A closer look at Windows 10 and Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps
This summer Microsoft has released their new Operating System – Windows 10. Its most revolutionary aspect is that it runs on a variety of devices: desktops, mobiles, IoT (Internet of Things), Xbox, HoloLens and Surface Hub (huge interactive whiteboard). Furthermore, it allows software developers to create universal apps available on all of these devices. This utility excites the whole IT business. Seems like a breakthrough that can finally shake the duopoly in mobile market. Will the Microsoft’s expectations come true?
Windows 10 is accessible for free for all Win7 and Win8 users having licensed OS. If you want to try the new possibilities Microsoft offers, upgrade your Windows system, then download Microsoft Visual Studio and do a custom installation it with Universal Windows App Development Tools enabled. Unlike Apple and Google, Microsoft doesn’t require a fee for developer license. You just need to register the device you are using for development. Click here and follow the steps in order to learn how to register your developer’s device.
Another exciting feature of Windows 10 is an ability to use Android and iOS apps. To make it happen you need to use Project Astoria for the former and Project Islandwood for the latter. The first one lets you reuse native Android code written in Java/C++ with little or zero fixes to adapt to Universal Windows Platform. With Astoria you use your existing IDE such as Eclipse, IntelliJ and Android Studio. The other project allows you use your Objective-C code with some (more than in Android case) fixes to make Windows app. Creating a tool for translating Swift into Windows-readable code is still in progress. There is also Westminster Project that enables you to publish your responsive web app to the Windows Store as a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app, while reusing your existing code and workflow.
The newest Microsoft’s OS comes with some downsides. The most intriguing feature is update service which cannot be blocked by the user. It means that we are not in charge of deciding whether an upcoming update should or should not be installed. While most of the users should benefit from it (old versions of OS is what hackers usually take advantage of), it can cause serious problems. For instance, KB3081424 was a cumulative patch for existing bugs which actually caused worse problems than it was fixing – it started an endless loop of failed installations and reboots of the system, making the usage of PC impossible. There were also serious issues with multi-screen drivers and Windows Explorer patches. If you take this into consideration, than mandatory auto-update may be really frustrating and discouraging.
Nevertheless, Windows 10 is a right step for Microsoft. Project Astoria is more advanced than Islandwood. Its use seems really effortless (Microsoft ensures us about this) and promo video confirms that. It’s great that it can easily change Android-native services such as Google Maps to Microsoft-friendly like Bing Maps. The whole Universal Windows Platform concept with additional Astoria, Islandwood and Westminster Projects looks really promising. Now, it’s up to developers to make a breakthrough happen. Will Microsoft bridge an app gap? The Silicon Valley giant estimates that it will take about 2-3 years to have Windows 10 installed on 1 billion devices. Its a bold declaration and I will eagerly watch its fulfillment.