Microsoft announces universal Windows, Windows Phone apps

As part of Microsoft's BUILD 2014 keynote address, the company announced Universal Windows apps, a way for developers to create apps that will work across all of Microsoft's Windows platforms and form factors. Neowin hypothesized this development in November.

Along with new ways for developers to make apps that work with Windows 8, Windows Phone and Windows RT, using the Windows runtime environment, the people who buy an app on one platform and access the versions of the app on other platforms.

Microsoft will offer an update to its Visual Studios 2013 development tools that will enable app makers to create software that will work across those platforms. It's certainly a big step towards what many believe will be a true merge of Windows and Windows Phone operating systems sometime in the future. In the meantime, the Universal Windows app program will be a welcome change for developers who won't have to work as hard anymore to adapt their apps for different systems.

As we reported on Monday, Microsoft now says there are 400,000 combined apps in the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store that generate 14 million downloads per day. That's yet another sign that Microsoft wants developers to consider Windows 8 and Windows Phone as part of one system.

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This is cool, and as a dev it is what I've been waiting for. My only fear is it will result in too many rubbish scaled apps... coming from responsive web development, I know too many developers simply "scale" or "column" a website, rather than actually thinking about how to handle each form factor apprpriately.

How far does this deviate from the existing WinRT & WP8 models? Which type will be easier to recompile to this model - or do either store apps require a thorough reworking?

JonnyLH said,
According to Verge, XB1 was also on the list and shown! Holy moly.

Yep. Also with input parity, so the controller or Kinect would work with the App as expected, and Kinect on Windows would also work with the App just as it does on the XB1.

This has been so many years coming and waiting its been ridiculous, about friggin time MS!!!!

Now just ditch this RT crap and get the exact same OS running on all 3 devices and we are set.

92GTA said,
This has been so many years coming and waiting its been ridiculous, about friggin time MS!!!!

Now just ditch this RT crap and get the exact same OS running on all 3 devices and we are set.

Which RT crap are you talking about? WinRT is what makes the universal Apps possible.

As for the Surface and other (RT) tablets, they probably will never disappear, as they are the same code base as WP8. In other words, Windows on ARM. (The WinSxS/Win32 subsystem is hidden on WP8, but it is there and the code base is the same.)

Maybe RT as a tablet product will disappear in the 'public' eyes, but it won't go away as long as phones use ARM processors. Also with the new 64bit ARMv8 processors, Microsoft is looking to offer Windows Server on ARM.

I doubt it, people aren't likely to decide they no longer want to use the desktop just because they can use the an app on all of their phone/tablet/laptop.

The desktop is still a radically different usage model, serving many applications and needs that Metro/Modern UI isn't attempting to cover at this point.
It's very good for developers, and very convenient for users who are all in on Microsoft's ecosystem... but I doubt it's going to convince anyone whose already decided they prefer iOS/Android or are still primarily using the desktop rather then the Modern UI on their notebook/desktop.

I don't think this has any impact one way or another on those developing Win32 apps, nor on the likelyhood of users purchasing said apps.

Not really. WinRT still isn't powerful enough to create actual powerful software. Look how long VLC took to create it and it's still not properly functional.

Powerful text editors, software like Adobes (Lightroom and Photoshop and the likes), ... There's going to be a lot that doesn't work in the RT world.

Dot Matrix said,
Pretty much a death knell for Win32 apps.

In Microsoft's words, repeatedly stated... "Absoluetely not."

They are introducing a WinRT broker system for enterprise and side loading Apps to run Win32 code in Modern Apps, that they will be FURTHER extending to allow developers for the Windows Store to use later on.

Win32 isn't going anywhere, they were very clear about this, and very clear that even the really old compatibility systems in Windows were not going anywhere either.

This was coming and it's going to be awesome for all of us as well as devs. Great to see they're still working hard to integrate everything. Next ad din XB1.

They're really sticking it to the people that said the one windows vision wasn't going to work. There was a bit of growing pains, but if this is where we're going it was worth it.

So now (soon) we developers can target Phone, Tablets, Desktops, Laptops and Xbox with one code base.

Here's where the dummies that didn't buy into Windows Phone/Windows RT scramble.

I didn't read anything about Xbox being support in part of the universal Windows. I'm sure they would of pointed out if the Xbox was supported. It could be possibly supported in the future.

But another posted this:
JonnyLH, "According to Verge, XB1 was also on the list and shown! Holy moly. "

I don't have time to watch a keynote that's why I read things. Unfortunately neowin writers don't always cover every aspect and detail of the keynotes just most of the highlights.

xrobwx said,
Office is universal but you need to buy licences for each machine.

Office 365 allows you to install on 5 desktops and 5 tablets.

Too bad my Surface Pro 2 isn't considered a tablet. Hopefully when they release the touch version of Office it will use a tablet license on my 365 account.

Thunderbuck said,
Your Surface Pro ISN'T a tablet. It's an Ultrabook with a touch screen and a removable keyboard.

Technically, it is more of a Tablet than an iPad. (Writing and Touch)

It also doesn't come with a keyboard, so I'm not sure how you would remove it.

I think you are confusing the Surface Pro with other 2 in 1 or convertible devices.

Thunderbuck said,
Your Surface Pro ISN'T a tablet. It's an Ultrabook with a touch screen and a removable keyboard.

Well, right on Microsoft's Surface website it says it's the most productive TABLET on the planet. What I really meant was that I hope that if I install the touch version of office (once it's released) that it counts as a tablet in Office 365.