Microsoft today announced a major new initiative that will finally alleviate some of the lingering confusion around Windows application development. Project Reunion, as it’s called, aims to unify the Windows Development Platform, which is currently split between Win32, which has long been the standard way to build a Windows app, and the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). , on which Microsoft has started betting. during the ill-fated era of Windows 8 (you may remember UWP by the nickname “metro style apps”).
It’s a move the company reported at its 2019 developer conference when Microsoft Developer Platform chief Kevin Gallo explained how the developers told Microsoft they would like it to ” decouples many parts of the Universal Windows Platform so that you can adopt them gradually. ” And that’s pretty much what the company is doing now with Project Reunion.
The idea here is to unify access to existing Win32 and UWP APIs and decouple them from the operating system, using tools like the .NET NuGet Package Manager.
“This will provide a common platform for new applications,” Gallo wrote in today’s announcement for Project Reunion. “Plus, it will help you update and modernize your existing apps with the latest features, whether they’re C ++, .NET (including WPF, Windows Forms, and UWP) or React Native.
For now, Project Reunion consists of two components that you can get your hands on soon. The first is WinUI 3 Preview 1, the latest preview version of Microsoft’s UI framework for Windows. “WinUI applications can have a modern user interface that adapts and adapts to all devices, whether it’s creating a new project or modernizing an existing application (including C ++, WPF, and Windows Forms) incrementally, ”explains Gallo.
The second is a new preview of WebView2, which now makes it easier to integrate a Chromium-based WebView into Windows Forms, WPF and UWP / WinUI 3 applications. WebView 2 is decoupled from the operating system and “will bring the power of Web to the full spectrum of Windows applications.
It looks like Microsoft will be doing most of the work on Project Reunion in public using a GitHub repository to share more about the project and engage with the developer community.
Microsoft’s strategy for developing Windows applications has remained a bit chaotic in recent years.
With UWP, Microsoft also hoped to emulate the app store model that had worked so well on mobile platforms. When the Store started, apps had to be written with UWP, but if you’re like me, you never cared about the Microsoft Store because except for a few big-name apps and maybe a few games, it doesn’t. there weren’t really any. reason to use it (and a lot of apps there were of questionable quality), so last year Microsoft already relaxed the requirements and allowed Win32 apps. On the contrary, today’s announcement is Microsoft’s way to grab some of the work on UWP and bring some of the ideas from that framework to the larger Windows development platform.
As part of today’s announcements around Windows, Gallo also noted that Windows Terminal 1.0, which allows developers to quickly run any executable, whether it is from a Windows Subsystem for Linux distribution ( WSL) or Azure Cloud Shell, is now available for businesses. use.
Speaking of the Windows Subsystem for Linux, Microsoft also today announced support for GPU compute workflows for Linux tools and support for Linux GUI applications, so you can run a Linux GUI application directly on your Windows machine without the need for a third party X server, which was the case until now. Soon, WSL will also provide a simplified installation experience that will allow you to use the “wsl.exe – install” command to install Linux applications on Windows.