Universal Windows Platform

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Universal Windows Platform
A component of Microsoft Windows
Type Application programming interface
Included with Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows 10 IoT, Xbox One, Windows Mixed Reality
Replaces Windows Runtime
Support status
Related components
Windows Store, Windows API

Universal Windows Platform (UWP), is a platform-homogeneous application architecture created by Microsoft and first introduced in Windows 10. The purpose of this software platform is to help develop universal apps that run on both Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile without the need to be re-written for each. It supports Windows app development using C++, C#, VB.NET, or XAML. The API is implemented in C++, and supported in C++, VB.NET, C#, F# and JavaScript.[1] Designed as an extension to the Windows Runtime platform first introduced in Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8, UWP allows developers to create apps that will potentially run on multiple types of devices.[2]


UWP is a part of Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile. UWP apps do not run on earlier Windows versions.

Apps that are capable of implementing this platform are natively developed using Visual Studio 2015. Older Metro-style apps for Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1 or for both (universal 8.1) need modifications to migrate to UWP.[3][4]

During the 2015 Build keynote, Microsoft announced a collection of UWP "bridges" to allow Android and iOS apps to be ported to Windows 10 Mobile.[5] Windows Bridge for Android (codenamed "Astoria") would allow for Android apps written in Java or C++ to be ported to Windows 10 Mobile and published to Windows Store. Kevin Gallo, technical lead of Windows Developer Platform, explained that the layer contained some limitations: Google Mobile Services and certain core APIs are not available, and apps that have "deep integration into background tasks", such as messaging software, would not run well in this environment.[6][7] Windows Bridge for iOS (codenamed "Islandwood") is an open-source middleware toolkit that allows iOS apps developed in Objective-C to be ported to Windows 10 Mobile by using Visual Studio 2015 to convert the Xcode project into a Visual Studio project.[5][8][9] An early build of Windows Bridge for iOS was released as open-source software under the MIT license on 6 August 2015, while the Android version is in closed beta.[5]

In February 2016, Microsoft announced that it had acquired the San Francisco-based software company Xamarin.[10] Shortly after this acquisition, Microsoft announced that it was dropping its Android bridge project and its plans to support Android apps on Windows 10. Their focus would instead be based primarily on its iOS bridge.[11]


UWP is an extension of the Windows Runtime. Universal Windows apps that are created using the UWP no longer indicate having been written for a specific OS in their manifest build; instead, they target one or more device families, such as a PC, smartphone, tablet, or Xbox One, using Universal Windows Platform Bridges. These extensions allow the app to automatically utilize the capabilities that are available to the particular device it is currently running on.[12] A universal app may run on either a mobile phone or a tablet and provide suitable experiences between the two. A universal app running on a smartphone may start behaving the way it would if it were running on a PC when the phone is connected to a desktop computer or a suitable docking station.[13]


Games developed for UWP are subject to technical restrictions, including incompatibility with multi-video card setups, difficulties modding the game and using the game with programs such as Fraps, Steam overlays, or key binding managers.[14] During Build 2016, Microsoft Xbox division head Phil Spencer announced that the company was attempting to address issues which would improve the viability of UWP for PC games, stating that Microsoft was "committed to ensuring we meet or exceed the performance expectations of full-screen games as well as the additional features including support for overlays, modding, and more." It was announced that support for disabling v-sync, as well as the AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync technologies, would be added to Windows 10 in a future update[15] which was released on 10 May 2016.[16]

Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney criticized UWP for being a walled garden, as by default: He claimed that UWP software may only be installed via Windows Store, requiring changes to system settings to enable the installation of external software (a system that he compared to Android's similar behavior). Additionally, certain operating system features are exclusive to UWP and cannot be used in traditional software and the majority of PC video games. Sweeney characterized these moves as "the most aggressive move Microsoft has ever made" in attempting to transform PCs into a closed platform, and felt that these moves were meant to put third-party storefronts such as Steam at a disadvantage as Microsoft is "curtailing users' freedom to install full-featured PC software and subverting the rights of developers and publishers to maintain a direct relationship with their customers". As such, Sweeney argued that end-users should be able to download UWP software and install it in the same means as desktop software.[17]

Windows VP Kevin Gallo addressed Sweeney's concerns clarifying it’s "in the Windows 10 November Update, we enabled people to easily side-load apps by default, with no UX required. We want to make Windows the best development platform regardless of technologies used, and offer tools to help developers with existing code bases of HTML/JavaScript, .NET and Win32, C++ and Objective-C bring their code to Windows, and integrate UWP capabilities. With Xamarin, UWP developers can not only reach all Windows 10 devices, but they can now use a large percentage of their C# code to deliver a fully native mobile app experiences for iOS and Android. We also posted a blog on our development tools recently."[18] Windows Store support for traditional apps has also been implemented through Desktop App Converter codenamed "Centennial", addressing another of Sweeney's concerns.[19]

In a live interview with Giant Bomb during its E3 2016 coverage, Spencer defended the mixed reception of its UWP-exclusive releases, stating that "they all haven't gone swimmingly. Some of them have gone well", and that "there's still definitely concern that UWP and our store are somehow linked in a way that is nefarious. It's not." He also discussed Microsoft's relationships with third-party developers and distributors such as Steam, considering the service to be "a critical part of gaming's success on Windows" and stating that Microsoft planned to continue releasing games through the platform as well as its own, but that "There's going to be areas where we cooperate and there's going to be areas where we compete. The end result is better for gamers." Spencer also stated that he was a friend of Sweeney and had been in frequent contact with him.[20][21]


  1. ^ "What's a Universal Windows app?". MSDN. Microsoft. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Introduction to Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps for designers". MSDN. Microsoft. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Migrate apps to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP)". MSDN. Microsoft. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  4. ^ "Move from Windows Runtime 8.x to UWP". Windows Developer Center. Microsoft. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c Hachman, Mark (August 6, 2015). "Microsoft releases iOS-to-Windows app maker Windows Bridge to open source". PC World. IDG. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  6. ^ Branscombe, Mary (May 11, 2015). "How will Android support work in Windows 10 for Phones?". TechRadar. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  7. ^ Bright, Peter (April 29, 2015). "Microsoft brings Android, iOS apps to Windows 10". Ars Technica. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  8. ^ Chester, Brandon (April 29, 2015). "Microsoft Demonstrates Android and iOS Applications Running On Windows 10". Anandtech. Purch Inc. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  9. ^ Protalinski, Emil (May 1, 2015). "Everything you need to know about porting Android and iOS apps to Windows 10". VentureBeat. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  10. ^ Jo Foley, Mary (February 24, 2016). "Microsoft is buying mobile tool vendor Xamarin". ZDNet. Retrieved February 26, 2016. 
  11. ^ Jo Foley, Mary (February 25, 2016). "Microsoft: Our Android Windows 10 bridge is dead, but iOS, Win32 ones moving ahead". ZDNet. Retrieved February 26, 2016. 
  12. ^ Domingo, Michael (May 1, 2015). "Inside the Universal Windows Platform Bridges". Visual Studio Magazine. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Guide to Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps". Windows Developers Center. Microsoft. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Microsoft needs to stop forcing console-like restrictions on Windows Store PC games". Ars Technica. Conde Nast. Retrieved 30 March 2016. 
  15. ^ "Xbox Boss on PC Gaming: "We've Heard the Feedback Loud and Clear"". GameSpot. Retrieved 30 March 2016. 
  16. ^ Thurrott, Paul (10 May 2016). "Microsoft Makes Major Improvements to UWP Games on Windows 10". Thurrott.com. Self-published. 
  17. ^ "Epic CEO: "Universal Windows Platform can, should, must, and will die"". Ars Technica. Conde Nast. Retrieved 30 March 2016. 
  18. ^ Takahashi, Dean (4 March 2016). "Epic's Tim Sweeney questions Microsoft's commitment to an open Windows platform". VentureBeat. 
  19. ^ Bright, Peter (14 September 2016). "Desktop apps make their way into the Windows Store". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. 
  20. ^ Bright, Peter (16 June 2016). "Microsoft will use Steam to sell Windows games, not just its own store". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. 
  21. ^ Makuch, Eddie (15 June 2016). "Xbox Boss Confirms More Steam Releases Coming, Discusses PC Struggles". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. 

External links

  • Guide to Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps
  • UWPCommunityToolkit on GitHub
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