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Inside the Universal Windows Platform Bridges

Microsoft's four-fold path leading to a singular coding platform is becoming a real possibility.

Astoria. Islandwood. Centennial. Westminster. None of these project names have any connection to one another, as far as we can tell -- except that each is a project names for four Universal Windows Platform Bridge tools that can be used to develop Windows 10 apps from specific source code environments for the newer Windows Store. The eventual aim is for those apps to be able to run on any Windows form factor, from phones to desktops to devices running the Windows Holographic Platform environment.

The tools were announced at Build on Wednesday in a segment of the keynote featuring Microsoft Terry Myerson, who quickly demonstrated each of the features.

Project Astoria is the Android runtime bridge, which can be used from the Android Studio IDE to refactor Android app code for the Windows 10 platform. It will include a Windows emulator, and is supposed to allow for debugging and testing of apps from either the Android IDE or Visual Studio IDE. (Coincidentally, Astoria was used in the past for Windows Communications Framework Data Services, according to this Wikipedia reference page; it's not uncommon for Microsoft to reuse a name.)

In similar fashion. Project Islandwood toolkit is an iOS bridge for developing from Objective-C. Myerson demonstrated some of the progress his group has made with the tool, showing the ability to debug and test Xcode from within the Visual Studio IDE.

Project Centennial is aimed at Windows developers who want a shortcut for recasting current .NET and Win32 Windows apps for the newer Windows Store.

Finally, Project Westminster is aimed at Website publishers who want to package up their sites for delivery via the Windows Store. Those apps will be able to take advantage of Windows APIs, and Website updates are automatically updated without having to republish the package to the Windows Store.

The tools are currently in preview, and Microsoft is looking for preview developers; to sign up, go here. The company plans to deliver them sometime this summer.

Watch Myerson's demonstration of the bridge tools in this Day 1 keynote; it's at around the 1:46:00 mark. You can also get some background on the development of the Universal Windows Platform from the Day 1 sessions in this presentation recorded at Build 2015.

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You Tell 'Em, Readers: If you've read this far, know that Michael Domingo, Visual Studio Magazine Editor in Chief, is here to serve you, dear readers, and wants to get you the information you so richly deserve. What news, content, topics, issues do you want to see covered in Visual Studio Magazine? He's listening at [email protected].

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