What Makes Universal App Platform So Attractive to Devs?

Microsoft's Thomas Fennel demonstrated several "bridge" innovations in the Universal App platform that should appeal to traditional developers.

The release of Windows 10 is another solid step in Microsoft's developing Universal App Platform. The was the message of the Wednesday morning keynote delivered by Thomas Fennel, principal program manager on the Windows 10 team.  Speaking to a packed house at Visual Studio Live! on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA, Fennel took the crowd through the enhancements to Windows 10 that help it serve as a bridge toward that Universal App Platform.

"Windows 10 is pivotal to our entire platform," he says. "It's a different approach to application development. And now there are bridges so code from Android and iOS apps can be ported over." Fennel was referring to the Universal Windows Platform bridges that let you port over apps from other platforms.

This Universal App Platform and model is a primary focus at Microsoft. "I'm here to talk about the Universal App model. What do we mean by app model? Why do we even need an app model?" Fennel says. "And what does it mean to the Windows 10 platform? We want to make it easy for apps to run together."

He listed off some basic app functionality like how do you install your app, how do you handle enterprise deployments, how do you uninstall your app, how long is your app intended to run, how do you handle versioning, how do you integrate with the OS, how many privileges does your app have and what does your app do? "We hope the Universal App model answers these questions and helps explain how the system works," he says.

The Universal Windows Platform apps have to run on all devices, including mobile devices, phones, PCs, tablets and other devices, he says. "For those want the most breadth, we have to let you run across huge spectrum. We have ability to let this grow."

Cradle-to-grave app management is another big part of the Universal App model. "You have to be able to install the app in a consistent and resilient way. It has to be managed as far as runtime environment. How much memory will you need for resource management?" he says. "Being able to update an app is also critical. The app model is way to update apps without user intervention. Finally, users need to be able to trust they can uninstall the app."

Fennel then elaborated on the applications bridges for porting apps from other platforms over to the Windows Universal Platform. Project Astoria is for porting Android apps, Project Islandwood is for iOS apps and the Centennial Project is for classic Windows apps. The project names are clearly keyed to the type of apps for which they were developed. "We want to make it easy for users to get your apps," he says. "The bridges in general are about making it easy."

Fennel's address wrapped up the general sessions at Visual Studio Live! Redmond. Looking ahead to the fall, Brian Harry will cover embracing DevOps with Visual Studio and Mary Jo Foley will discuss Microsoft's new strategy and relevance during the Keynote addresses at Visual Studio Live! New York, which will run from September 28 to October 1.

About the Author

Lafe Low has been a technology editor and writer for more than 25 years. Most recently, he was the editor in chief of TechNet magazine. He has also held various editorial positions with Redmond magazine, CIO magazine and InfoWorld. He also launched his own magazine entitled Explore New England, and has published four editions of his guidebook The Best in Tent Camping: New England.

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