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Understanding Universal Apps in Windows 10

April 1, 2015

Microsoft has announced the death of the Windows Phone, replacing it with a new initiative to combine their desktop and mobile Operating Systems into one unified platform. This is great! Now I can install my favorite game or program on my phone. Right? Right!? No, unfortunately the marketing message and reality are far from the same. While Windows has begun to merge the code base of the two platforms, the reality is building apps for Windows Phone “Windows 10 for phones” is still its own process.

At a technical level, what Microsoft is providing is the framework to create a shared code base between Windows 10 and Windows 10 for Phones projects. Unless you plan on specifically leveraging their Universal App framework and their allowed programming languages (currently only C++ and C#), your program will not be supported on Windows 10 for Phones.

I applaud Microsoft for its efforts at created a unified Operating System, as well as offering free upgrades from Windows 7 and 8 to Windows 10. This is going to go a great way in creating a stable, modern environment for Windows developers going forward. Unfortunately, the strides they have made are not enough to make significant headway into the mobile market. True mobile-desktop cross platform apps remain Microsoft’s mobile Ace in the Hole. Unfortunately they have not yet figured out a way to make this happen (this would entail figuring out how to run programs written in x64/x86 architecture on an Arm chipset). Perhaps Windows 11 will deliver us true Universal Apps. If it does, Android might be in trouble.

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