Microsoft Windows App SDK 1.1 has been released, with many important updates to the framework once known as “Project Meeting”.
The “meeting” is between the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), which evolved from work done for Windows 8, and the classic Win32 platform. UWP was never widely adopted by developers, but it consumed much of Microsoft’s effort to modernize Windows.
The Windows App SDK decouples modern Windows features and APIs from the UWP so developers can code apps with the look and feel of Windows 10 or 11 without adopting the UWP app model.
Related projects include Win UI 3, which is a collection of APIs and tools for building desktop applications for Windows 10 and 11, and MSIX, which is a packaging and deployment tool for installing and removing specific to applications.
Version 1.0 of the Windows App SDK was released in November last year, but with a number of limitations, including support for multiple windows on the same thread. This functionality was delivered in version 1.0.1 in March this year, but we now have 1.1 with new features, including a “visual refresh to showcase the design language of Windows 11”, according to a Publish by the team.
Other new features include the ability to run App SDK applications as an administrator, support for notifications, and windowing APIs that allow the z-order of windows to be programmatically controlled. In other words, developers can bring windows to the front or push them back.
There are also custom-drawn window titlebars, which are handy for touch users, or when developers want interactive content in the titlebar. A restart API allows developers to add code to recover and restart an application after a crash or hang. There is also support for stand-alone deployment, where Windows Application SDK dependencies are bundled with the application allowing xcopy to be deployed.
The release of version 1.1 is an important step towards the maturity of Microsoft’s current favorite SDK for desktop development.
Will it now appeal to developers?
There are a few obstacles. The first is that Windows App SDK requires at least Windows 10 1809. This version of Windows is less than four years old and limits potential users of App SDK applications.
Second, cross-platform apps are attracting a lot of interest, with Microsoft recommending both the recently released .NET MAUI (Multi-platform App UI) or React Native for Windows in its official notice. Either option greatly increases the potential market for an application.
Finally, the fact that tried and trusted frameworks such as .NET Windows Forms and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) still work and work well on Windows 10 and 11, means that many commercial developers are content to stick with these familiar frameworks and not don’t worry. about closely matching the appearance of Windows 11.