What’s New in Windows 11 for Developers

Posted on June 24, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Dev, Windows 11 with 28 Comments

While today’s Windows 11 announcement was clearly focused on consumers, some of the biggest news is for a different audience: The developers who need to support this platform for it to be truly successful.

“Today, we’ll show you the next era of Windows and how we are embracing Windows [as an] open platform,” Microsoft’s Kevin Gallo writes. “This means everyone has open access to run the widest range of apps on Windows, enabling all developers to build the apps and experiences that empower users to create, learn, and play.”

There are five key themes here:

New Windows Store. The new Windows Store in Windows 11 will support even more app types than the current Store, which supports Universal Windows Platform (UWP), .NET, Win32 (desktop), and PWA web apps, though there will be improvements for those app types as well. But the biggest news is the addition of Android apps from the Amazon Store. New Store features include a “pop-up” Store that lets users install apps directly from the browser, plus more revenue sharing options for developers (including keeping 100 percent of revenues when you bring your own commerce platform). A preview is coming soon.

Web development improvements. None of this feels new to me, but developers can use PWABuilder3 to a PWA from an existing web app in minutes. The WebView2 runtime will also be included with Windows 11. And tools like Windows Terminal and the new Microsoft Edge DevTools will be included with Windows 11.

New features for native Windows apps. Project Reunion is being officially branded as the Windows App SDK and will be released later this year. A new ARM64 Emulation Compatible tool will let developers build apps that run natively on Windows on ARM, and with ARM64EC, developers can mix native ARM and emulated x64 code in the same processes and modules.

WinUI. WinUI3 supports new Windows 11 UIs with rounded geometry, refreshed iconography, new typography, micro-interactions (such as Lottie animations), and a refreshed color palette. New materials like Mica also add meaningful hierarchy, Microsoft notes.

Game developer improvements. Microsoft’s Game Development Kit (GDK) will be made publicly available and free of charge on GitHub. The GDK includes the tools, libraries, and documentation needed to build games for the PC and adds to the Game Stack collection of technologies Microsoft offers today to help developers create, publish, monetize, and scale their games. New gaming technologies, that were previously only available on console will be available in Windows 11 as well, including DirectStorage and Auto HDR.

You can learn more at the Develop for Windows website.

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Comments (28)

28 responses to “What’s New in Windows 11 for Developers”

  1. navarac

    If developers ignore the Store as they have for the last 8+ years or so, I fear Microsoft will lose interest in Windows once again. Hopefully their not taking 30% may help?

    • scovious

      Even if developers ignore the store, it still makes a compelling argument against the digital store tax on mobile platforms; and that could help everyone except the richest companies in the world.

      • SWCetacean

        Yup, this looks to be directly in response to the current Apple vs. Epic kerfuffle. Now Microsoft can say "Look, we allow developers to use their own commerce platforms and we don't take any share of it!" The perception shift would then pressure Apple to drop its closed-off model ("If fellow trillion-dollar company Microsoft can do it, why can't you do it too, Apple?"), which would benefit Microsoft in its plans to put its own subscription services (Game Pass in particular) in the Apple ecosystem.

        • bettyblue

          Hard to pressure Apple when the Windows store is a complete joke compared to any other store.

          For it to really mean something they should do the same thing on the Xbox store. They won’t because that store is not a joke and makes real money.

  2. saint4eva

    UWP liveth. Long live UWP.

  3. wp7mango

    My perspective on this, as a developer, is that existing Android app developers have suddenly become Windows developers too. This might be the catalyst that's needed.

    In terms of target audience, the combined Windows and Android user base is gigantic.

  4. Piyer

    quite disappointed. Was looking forward to details of windows on ARM builds. No mention of supporting any of ARM chips like RPi, Rockchip etc. Not sure if the win 10 IoT is kind of dead!

  5. locust_infested_orchard_inc.

    Android app execution on Windows 11 uses Intel Bridge Technology that is a runtime post-compiler that enables applications to run natively on x86-based devices.

    It is however not clear from Intel's press release whether Intel Bridge Technology works only on Intel Core CPUs, or whether non Core CPUs, such as Pentium and Celeron, will benefit from Intel Bridge.

  6. bart

    I am kind of surprised the Android apps come from Amazon, and not from Samsung.

  7. dftf

    Some replies Paul:

    New Windows Store: any news on dropping the requirement for apps to be packaged in the MSIX insaller format I've read on other sites? MSI and EXE installers would instantly allow more apps to be added -- not one of the current major browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Brave, Vivaldi) is in the Store today, for example...

    Game developer improvements: [...] New gaming technologies, that were previously only available on console, will be available in Windows 11 as well, including DirectStorage and Auto HDR.

    I wonder if these will get back-ported to Win10? Some features from Windows 7 were backported to Vista in the "Platform Update", and some Windows 8 features also got backported to Windows 7... so given some devices may be ruled-out from a Win11 upgrade (if the requirements for a TPM and Secure Boot I'm hearing are true) it may pay to back-port them to ensure sales remain

    • jtemplin

      On this afternoon's presentation, they said MSIX will not be required but they wanted to encourage MSIX as the best way to package apps because its benefits (the sandboxed installer, automatic updates, etc.).

  8. rmac

    Interesting there was no specific reference to Blazor or WinForms though it's assumed all is comprehensive under the .NET mantra.

  9. lezmaka

    The "100% revenue when bringing your own commerce platform" thing sounds nice but then you read a little further - it doesn't apply to PC games.

    • scovious

      True, but least 15% is better than Devs get on consoles, iOS and Android.

      • davepete

        Actually, Google's cut for Android games and Apple's cut for iOS or Mac games is also 15%. (Unless you earn >$1 million in app sales).

      • jtemplin

        I'm a small developer selling two apps on the store. At my scale, the 15% is a very good deal because I don't have to maintain my own e-commerce website. Plus Microsoft collects payments in local currency and pays out all the VAT and taxes to governments worldwide. That's huge in itself. I gladly pass that off that job to them.

  10. sherlockholmes

    Apps from the Amazon store? No thanks. Not another company that spies on me.

    • locust_infested_orchard_inc.

      You quite rightly frown at the thought of having to download apps from both the Amazon Store and the Google Store. So the only way to mitigate the pernicious data trafficking activities is to block all Android app egress traffic from your devices, using an appropriate software firewall.

      And in the first instance, to download the app APKs (without the need for a Google account) directly from Google's servers (services.googleapis.com). This download procedure can be realised by using the Chrome extension named 'APK Downloader', within the Vivaldi internet browser.

    • solomonrex

      Announcing Android Apps, but with an Amazon/Intel partnership of all things, was really offputting. Much like Android on Chomebooks, I'm not sure this was fully baked.

      • bettyblue

        I could not agree more. If I used Android I would never use Amazon. Intel also be my last choice for a CPU choice on any platform

        • locust_infested_orchard_inc.

          As you despise Intel, feel free to use AMD; should the x86-64 architecture not take your fancy, you are more than welcome to migrate to ARMv8, or should you be so brave, to RISC-V.

      • marshalltm

        Respectfully, I think this is a great move. It gives critical mass to the Amazon App store to make developers want to develop android apps without all the Google SDK spying on you stuff that is required if they used the Play Store. Windows needs a way to add more apps to their store.

        Apple Store---> Never going to happen

        Google Play Store-----> Of course they would but all the Play store data monitoring will have to come with it

        Amazon ---> weakest of the stores, but the least intrusive to windows users also.

        In my mind this is a bit like Chrome Edge vs. Chrome. Using a chrome web browser without the google stuff.

        • dftf

          I'm going to hazard-a-guess that with the Amazon Store, you'll sign into it using a Microsoft Account and there will be no-requirement to have an Amazon account (via some sort-of connector-service)

  11. ikjadoon

    >New Store features include a “pop-up” Store that lets users install apps directly from the browser, plus more revenue sharing options for developers (including keeping 100 percent of revenues when you bring your own commerce platform). 

    That's huge. So like the "Get it on the App Store" iOS / "Download from the Play Store" Android buttons?

    The 100% is absolutely fantastic; this is what app developers originally wanted, but Apple & Google really set a horrible rent-seeking standard.

    • dftf

      "... a “pop-up” Store that lets users install apps directly from the browser ..."

      I'd assume they mean that installing an app will be as simple as for doing a Web App: it asks "Do you want to install this app" and without opening the Store, the app installs.

      As otherwise nothing is different from how it works currently -- if you go to a site right-now which has a "Get it from the Microsoft Store" and are using Edge, you currently will get a message asking "This site wants to open the Microsoft Store", you tap Allow and the Store opens on the page for that app.

  12. davepete

    I have a different take on this: Microsoft embracing using Amazon's Android app store to install apps on Windows is Microsoft admitting defeat for 3rd party Windows native apps. They want Windows devs to build Android apps, get them approved on the Amazon Android app store, then they can get installed on Windows.

    Think about it: developers don't target Windows first; Microsoft didn't get any UWP, PWA, iOS bridge traction; so they're going with running Android apps in Windows. But they're offloading much of the work to Amazon and Intel, even removing themselves from the commerce part. To me, when your platform loses 3rd party native app development, it's not thriving.

    I have a suggestion for Microsoft if it wants Windows to thrive again: make Windows app development so simple (and free) that millions of geeky teens and office workers with Windows machines start writing apps for it. Same principle as TikTok and Instagram and YouTube -- so simple there's no reason NOT to publish videos, all the complexity is hidden. When Microsoft had its Hypercard-like Visual Basic platform with simple steps (make a button, write a little script), Windows enjoyed a HUGE community of app developers -- basically there was no learning curve. Any creative person could write a VB app. (And Apple is moving in this direction too -- with Swift Playgrounds and building iOS apps natively on iPads.)

    Part 2 of my advice for Microsoft: post complete Windows projects and source code for a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation app, a drawing app, a side-scrolling game, a shooting 3D game, a puzzle game. So those geeky teens can go wild with and write their own tweaked versions they can sell or give away on Windows' app store. Much of the work of writing an app for any platform is figuring out all the arcane steps. Remove those impediments by publishing great, complete Windows projects and source code for all the app categories (NOT existing spaghetti code legacy Office apps, and NOT summer intern projects).

    If Microsoft can't generate any excitement from geeky teens and office workers, Windows is dead.