Microsoft's UWP targets a very small percentage of Windows PCs
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October 14, 2015
Earlier this year, Microsoft introduced its Universal Windows Platform (UWP) applications
that run across many device types, provided that they all run its Windows 10 operating system.
But unfortunately, this simply means that the UWP is far from universal, targeting just a few of
Windows PCs out there, and leaving other operating systems non-portable (so to speak).
In a world where Macs, OS X and Apple's iOS are commonplace, UWP apps are more niche than
As hard as it is, and even if Microsoft succeeds in migrating most users to Windows 10 over the
next few years, that might improve matters, but only on the PC, nevertheless.
Now system integrators and developers are petitioning Microsoft for a true universal app
model. Can you blame them?
“The goal is to just enable one single .NET Client Application Project to build deliverables for
the following platforms,” states the request on the Visual Studio 2015 feedback site, and goes on to
list Windows 10, Legacy Windows, Unix, Linux, Android, iOS, Mac and HTML5.
The issue Visual Studio developers face is that they want to continue coding in .NET languages
like C#, and to use the powerful XAML language to build a user interface, but their customers still
demand support for platforms other than Windows, especially iOS, Android and Mac OS X.
Microsoft is already making some effort to promote cross-platform development, as long as it is not
Visual Studio 2015 comes with cross-platform technologies to the point of confusion, including third-party
native applications, and Visual C++ compilers for Android and iOS.
The Xamarin tools come closest to what developers are demanding. Xamarin targets iOS, Android and
Mac, and Xamarin Forms is an implementation of XAML that enables a cross-platform user interface.
But there are several problems with that. This is a third-party implementation of .NET, based on
the open source Mono framework, and therefore not perfectly aligned with Microsoft’s .NET Framework.
It is also very expensive, with businesses paying at least $999 per developer per platform for a one-year
Additionally, the XAML in Xamarin Forms is not compatible with any of Microsoft’s existing
implementations, and does not target desktop Windows or Mac, only iOS, Android or Windows Store
Another existing piece which has cross-platform promise is .NET Core, a fork of the .NET Framework
which runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
Currently, .NET Core only targets server-side applications using ASP.NET, or the UWP, but in principle
it could be extended to client applications.
That said, with Visual Studio 2015 pointing developers firmly in Xamarin’s direction for cross-platform
clients, it's difficult to see Microsoft investing in its own alternative.
And of course, extending .NET to HTML5 clients may seem like a stretch, yet there is already a
Userware project called CSHTML5 in preview which claims to implement about 99 percent of C#, 70 percent
In conjunction with Apache Cordova, something like this can also work as a mobile solution.
To be sure, the C# language has been a huge success for Microsoft, and is now one of its key assets
in attracting or keeping developers coding for its platform.
But on its very own, C# cannot thrive forever as a Windows-only technology though, and these cross-platform
options are now critical to its future. We'll keep you posted on these and other IT news as they happen.
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