Developers: the Windows 11 platform is back

With the new Windows 11, Microsoft is banking on “Developers, developers, developers!” ”

Image: Microsoft

There is a lot to be done on the launch of Windows 11. It is not only that Microsoft is releasing a major new version of Windows, but it is also a reaffirmation of the role of Windows in Microsoft history. The past few years may have given the impression that Azure was Microsoft’s future, with Windows destined to be just one more customer for a global, cross-platform cloud.

SEE: Windows 11: Installation, Security, and More Tips (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)

While it never really was, there was a perception that Windows was an afterthought when it came to investing. Windows 11 aims to change that perception, with Kevin Gallo, the Windows Developer Platform CVP leading the charge. We sat down with him last week to talk about what Windows 11 has to offer developers. “It’s in our DNA,” he said, “Our company was created by developers, it was created for developers.” It’s history; now he’s looking at the next step: “Microsoft is once again committed to making Windows the best platform to build on. “

It is an important commitment to make and an essential commitment to respect. So, is Microsoft doing as well as talking? First there is the new open Microsoft Store. For Windows 11 to be successful as a platform, it must be able to quickly deliver software to users and help them find the tools they need, while also giving developers a way to make a living from their work.

Make a living: Distribution

Microsoft Store’s own payment system takes a relatively low cut, but opening the store to all payment engines is a big step. This means that not only can you find software like Adobe’s Creative Cloud there, but you can download other stores as well. Amazon and Epic Games have announced that they will add theirs to Microsoft’s, with more likely to follow.

SEE: Windows 11 drops on October 5: mark your calendars (TechRepublic)

You’ll also be able to find apps of all types in the Microsoft Store, from modern apps built with the latest technology to older Win32 apps, with support for most popular installers. Support for PWAs will also be improved, with sites like Reddit available as a PWA in the Store. Microsoft will still keep its storefront, but that won’t stop you from downloading your code. Other restrictions, such as browser engine requirements, are also removed: other browsers like Firefox can be downloaded from the Store. Instead of limiting what Store apps can do, Microsoft relies on the reputation and rating of quality apps to propel them to the top.

Make users happy: design

It is also important to encourage developers to create applications that take advantage of the many new features of Windows 11. This is where the Windows Application SDK and associated WinUI 3 tools are essential, building on the existing Fluent Design model and adding a new Mica material to its controls. Both will also support older versions of Windows, following the Windows support lifecycle, but when apps run on Windows 11, the new behavior will turn on without the developers needing to deal with it. several versions. As Gallo notes, “It’s not just about building small widgets, it’s about launching platform capabilities at scale.”

Part of this is providing new webs for your code, bundling the Webview 2 control with Windows and updating it with the Edge browser. Microsoft is moving some of its existing web apps, such as Teams, to Webview 2, which offers a lighter app model and deeper Windows integration than Electron and other similar hosted JavaScript environments. You can either let Windows update Webview on its own schedule or, if you need to make sure capabilities don’t change, bundle and manage your own copies, providing a long-term support alternative for on-board systems.

SEE: A new Microsoft Store: what does it mean for you and your business? A lot in fact (TechRepublic)

Other new features are less obvious, but essential to deliver a consistent user experience. The new WinUI controls provide their own relatively subtle animations (Microsoft has reversed some of its early animation shots when you hover over an icon, but it uses it to give the user a subtle confirmation that they’ve clicked an icon. ). All you need to do is add the controls to your app. Microsoft is providing design advice on how to use these new animation features, with Gallo telling us that the advice is based on the research experiences of Microsoft users, allowing them to tell developers, “Here’s what with what. most people feel comfortable, and that’s where you start to feel uncomfortable. . “

Making it easier to get new design features is expected to accelerate the adoption of WinUI 3, providing developers with controls that support Fluent and adding support for Windows 11 rounded geometry. Windows 11 rounded corners do not. are not only intended for windows, the same rounding is used in the controls, as well as new variable-width fonts including a new version of the familiar Segoe UI icon font, Segoe UI Variable. All you need is to use WinUI 2.6 or later to take advantage of the new Fluent elements, upgrading to later versions as part of a migration to the Windows Application SDK.

Building Better Code: Developers

It’s not just the desktop that’s getting a redesign with Windows 11. It also introduces new technologies like direct storage to quickly move data from storage to GPUs. Intended to help game developers, it holds promise for other technologies that use Direct X to work with GPUs, such as providing training data to machine learning systems that use Direct Compute APIs to work with GPUs. neural networks hosted by GPUs.

SEE: Windows Insider says your PC won’t receive future versions. After that ? (TechRepublic)

Perhaps the most important aspect of the launch of Windows 11 for developers is that Microsoft is reaffirming Windows’ place at the heart of an ecosystem. Gallo referred to Windows as an “open platform on which developers can grow their businesses.” That’s quite the original promise of the Windows platform, one where it was possible to build a billion dollar business in addition to its APIs and tools.

These APIs are the key to the promise of the developers of Windows 11, as Gallo said: “In Windows, because we are open and you have access to all these APIs, you can do things that you cannot do. nowhere else. The final part of the puzzle is an open, agnostic store, which supports all development models, plus new ways to build better apps to give this platform the solid foundation it needs.

Gallo went further by making a promise, for the developers and for their future: “When they bet with Windows, they can trust us, they can trust that we are not going to pull them off the carpet and eat them or whatever. thing like that. They can go and build a business knowing it has a long-term track record beyond Windows. “

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