One of the most attractive features of the upcoming Windows 10 operating system is that it will use so-called Universal Apps. These apps will run on any hardware platform powered by Windows 10, from consoles and tablets to smartphones or even the HoloLens. But sometimes I feel that these new kinds of apps don’t get the attention they deserve – as they are a bigger deal than they sound. Let’s just take a look at them and see how important they really are.
A Universal App (or maybe we should call it a Universal Windows 10 app, as there is no word about backward compatibility) will be a piece of software that will run on any hardware powered by Windows 10 – that’s already been said. This means that with a relatively small amount of extra work – especially about creating new user interfaces for the different hardware platforms – developers will be able to deploy their software products on any of them, no matter if they are productivity tools, online casino software or even a new voice or video chat client. Today most mobile developers focus on iOS first, or Android – depending on their regional interest – with Windows Phone coming third or not coming at all. With the new Universal Apps, the software will be released not just for Windows 10 for Phones, but all other variants of the software at the same time, allowing it to reach users of all hardware platforms from Xbox One to Raspberry Pi. Considering that Facebook still owes us a decent desktop client for Windows 7, the most widespread Microsoft operating system today, this is really a big deal.
The other great improvement Universal Apps can bring to the way we work with them is tied to another new technology Microsoft plans to introduce: Continuum. This new technology will allow users to instantly convert their smartphones and tablet computers into fully fledged desktop computers – the device will adapt to the bigger screen, and so will the Universal Apps installed on them. With today’s powerful smartphones this can mean a lot – users will be able to instantly turn their Windows 10 powered portables into video editors, full blown Office PCs or even media players, to name just a few. The apps will have a different user interface for mobile and desktop use, and they will be able to automatically adapt to the way the user wants to work with them.
The Universal App will help Microsoft not just to hugely increase the number of applications available for its mobile platform (with virtually any app being deployed on desktop and mobile at the same time), but also attract more potential customers towards its software ecosystem, especially on the portables front, where it lags behind its major competitors. How well this new system will work? Well, the previews are promising – and we only have a few weeks to see the final results for ourselves.