Microsoft is to focus on developers again with the upcoming Windows 10 Anniversary Update release, adding a host of new features and APIs to encourage developers to build on the updated application platform introduced with Windows 10.
The Windows 10 Anniversary Update of Microsoft's operating system is set to arrive at the end of July, one year after the platform's original release. It is a major update of the code, delivering a number of enhancements, especially in areas such as the user interface.
One of the areas that is getting renewed attention is development, as Microsoft tries to convince programmers to start making broader use of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) APIs introduced for Windows 10.
"As a company we've been trying to steer ourselves more in the direction that enables developers to really light up on top of Windows. It's a kind of refocus to make sure that developers are front and centre in the company," said Kevin Gallo, vice president of Microsoft's Windows Development organisation.
This approach is two-pronged, one aimed at building apps for Windows and one at using Windows as a core development platform itself, whether developers are building apps for Windows itself or for back-end services and websites. "Windows becomes the place to go and do your development," Gallo said.
Part of this involves giving developers the technology with which to innovate, including new capabilities such as integration with Cortana, enabling speech and Windows Ink for input.
However, another key new feature from Microsoft's point of view is the ability to bring traditional Windows applications into the Windows Store, which currently serves only new-style apps created using the UWP APIs. This is dubbed Project Centennial.
"Probably the biggest capability on the developer side is Project Centennial where we're allowing our Win32 developers, the faithful who have built for the platform and have great applications and want to bring them to the store, to do that as easily as possible," Gallo said.
This is not as straightforward as it sounds, as new-style apps are sandboxed to prevent them messing up the system through changes to the Windows Registry and other system files that typically happens when a traditional Windows app is installed.
For this reason, Project Centennial uses some form of application virtualisation, like the firm's App-V technology, that packages a Win32 app inside a sandbox with its own version of the registry and other dependencies.
Microsoft is making a Desktop App Converter tool available that takes a traditional Windows installation file, runs it inside an isolated Windows environment, and then captures the installation into an Appx file that can be distributed in the Windows Store.
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