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The new Windows App SDK version of the Microsoft Photos app is now generally available

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In April, Microsoft launched a new version of its Photos app for Windows 11 for members of the Windows Insider Program. It was made with Microsoft's Windows App SDK tools rather than the UWP (Universal Windows Platform), which was used to make previous versions of the Photos app.

This week, Microsoft confirmed in a blog post that the newly rebuilt Photos app is now generally available for all Windows 11 users. People who have Microsoft Photos version 2024.11050.3002.0 and above can check out the new app now.

The Windows App SDK tools launched in March 2021. App developers can use it to create applications for Windows 11, along with Windows 10 version 1809 and later. The latest major version of Windows App SDK is 1.5, which launched in late February 2024.

In the blog post, Microsoft described some of the challenges that the Photos development team had to switch over from the UWP version to the Windows App SDK version. The highly technical post also goes over some of the big performance boosts the Photos app received with the use of the Windows App SDK.

One of the changes is the use of the WebView2 web technology that's also used in Microsoft's Edge browser. The improvements in the Photos app with WebView2 support include:

  • WebGL support enabling improved image rendering quality.
  • Superior performance when sharing high quality images between the native and web layers using SharedBuffer.
  • Supporting a more up to date version of Chromium, which carries the latest improvements and security updates.
  • Allowing us to optimize the performance of our AI Service which requires sending pixel buffers back and forth from our Web Editor to our Native App for AI inference.

Microsoft also revealed that it is still working on even more performance improvements for the Photos app, which will be added in the future. One of them will let the Photos App window run in its own process. You can see the early results of that change in a YouTube clip, which shows the Photos app running much faster with the use of multi-process compared to the current single-process version.

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