February 25, 2016 12:00 pm

An Update on the Developer Opportunity and Windows 10

By / Corporate Vice President of Windows Developer

At Build last year, we unveiled our Bridges strategy and our commitment to provide developers with tools to accelerate bringing their apps to Windows 10 devices. Our goal is to make it easy for developers of all sizes to bring existing code to the one billion devices we expect to see running Windows 10 in the next few years. The tools we announced were designed to help developers with existing code bases of HTML/JavaScript, .NET and Win32, Java/C+ + and Objective-C bring their code to Windows, and provide a way to integrate with Universal Windows Platform capabilities.

Enabling developers to bring and re-use some of their existing code to Windows 10 is part of our longer-term vision for developers, where we want to make Windows the best development platform regardless of technologies used. Yesterday, we reached another milestone on this journey via our agreement to acquire Xamarin. UWP developers can not only reach all Windows 10 devices, but with Xamarin, they can now use a large percentage of their C# code to deliver a fully native mobile app experience for iOS and Android. Xamarin’s approach enables developers to take advantage of the productivity and power of .NET to develop mobile apps, and to use C# to write to the full set of native APIs and mobile capabilities provided by each platform.

We’re excited to have Xamarin join Microsoft and the opportunities it will offer developers – making it easy to share common app code across Windows, iOS, and Android apps while still delivering fully-native experiences for each of the platforms.

Progress on the bridges

In addition to welcoming Xamarin, we also wanted to provide an update on the Windows 10 Bridges:

  • The Web Bridge (Hosted Web Apps) helps bring HTML and JavaScript web-based apps to the Windows Store and takes advantage of the rich capabilities of the Windows platform, such as Live Tiles, Cortana integration, in-app purchase capabilities and more. This shipped as part of the standard Windows 10 SDK in July and we’ve already seen adoption from companies such as Shazam and Yahoo.
  • Project “Centennial” helps bring existing Win32 and .NET-based apps to the Windows Store and is in testing with a set of developers now. We’ll have an early iteration of the tools soon, and then we’ll expand the program and support a broader range of developers.
  • The Windows Bridge for iOS (project “Islandwood”), enables developers to bring Objective-C iOS apps to the Windows Store, was released to GitHub as an open source project in August and we’ve been releasing updates to it frequently. Just last week, we released an update which included the first ARM32 preview compiler drop.

We also announced the Windows Bridge for Android (project “Astoria”) at Build last year, and some of you have asked about its status. We received a lot of feedback that having two Bridge technologies to bring code from mobile operating systems to Windows was unnecessary, and the choice between them could be confusing. We have carefully considered this feedback and decided that we would focus our efforts on the Windows Bridge for iOS and make it the single Bridge option for bringing mobile code to all Windows 10 devices, including Xbox and PCs. For those developers who spent time investigating the Android Bridge, we strongly encourage you to take a look at the iOS Bridge and Xamarin as great solutions.

The philosophy behind the Bridges has always been to make it as easy as possible for you to bring existing code to Windows, and our investments in the iOS Bridge will make this straightforward. We initially focused on API coverage for game developers, but we are expanding our API coverage for all app types by adding support for additional frameworks, etc. We’re aiming for significant development cost savings for the majority of ‘typical’ apps – keep an eye on the project on GitHub, and of course we welcome direct contributions, helping us all out!

At Build this year, we’ll go into more detail on the Bridges, Xamarin, our Universal Windows Platform and much more. Hope to see you there!


Join the conversation

  1. It is great to see your acquisition of Xamarin. That really changes everything from the bridges perspective. Now you have the opportunity to truly build two-way bridges (or now one-way bridge in the case of Droid 😀 ) between other platforms. This is a great move for MSFT and provides a lot of clarity in your position and market strategy. Looking forward to //build and Evolve even more now!

  2. Outside of the US many people rely on android apps more than iOS. There are many markets where android is the primary platform and you’re leaving those markets in the cold. How can you tell Android developers to consider looking at iOS? That is like asking a windows developer to consider making an OSX app instead and then hope it works. Android is the #1 mobile ecosystem in the world, it has even surpassed windows in popularity. You cannot ignore it.

    • Android developers are iOS developers. Most developers of consequence would be releasing on both platforms.

    • We’re carefully listening to feedback and really appreciate the different perspectives. The Astoria decision wasn’t easy, and we carefully evaluated it for months. We do want to help you bring your existing code to Windows 10, including your Android code, and we think Xamarin will offer interesting possibilities. We’ll have more to share at Build on our plans. Thank you for your feedback – we’ll continue to listen and work hard to deliver the tools you want.

  3. If developer oportunities is barring WP8 apps to appear the Windows 10 mobile store top rankings without any clue about why they’re being blocked .. hey! you’re doing a great job! 🙂

  4. Why do you guys feel the need to make up lies when you make a decision rather than just telling the truth? You cancelled the Android bridge because “developers were confused”? That’s the most absurd thing I’ve heard all week.

    The rumors are you cancelled it because of technical issues + liability issues with people making unauthorized ports. In other words, money. You cancelled it because you felt breaking a promise you made to developers was less costly than continuing development.

  5. We are incredibly excited with this announcement. And we hope the Windows 10 Ecosystem will continues to grow with the recent acquisitions of Xamarin and also other Windows Bridge projects like Islandwood, Centennial, and Westminster.

    We also hoping that some Microsoft Apps which available on other platforms like Android and iOS will available too on Windows with richer features and experiences.

  6. How exactly people said it will be better to keep iOS bridge? I understand that iOS usually have the apps first, but most iOS developers just don’t feel any love for windows.
    In the other hand, to develop for iOS you need a Mac, and with Android, you can do both in a Windows PC.

    So, whoever made this decision, can’t say that us, the developers asked for this.

    • The bridges had different implementations. We’re carefully listening to feedback and really appreciate the different perspectives. The Astoria decision wasn’t easy, and we carefully evaluated it for months. We do want to help you bring your existing code to Windows 10, including your Android code, and we think Xamarin will offer interesting possibilities. We’ll have more to share at Build on our plans. Thank you for your feedback – we’ll continue to listen and work hard to deliver the tools you want.

  7. One more thing, Android developers use Java, which is very close to C#, while iOS uses, mainly, objetive-C, an ugly ass language.
    If you think iOS developers are going to make a huge contribution to UWP, then you are thinking wrong.

  8. I think the real reason of cancel Astoria was because could install Android 5 on an Lumia 830 and also the Android core on the first editions of Windows 10 was causing degradation of usability in devices with 512 Mb ram which it’s the majority in the ecosystem being the king the Lumia 520 and also the problem that can go if people do their own ports , to android developers wouldn’t like and to Google neither, we have to remember the income of Google comes from apps store

    • Are you sure, I thought Google made by far most of it’s money in advertising. App store sales must still be tiny in comparison.

  9. This announcement about Project Astoria reminds me of the times when Microsoft confirmed that Windows Phone 7 will not be upgraded to Windows Phone 8 and that Windows RT will not be upgraded to Windows 10.

  10. This is great news. Android users need to understand that developers prefer iOS to Android even if Android has more users. The main reason is money, iOS makes up 75% of all mobile developer income. Other reasons include most developers prefer working with C++ over Java and because Android is too fragmented. What all this means is most apps/games that are available on both iOS and Android, are actually developed on iOS and ported to Android. This means not only will the iOS version get more updates but they’re also far more stable. Another thing to understand is if MS sticks to only iOS developers it means less chance for malware on the Windows platform. Android users might be upset, but if you want not only a ton of apps but also highest quality as well, iOS is by far a better choice than Android.

  11. I find it offensive that you consider us so easily confused that we can’t have two bridges. Why make up lies? You abandoned Android bridge because you have realised you are shipping GPL Linux kernel without posting the source code. iOS bridge is useless to Android developers by the way and you know it.

  12. It’s good to see you are having progress, just one thing you missed out, don’t forget that around 70% or more of people use android phones, thus when a small developer is making an app/game they will consider android as a first priority, even big companies like supercell make their apps first on android, I’m not saying going on with the islandwood project was a mistake, but having both options wouldn’t have hurt, after finishing project islandwood consider taking another shot at Astoria please, still I respect your decisions ☺

  13. While I understand that a company must prioritize where it spends its money, I am really sorry to see Project Astoria go. Especially as that was one of the few things left that would persuade me to get a Windows Mobile device (I love the interface, just miss that apps are updated regularly).
    If you are going to close down the Android Bridge, at least release it as open source. The people — especially developers — over at XDA would surely be thrilled by that.

  14. Kevin this is not an acceptable solution for those of us not targeting iOS at the moment.

    There are plenty of Android only shops that were looking forward to your Android bridge and now you tell us that we need to target iOS so that we can make use of Windows Phone?

  15. Ok, we get it. Astoria is dead because of some legal issue with Google.
    Since most us have already migrated on other platforms I can bet MS only chance is to give these toots for free in the hope that maybe one day, some of Android and iOS apps will ever be migrated to UWP.
    Also MS will better get his platform compatible with those popular tools that all devs are using already on other platforms, as is unlikely they will spend more time on rewriting apps to fit UWP.

  16. Does this possibly mean that Xamarin will become a free product like Visual Studio?

  17. Hi, Kevin Gallo.
    Could your team update Microsoft Java Language Conversion Assistant 2.0 to Windows 10?
    It will be very useful to bring Android (Java) app to Windows (C#) 10 Universal App.

    • Hi Tobias, I asked arond and we support the Web App Manifest already through ManifoldJS and soon directly in the Windows Store dev portal.

      With ManifoldJS you can use an existing site url that contains a manifest link to produce a cross platform app ready for Windows Store upload. In the future app publication through the Windows Store portal will support direct upload of a zip file containing the standard JSON manifest and image resources.

      We are currently prototyping Service Worker and will continue to invest in more ways to offer support for the web app manifest. Stay tuned!

      • Hi Clint. Thank you for your answer.

        This is not what i want and i think i speek for many Web-Developers.
        I dont want to download Visual Studio.
        I dont want to create a app package.
        I dont want to download the Windows10 SDK
        I dont want to upload a appx package.
        All i want is to submit a link to my hosted webapp and working with w3c-approved apis.
        This is the way Google and Mozilla goes and i think its the right way.

        Make sure not to miss the boat!

  18. Even as the biggest MS fanboy I have to say abandoning the Android bridge is not the best choice. Consider the third world and developing countries, they run on Android not iOS. iOS is for the rich and developed. Many markets will be Android first, or even Android only. Many niche apps will be Android only due to these smaller but higher growth markets. Plus, if Android apps get ported, I bet there are more will be ported than the iOS ones, just due the fact there are more of them. If the same percentage of apps will be ported using these two bridges, there will be way more ported Android apps, then we can brag how many apps are on our app store! I am deeply disappointed at this decision, even from a loyal fanboy that still carries a Lumia 920..

  19. Thank you for finally updating the developers,… but 🙂

    This is a real pain for the Android devs (full disclosure: this affects me and I’m miffed). A very high percentage of us have written our apps for android and, frankly, written our code once already. Yes porting to another platform is great for small apps, but for large apps you’ve basically tossed us (android devs that don’t do iOS) aside, meaning half the decent apps from indies aren’t going to get ported unless we do a re-write, which isn’t that likely for some of us.

    You could have done better to support Astoria and fettle it up for a production release. Any developer can can work with various caveats such as:

    * Needing to use this microsofts ‘X’ maps/bluetooth/etc/etc library instead of the googles o use it on windows phone. Devs are flexible if you make the tools available, we can to the rest of the work to make things work.

    Unfortunately the canning of Astoria has left a bad taste, and it’s not the first time this has happened. I’m quite disappointed with the direction you’ve taken as I was REALLY looking forward to porting my apps to Windows Phone (a fair few users were asking for it) and Astoria was going to let me do just that, even with a little rework it would have been absolutely fine (been there done that with Blackberry’s BB10 android stuff). It’s not difficult and would have simply been par for the course. But instead you’ve ditched the project and moved everyone off to other things.

    I really like the idea of Xamarin, however most of us have already written the code for a great many apps. It’s unlikely at the moment that quite a few of us (myself included) will spend the time rewriting in a different language/api just to bring it to your platform (and that truly is a shame as you’re missing an innovative section of the market)

  20. I would take this news as microsoft astoria being the same mistake google made. Using Java without licensing it from Sun Microsystems and Google being sued for it.

  21. I’ve been a Windows developer since Windows 3 and am dismayed by the direction MS has been taking recently.

    New technologies only being available to apps distributed through MS’s store (C++ and XAML support for example) strikes me as monopolistic and controlling. I refuse to develop for this platform until MS opens up the possibility for user’s to access third party trusted stores.

    If the Linux desktop was better, I’d have jumped ship as a developer already.

  22. I love win10 interface and his elegance on my 920. But many local apps and daily helper apps developed in android. So, it’s so sad hear the astoria died. my 920 kind a zombie now. Even old games plant vs zombie need to pay in windows store, the dev forgot that old time ago, they release it in windows mobile. Actually, i migrate from android to 920 before. maybe it’s the time for me to wake up

  23. last two weeks try to build for a “hello world” application.
    I could. I could not. I could. I could not. Continous exceptions and warnings…
    It was the most funny build error, “not implemented interface exception for constructor of class.”
    I’d like to know, someone tried and done this with Visual Studio 2015?


  25. I’m Brazilian, i talk portuguese….. Sempre fui um defensor do Windows Phone. Aguentei firme e forte a ausência de todos os app, mas o pokémon go foi a ultima gota. A culpa É SIM da Microsoft, que sabendo da expectativa de lançamento do pokémon já deveria ter corrido atrás dos desenvolvedores e até oferecido dinheiro para trazer o app para o sistema, mas mais uma vez a Microsoft DESRESPEITA seus usuários. Me arrependo até a alma de ter gasto 1200 reais NESSA PORCARIA DE 640XL que até em app mais simples tem bug de ficar fechando o app DO NADA ! Quando terminar de pagar essa merda vou comprar um Android, o problema que fui oferecer pra vender essa porcaria e quando as pessoas sabem que é Windows Phone não querem pagar nem 300 reais… LIXO