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Windows Dev Center Helps Submit Progressive Web Apps to Microsoft Store

Microsoft's new acceptance of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) in the Microsoft Store for Windows 10 just got easier with the ability to submit them via Windows Dev Center.

PWAs, a three-year-old Google-sponsored project, is a hot area of Web development, letting coders create Web apps that look, feel and act more like native apps.

Microsoft came on board with the technology in February when it announced they would be accepted into the Microsoft Store, and the first batch appeared last month.

Now, it's easier to submit them to the store through the Windows Dev Center, Microsoft's one-stop shop for content, samples, downloads, design inspiration and other resources.

"Publishing a PWA to the Microsoft Store give you full access to everything Windows Dev Center has to offer including control over how your app appears in the Microsoft Store, the ability to view and respond to feedback (reviews and comments), insights into telemetry (installs, crashes, shares, etc.), and the ability to monetize your app," the Dev Center team said in a blog post Monday (May 1).

Developers need to generate an app package for their PWA submissions, which the team said could be done with the free PWA Builder tool. That tool -- which works via a Web-based or command-line interface -- helps incorporate that "progressive" technology that makes Web apps more native-like, such as service workers and Web app manifests.

"Microsoft is touting benefits to cataloging PWAs in the Microsoft Store," explained Kurt Mackie at out sister publication, RedmondMag.com. When that's done, PWAs will get isolated from the browser via a "sandboxed container" and they also can use Microsoft's WinRT APIs. If given permission, they can tap Windows 10 contacts and calendar data like other apps, and they can be launched through Windows 10's Start button or Cortana."

Although Microsoft's PWA initiative is primarily targeting the Windows 10 desktop (with no mention of any mobile designs), Google explains that PWA provide user experiences on mobile devices with the reach of the Web while also being:

  • Reliable - Load instantly and never show the downasaur [offline symbol], even in uncertain network conditions.
  • Fast - Respond quickly to user interactions with silky smooth animations and no janky scrolling.
  • Engaging - Feel like a natural app on the device, with an immersive user experience.

Microsoft in February declared there was no conflict between its embrace of PWAs in the Windows Store and its Universal Windows Platform (UWP) offering.

"Given the overlap in terms of capabilities, we often get asked about the recommended approach: PWA or UWP," the company said. "We see this as a false dichotomy! In fact, on Windows 10, the Universal Windows Platform fully embraces Progressive Web Apps, because EdgeHTML is a foundational component of UWP.

"For developers who are building a fully-tailored UWP experience, building from the ground up with native technologies may make the most sense. For developers who want to tailor an existing web codebase to Windows 10, or provide a first-class cross-platform experience with native capabilities and enhancements, PWA provides an on-ramp to the Universal Windows Platform that doesn’t require demoting or forking existing web resources."

Along with the ability to submit PWAs to the Windows Store, Microsoft also announced two other enhancements to Dev Center: health report enhancements and improvements to the store listing page.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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