Broader file-system access and UWP console apps are coming to Windows 10

Yesterday, we reported that multi-instancing support is coming to Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps in Windows 10. As the name implies, it allows apps to open multiple independent instances which can share data, if required. Additionally, Microsoft has also announced support for UWP console apps and broader file-system access with the next major release of Windows 10, which is version 1803.

Up until now, developers have only been able to build and publish either UWP apps with a graphical user interface (GUI) in the Microsoft Store, or apps with a command-line interface (CLI). However, UWP apps with CLI haven't been possible. This changes today with Microsoft's announcement, with the firm now supporting Console UWP apps in the Store. These apps use the console window for input and output. Microsoft says that such applications can be pinned to the Start Screen as a tile, however, the natural way to launch them would be using the Cmd or PowerShell window. These apps will have access to both console APIs and traditional Win32 APIs.

In addition, both multiple-instance apps and console UWP apps will be able to take advantage of broader file-system access, which comes in two forms. Microsoft explains that:

  • The first is used if the app has an AppExecutionAlias (either a regular windowed UWP app or a console UWP app). In this case, the app is granted permissions to the file-system from the current working directory and below. That is, the user executes the app from a command-line, and they choose the location in the file-system from which to launch the app. The app will have file-system permissions from that point downwards.
  • The second file-system feature grants permissions to the entire file-system (or, strictly, grants the app the exact same permissions to the entire file-system as the user who is running the app). This is a very powerful feature – and for this reason, it is protected by a restricted capability. If you submit an app to the Store that declares this capability, you will need to supply additional descriptions of why your app needs this powerful feature, and how it intends to use it.

All these features will offer greater flexibility and customization opportunities for for both developers and consumers in Windows 10 version 1803. You can check out Microsoft's complete documentation for UWP console apps here, and broader file-system access here.

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