Microsoft released version 1.1 of the Windows App SDK, a set of developer tools that (unsurprisingly) let you build apps for Windows 10 and 11. The initial release of the Windows App SDK arrived shortly after launch of Windows 11, and it’s a way to bring together modern visuals and features along with traditional Win32 functionality in the same application. This new version comes with some notable improvements to make the experience even better.
Mica is a new surface material introduced by Microsoft with Windows 11, and it allows your desktop background to shine softly through the application, adding some color to the user interface. While the initial version of the Windows App SDK came after the release of Windows 11, you couldn’t build apps that used the new Mica material this way. Along with this, the Windows App SDK WinUI 3 Gallery contains new samples, controls, and an updated interface to better align with Windows 11 design principles.
Another major improvement is the ability to create applications that require elevation (meaning they must be run as administrator), which was a limitation of the original release. Additionally, applications packaged in MSIX format, lightly packaged applications, and unpackaged applications can now send Windows toast notifications, including when the application is not running. This means apps have a way to alert users even when the app is not in use.
Microsoft has also improved the performance of applications that use C# through updates to the WinRT interoperability layer. Microsoft claims that a simple “Hello World” app can see up to 9% faster start times, and you should also see big improvements when using dependency properties in WinUI 3 apps.
On the developer side, it is now possible to configure an application to automatically restart when it closes due to an update or a crash. Additionally, you can set recovery options so that the app can take users back to where they were before the app quit unexpectedly.
Other changes include improved bootstrap APIs, support for standalone apps (i.e. apps that contain the Windows App SDK dependencies required to use them), and the ability to modify environment variables without having to use the registry API directly. Microsoft has also introduced a new windowing API that allows you to set the z-order of windows in your application. Finally, Microsoft announced that Template Studio for WinUI (C#) is now available in Visual Studio Marketplace. This extension makes it easy to build a WinUI app using a wizard-based experience, producing “well-formed, readable code”, and it’s a great way to get started with WinUI development.
To install the Windows App SDK tools for development, you must use Visual Studio 2022 or 2019, and follow the instructions on this page depending on the type of application you want to create. You should automatically be able to get the latest version of the tools this way. You can also find the full release notes here.