At its Build 2016 developer conference, Microsoft unveiled the Desktop App Converter, which lets developers bring existing Windows applications to the Windows Universal Platform (UWP). The goal is to get as many of the 16 million existing Win32/.Net applications to the Windows Store as possible. The company started taking Windows Store submissions for apps and games converted using the Desktop App Converter in August. Now the first ones are finally available.
Microsoft didn’t provide a full list of apps and games, but it did share a list of titles that will show up in the Windows Store “within the next few days”: Evernote, Arduino IDE, Double Twist, PhotoScape, MAGIX Movie Edit Pro, Virtual Robotics Kit, Relab, SQL Pro, Voya Media, Predicted Desire, and korAccount. The apps and games should be available via search as all other apps and games, but they will also be directly accessible in the following collection: Desktop Bridge apps.
UWP allows developers to build a single app that works on Windows 10 computers, Windows 10 tablets, Windows 10 Mobile smartphones, Xbox One consoles, and eventually HoloLens headsets. Being able to publish the resulting app or game in the Windows Store means another channel for distribution and sale, clean installation and uninstallation, APIs for adding Windows 10-specific functionality, and automatic updates.
Microsoft today made the Desktop App Converter itself available for download directly from the Windows Store. Just like all other entries in the Windows Store, that means automatic updates with new features, improvements, and bug fixes.
Last but not least, three of the most popular Windows installer technologies (Flexera Software’s InstallShield, FireGiant’s WiX, and Caphyon’s Advanced Installer) now support building Win32 apps for the Windows Store. If you’re a developer who relies on any of these installers, you can now use the latest version of any one to build an app package for the Windows Store as well as your usual installers.
We’ll be watching closely to see how many Win32 apps and games end up in the Windows Store. That’s assuming Microsoft decides to start sharing numbers again.