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.”
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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.