely hit or miss on whether or not the hardware drivers are supported.

  28. Avatar

    7152

    Paul, to be accurate, "Evernote dropped its full-on UWP app" is not true. Their previous app was a Windows 8 app, not UWP.

    • Avatar

      9562

      In reply to lmoritz:

      Semantics.  Windows 8 Metro app = WinRT8.  UWP=WinRT10.   Same shit.  

      Either way they're out.

      • Avatar

        54

        In reply to BoItmanLives:

        It's not even semantics. UWP and Metro Apps aren't exactly the same. They may work roughly the same way, and they may look roughly the same, but the codebase behind them is different. Not vastly different, but different enough to make a UWP app not work on Windows 8/8.1. WinRT8 does not equal WinRT10. They are similar, but not the same...

        Just because Metro wasn't very well received, doesn't mean that UWP is already dead, though I will agree that MS aren't doing themselves any favours by pretty much letting UWP die through inaction. They do need to lead by example. Until MS proves that Win32 apps can be UWP apps, no one else is going to take any action.

        • Avatar

          8578

          In reply to c.hucklebridge:

          Well, they're not byte to byte the same just as each new update of W10 isn't identical, but they are very close particularly at the API level. Most of the differences are buried at a low level. From the customer's POV however, the most significant difference is the incompatibility between 10 and 8 (possibly to push people to 10 rather than for any technical reason). The point is that if the market doesn't like Metro, they aren't going to like UWP either.

  29. Avatar

    214

    Paul, y'know, that's actually a good idea...

  30. Avatar

    10158

    I was a big Windows 8 fan. I had both RT versions of the Surface and used WP. The problem back then for me was that the App Store wasn't even reliable. It happened on multiple occasions where apps simply wouldn't install. You'd get an error code that would take you to the same troubleshooting guides. Eventually I figured it out myself--just uninstall any random app and then things would work again. The other issue was live tiles that simply stopped working. Then there was the 8.1 update only available from the store. Man, was that a crapshoot.

    I bring this up because this is what developers got to work with when MS kicked off their take on the App Store. It just never felt finished, and even when Windows 10 launched, not all the tools were ready. If I was a developer, what part of this would motivate me enough to put the effort into it? Even with all the bridges, it just doesn't appear to be working. Perhaps being behind the 8 ball all this time was the downfall--MS rushed too much in an effort to catch up, and the quality never caught up. 

  31. Avatar

    439

    It would sure be a vote of confidence if Microsoft would convert their apps to UWP, starting with Office.  Not Office Mobile, but straight up Office.  Just a thought.

    • Avatar

      1377

      In reply to littlejohnjt:

      The pessimistic and fully cynical spin on that would be that attempting full Office as UWP would produce something so obviously NOT full Office that it'd kill off UWP development for PCs once and for all. If UWP were too far behind Win32 in functionality, then it just may be in MSFT's best interest to be as vague as possible about UWP's capabilities. MSFT is real clear on what's in MSFT's interest, so take their actions and inactions as indicative.

      • Avatar

        5767

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Is there any evidence that UWP is any less capable for tablet/phone apps compared to iOS/Android? The real complaint seems to be about desktop apps.

        • Avatar

          1377

          In reply to MutualCore:

          Let me be clear. I don't care about any of the mobile versions of Office, UWP, iOS or Android. They're all toy versions compared to the Windows desktop version (full Office). What I'm trying to get at is whether UWP has reached a point where full Office could become UWP. To me that there is no UWP full Office seems to indicate that UWP isn't ready and/or that Win32 IPC and Automation aren't possible under UWP. For the latter, some day alternative UWP approaches may catch up, but it may take years for MSFT to develop a UWP equivalent to using a nonrelated scripting language to use Excel's object model to automate certain Excel-related tasks, e.g., scripting changing code in VBA modules in Excel workbooks.

  32. Avatar

    5394

    Microsoft needs to court certain important developers. iTunes and Adobe Acrobat comes to mind. Even the Skype mess can be resolved by going one route instead of two. Brand Name developers needs to be on board or it doesn't work.

    Another problem is UWP just looks horrible. They need to update the look and functionality.

    Finally, they need to resolve how UWP is presented. You can't put a UWP Tile shortcut on the desktop. Instead, it can only reside on the Taskbar or Start Menu. It's the bridge that can't be crossed. So they must find a way around the two work spaces. The two-faced nature of Windows is too much to overcome.

Leave a Reply