Progressive Web Apps (PWA) may be the great equalizer for Microsoft, Google and Apple

The current app model is robust and thriving but has shortcomings.

Millions of available apps make discoverability difficult, developers find building and maintaining apps for different ecosystems a challenge, and app development can be expensive. In an increasingly connected world, PWAs may solve these problems. They're universal, easy to build and maintain, cost-effective and searchable. Critics contend that Microsoft, Google, and Apple would never adopt a single app platform that challenges the established model. But those critics are wrong.

Google's web app progress

Google references its collaboration with Microsoft on PWAs.

Google's PWA journey began with running browser apps in Chrome on Android. This was resource intensive, however, and presented UI and other issues. Service workers, or scripts that the browser runs in the background and enable features that don't need a webpage or user interaction, were introduced to mitigate these resource issues.

Service workers use JavaScript to handle resource loading for web pages without network access. Simply put, because of service workers, PWAs are websites that continue to live on the web while an app shell and configuration file are downloaded to a user's device, which enables the native app experience. PWAs combine the best of the web with the engagement and experience of apps such as notifications and background syncing.

In fact, PWA and native apps, like Google's native Weather and PWA apps, are virtually identical. PWAs also allow app icons, full-screen display without the address bar, are installable, and have fast on and offline functionality.

Android treats PWAs like native apps.

Google's ensuring that Android treats PWAs like native apps. Google's also transitioning its Sports, Traffic, and others web properties to PWA. If this sounds familiar, it should. Microsoft's "Westminster" app bridge converts web apps to UWP apps, which have native app functionality and are distributed through the Microsoft Store.

Still, Google's solution intrigued Microsoft and in a move that might surprise loyalists, Microsoft reached out to Google and the two have been working together on PWAs ever since.

Microsoft progresses with PWAs

Microsoft's Jeffrey Burtoft, principal program manager for partner app experiences, said, "We met with Google about a year and a half ago, to see if these two things [Westminster apps and PWAs] were really the same thing ... we decided that we would move forward together, and provide a single way for web developers to build apps that run on all platforms."

Windows 10 will treat PWAs like native UWP apps.

Microsoft subsequently merged its Westminster app bridge with Google's PWA solution. The two companies are following the same standards for PWAs where common functions for their distinct platforms overlap. Where platform-specific functionality is concerned, like Live Tiles, the solutions are applied accordingly.

Like Android Windows, (not just Edge), will treat PWAs as it does native apps beginning with Redstone 4 this April. Service workers were introduced in an earlier build. PWAs in Windows will be capable of UWP features like Cortana integration, notifications, Live Tiles and more. They'll be distributed through the Microsoft Store and as on Android, will be indistinguishable from natives apps.

Is Apple onboard?

Critics have asserted Apple would never embrace PWAs. According to Apple's Web Technologies Evangelist, Johnathan Davis, however, it already has:

See more

And an excerpt from the Webkit's release notes reads:

Offline applications are important to the web. After HTML5 first tried to accommodate them with the Offline Application Cache, the Service Workers specification was created as a successor ... we're excited to enable Service Workers by default in this release.

Though Apple's adopting PWAs, it may not join Google and Microsoft's collaboration on common standards. Still, since these companies and Mozilla are embracing this platform-agnostic app development approach, developers can build for multiple ecosystems with ease.

I've predicted PWAs will become more mainstream this year as these corporations begin pushing them. Microsoft Build, Google I/O and Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), I anticipate, will reveal each company's plans for PWAs.

PWAs, indexing and search

Native apps require entities to add deep links from their apps to their websites. Indexing or deep-link failures can occur when changes to the app or website are made, however.

PWAs, because of their hybrid app-web nature, are already indexed on the web, and are self-contained apps. This eliminates the challenges of maintaining deep link consistency between apps and websites. Additionally, the Microsoft Store will search the web for PWAs and users can download them like native apps.

PWAs capabilities match the device they're on. A PWA on the desktop may be more feature-rich than on mobile. Admittedly, not all apps transition well to PWAs, but most will. The progressive adoption of PWAs will, therefore, coexist to some extent, with current apps.

A connected computing future

Since Windows 10 will treat PWAs as native apps, Microsoft's rumored folding mobile device category (and all Windows devices), which will run Windows Core OS, will benefit from PWA adoption. Folded, unfolded or connected to an external display, CShell will adapt this device UI to the user's context and PWAs will adapt as well.

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Jason Ward

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

  • I gotta give it to you. You're the most ecstatic and optimistic Windows fan I've ever seen.
  • Hi, 1jaxstate1 it's not just necessarily optimism. It's objective observation of industry and technological trends, and particularly in the case of PWAs, an observation of an industry acceptance, by multiple corporations, of a common app platform that would benefit each company's ecosystem in specific ways. Here we look at the collaboration between Google and Microsoft on common standards for PWAs. And Apple's and Mozilla's embrace of PWAs. We then, since this is a Microsoft focused site, look at how this industry-wide shift could benefit Microsoft. The same could be done on Apple or Android focused sites to highlight how PWAs specifically benefit those ecosystems. You can actually get a taste of how they specifically benefit Google from the embedded videos. So again, its not mere optimism, it's objective analysis of what's happening in the industry.😉 Thanks for reading!
  • Hi Jason, a great read as always. PWAs feel like they'll be the death of Windows. Why develop specifically for Windows when the same app will run on Android or iOS or Chrome or macOS? Why use Windows when you can use the exact same software on macOS without all the privacy stealing implications of Windows 10, or use it on your iOS/Android mobile device? I think there's enough evidence that Windows Phone did not fail only because it lacked applications so bringing PWAs to Windows/UWP isn't going to fix that problem. PWAs are still going to be designed for iOS and Android, the primary touch screen markets. On UWP/Microsoft Store these apps will be less than satisfactory since they'll be designed for mobile devices and run on a desktop paradigm. Look at the lacklustre up-take of UWP applications. It's not because they're far and few between! It's because they're poorly designed and unsatisfying UNLESS you use them in a touch screen-only mode (which defeats the purpose of a desktop OS). Microsoft lost the mobile devices war. Now they're showing signs of major weakness on the desktop with their half-baked UWP strategy (granted, it could be that macOS is experiencing the same weakness but Apple, thus far, has had the wisdom not to go down the touch rabbit hole on desktops).
  • Why do  people say Microsoft lost the mobile wars they did not.. I view Tablets, 2 in 1 devices and laptops as mobile devices  folks Microsoft's device in these catagories are selling well. I am not a smart phone fan because their screens are to small to me.  I rarely use an app on my smart phone but instead use it to send and recieve voice calls and surf the web for info when i am not near a laptop or desktop Computer.I would prefer to carry a 7 to 8 inch tablet with a built in cell phone. these device have more screen realistate than a smart phone has. Mark my word people are going to have eyesight problems working on tiny smart phone screens.
  • Mobile is a broad category, yes.  BUT, you absolutely cannot exclude each of the form factors within the category.  You can't convince me that some sort of folding device will do anything other than suck equally at being a phone and at being a tablet.  It fills some weird niche that's mostly novelty.  The two tablet sizes that I see overwhelmingly are the 10 and 12 inch size.  Because that form, that size is best suited for how tablets are used.  Smartphone have pretty much capped out at the 6 inch-ish size, because that form, that size is best suited for how smartphones are used.  I get it, you'd prefer to carry a 7-8 inch tablet phone.  I see zero 7-8 inch tablets being carried, and I really doubt the market will be amazing for ones with a telephony.  Plus, I remain VERY skeptical that the current state of tech will provide for an acceptable durability, performance and user experience for these devices.  Will the tech ever get there?  I'm sure it will.  And at that point I'm betting the devices will have a pocketable form factor that's even more convenient (probably wearable) than smartphones are but be easily expandable to a USEFUL tablet-like size.  But not yet.
  • Yep you're right. There are already a number of 7-8" tablets with telephony already out there on Android especially but their sales are pretty abysmal. Surely if there was a market for this size and form then people would be flocking to those whilst they wait for the Andromeda device?
  • PWA is another app platform. Native app development eg. Win32 (yuck) and UWP are still viable Windows app platforms.
  • hmmm... I think this works better for Windows Phone becasue app don't have to be made specifically for the platform. I have a Windows device or am familiar with a Windows Device - now all apps are available to me...I no longer have to switch platforms.... Is that a legit argument?
  • Great read Jason and appreciate your big picture thinking. Can you write an article on the future of Cortana as well considering the recent partnership MS had and also the inclusion of it in Windows IoT core?
  • It's would be nu Dr, but Satya seems to always so something to screw things up, so I won't hold my breath.
  • Satya has done well for shareholders. But MS stock - then you get to vote!
  • It would be nice, but Satya seems to always do something to screw things up, so I won't hold my breath.
  • Unfortunately your objective observations were always not so objective and far from reality in the past, let's hope you get one right sooner rather than later.
  • Hi Paolo, my observations in the past said that Microsoft's Windows-on-mobile strategy would lead to the intentional death of Windows Mobile to be succeeded by full Windows on a non phone, telephony-enabled devices with an inking focus.
    Since those predictions:
    1. We've gotten details on Windows Core OS, a modular form of full Windows that, as I predicted, can work on any form factor.
    2. We've gotten info on CShell that, as I predicted, conforms the OS to a users context.
    3. We've gotten sourced info on Project Andromeda that, as I predicted, would be a non-phone mobile device with, as I predicted, telephony and an inking focus.
    4. Additional patents, have come to light, that with the previous information, corroborate the story of Microsoft's continued Windows-on-mobile efforts (despite widespread claims to the contrary)with a non-phone device that I of course, have long stated were a reality.
    5. WC now even has sources that put the release of this device that I predicted existed, that is a continuation of Microsoft 's Windows-on-mobile strategy, that I persisted was ongoing, as Fall of this year.
    Of course any Project can be canceled at anytime, but my 'predictions' or better yet simple analysis of observable information said that it exists and described what it is. And the more info that comes to light, the more consistent my analysis is revealed to be with what Microsoft is doing.
    So, Paolo, I know when long-term analysis such as mine, which lays thing out over the long-term and doesn't yield those results in the short-term, particularly for an audience geared toward a yearly device perception, seeing the steady manifestation of long-term analysis over time may not be natural. But, take another look at what I've been saying and what's developing, and your statement will likely be changed to, "lets hope you're right AGAIN", rather than "Let's hope you're right sooner, than later.😉
    Nobody, not even top analysts, get everything right, and few people get everything wrong, but a look at what I've been saying proves, that contray to your statement, I've been more right than wrong😉
    Here are a few good pieces to revisit:
    Optimism or observation
    "Should Windows phone fans be optimistic about Microsoft's mobile strategy?":
    "Seeing Microsoft's mobile strategy requires big picture perspective":
    "Will Windows phone fans finally get the device if thier dreams?"
  • "any project i predicted to be in development can be cancelled" Is the same as "i predicted a project that doesn't exist" This was me in the late 80's when i predicted the internet. Seriously though, Microsoft is not a recognised company in the eyes of a consumer.
    That is why Microsoft 2016 means MS Office or MS Works and Office can mean Windows.
    Consumer buy computer and expect it to have Microsoft...
    Microsoft is a product inside the screen, like paper in a printer. No one buys Microsoft consumer hardware or phones because they are confusing to the public.
    The public think they are cheap no-name brands with Microsoft inside.
  • Not really, 'Objective observation' is it. That cannot exist. Unless you left your body, and this realm...
  • @Aden Rossinni.
    Actually it's possible but it entails seeing things from a multiple perspectives, each person's opinions, past decisions, body language, vocal tones, facial both major and microexpressions, combined with empathy then taken as individual and as part of a collective. The next layer is understanding your own cognitive bias, beyond that understanding the cognitive dissonance and bias of others. In laymen terms, it's not possible without experience, empathy and an open mind that is willing to understand why things occur - not how, not who, not where, not when but why. If you really want to learn about it, you start with understanding yourself through factual analysis (MBTI. Socionics, Emmeagram etc) of past actions and behaviour to past scenarios. This is a good place to start - However the biggest caveat is that not to become enamoured or engrossed thus falling into a self medicated loop of knowing best. No one knows best, you just take life as it occurs as there is no control but the illusion of control.    
  • For a second get your head out of wherever it is. App gap and app maintenance is not just a problem for MS anymore. It is an industry wide problem. Google has it with chrome OS and apple, well apple has bigger problems with their desktop OS. At this point of time, Google maintains a clear lead in terms of apps compared to MS but still they are committed with MS on PWA, are they nuts? No. They know what is coming and they know it is very resource itnensive to maintain platform specific apps. Tech industry evolves very fast, android and iOS which look like in control of everything right now might not even exist 7-8 years down the line. MS, Google, Apple, Amazon, these companies don't just look a year ahead in their plans, they look much farther ahead in the curve and clearly platform is a bottleneck as of now in the evolution of technology.
  • "Tech industry evolves very fast, android and iOS which look like in control of everything right now might not even exist 7-8 years down the line. MS, Google, Apple, Amazon, these companies don't just look a year ahead in their plans, they look much farther ahead in the curve and clearly platform is a bottleneck as of now in the evolution of technology." Yes, Google, Apple and Microsoft are in it for the long haul. But, none of the OSes are going away. We haven't seen the demise of a successful, well established operating system in many, many decades unless it was replaced by its maker. iOS and Android are now well established and ensconced. If you're an iOS user you're unlikely to leave it for Android.
  • I don't know what you are talking about. Symbian at its peak in Q3 2003 was controlling 50% market share. Having a YoY growth of over 200%. In 2006 symbian had 75% smartphone marketshare. In 2012, symbian was at 4%. That's just how our industry works. 
  • No, I am. He's second.
  • Yes. I agree PWAs sound very interesting idea and eventually we all know we have to move in a direction that converges, so that we can focus on newer technologies and move beyond apps. But, I also have some concerns as a developer. As a C# developer, I am unsure at this point how my current skills will be utilized in the PWA world, same goes with Swift and Java developers. Looks like we'd have to do more reading but are companies like MS which have spent years and billions of dollars in building frameworks like .NET really going to go full on in this? I hope they do, and I hope they still maintain platform specific skills for all platforms. It will be interesting to see how it evolves. 
  • You'll probably have to learn HTML+CSS, etc
  • HTML, CSS, and Javascript may actually be the Achilles' Heel of PWAs. This tech has never fully proven that it's better, faster, cheaper to develop full featured native-like applications. Not to mention that native applications frankly just destroy web applications as far as features and user experience across different devices. PWA has a very big challenge ahead of it.
  • I don't think you need to worry. The second half of this equation that Jason keeps neglecting is WASM (WebAssembly).  WASM is a standardized binary format for the web.  It let's apps run at native speeds and it can be compiled from other popular languages, including C#, Swift, Java, C, C++, and Objective C.  It will be natively supported on all major platforms.
  • Yep. Things will become more clear this year. I am hoping to see very big push at I/O and Build. There is not a lotf clarity on this yet.
  • We still need C#, VB.Net, Java and other languages to write the business logic code and to develop micro services. The changes will be mostly on the presentation layer but MS will mostly abstract those components and present it to the developers through some objects controls like they did it with the Server Side Controls, AJAX controls, WPF...etc.
  • Sounds great, but until I see results my faith in MS is gone. Still SOOO pissed about Windows Phone/Mobile SMDH
  • Agreed. I used to be one of Microsoft and Windows Phone's strongest defenders but I don't see any point anymore. Why should I care more than Microsoft seems to? I got an Android phone and nice in with my life.
  • Get over it... It's not the end of the world.
    The PC isn't going anywhere, and PC'S will get much smaller in 2018..... They may even feature phones, and messaging, as options.
  • The awnser is no.
  • Responding to yourself now?
  • What Windows Phone have you owned?
  • Windows PCs require at least a 10" screen. Even 10" is really too small. They certainly can't get smaller and retain productivity.
  • UNLESS the scalability of full Windows is able to behave more like W10M does.  You'd find it hard to convince people W10M is too small---because that's essentially how all the smartphones look.  Continuum was the right idea, but, like so many other Microsoft efforts, it was half-baked and not enthusiastically supported to become fully developed.  They would also have to make sure that all apps could scale the same way.  For example, Excel on W10M is clearly a different animal than the one on my SP.  There would have to be ONE Excel that could scale based on the form of the device (even if that form is able to change, whether because of unfolding or 'expansion').
  • I keep saying i don't want to use desktop apps on a small screen and I'm not quite sure what apps people are looking forward to running on such a small presentation. If you've ever had a program display strangely across resolutions with tiny buttons, you would know not even a mouse makes it enjoyable. If they can make apps that truly conform and scale to the form-factor and screen then we are going in the right direction, but there is nothing currently on a desktop which is easily used without a peripheral that i want in my pocket.
  • Still don't get it.
  • Exactly... I don't understand why this troll has such a hard time getting this through his thick skull.
  • You must've not seen the awnser to your question. I post it before you ask because I already know what it was gonna be... And, I was right.
  • Huh? Not at all true.
  • Dare I say, Smarter as well...
  • Gotta take issue with two things in this article. As an Android, iOS, Windows and web developer, I definitely find web to be the most of a pain to work with, especially when it comes to things like offline support. I'd be interested in why you think development and maintenance are easier there than on native? Also, this has the same issue Windows Phone had: it needs developers. And the responses I've seen from fellow devs range from "I don't even see a real use for them outside of blogs, etc." to "I'm not at all interested" to "tried it, not interested". Having tried developing PWAs myself, I also find them hard to get excited about since it's such a pain to do things that are just *there* natively.
  • I suspect the further improvements/expansion of the Service Worker spec is what's going to make that more attractive.  The thing is, I will bet that businesses will tire of trying to pay for (internally or by contract) developers to build two or more versions of apps for their services (which are largely cloud-based these days) if they can simply maintain the backend and have a PWA that only has to be developed once for any conceivable device.  So, whether developers like it or not, they may find they lack customers paying for their services if they can only develop native apps for each platform.  It may be more challening now, but as popularity of PWA grows, I've no doubt the tools, etc., will explode.
  • Good point. It will be more cost effective to pay a developer to build one PWA that will run on all modern devices than paying a developer to develop an app for iOS, Android and Windows.
  • I wonder if Windows Central will continue writing the same basic fluffy editorials into 2019 after all these years ???
  • If they'd bring that functionality back to W10M that would be great...
  • W10M is dead. They aren't going to bother. It is time to move on.
  • Yes, W10M is dead.  I'm ready to move on to a pocket cellular W10 PC with a foldable screen.  You will see more and do more.  PWAs will be at your service.
  • You must be the most negative commentator in WC. Why do you waste your time by telling the same thing over and over again?
  • And, he says he's not trolling... Anyways, it doesn't matter. All we need is for MS to perfect Andromeda, and actually work with it like they care.. I think the later is what really worries fans. We know MS can make a great product, we just don't have faith they will remain passionate about it in the long run.
  • This is how it should have been from the get-go but at this point I don't get why Google or Apple would be on board with this. They have a duopoly. In fact, Android is now the mist used OS in the world. It's in their interest to maintain interest in their proprietary formats.
  • Google is pushing this, it is their baby. I don't think they care how you access the internet as long as you can see their ads.
  • I think we all know that's not exactly true.  Otherwise, they wouldn't have screwed Microsoft and, by extension, US, over so many of Google's apps/services on Windows phones.
  • its not exactly a google baby.  
  • Keep you friends close and your enemies closer. Because Microsoft has .Net Core, which already runs on all major OS platforms. All Microsoft needs to do is bring more APIs from UWP to those and other platforms.
  • This site has gotten messed up man. Now we are just making things up like PWA that is not even a thing. I think I am just about done.
  • Hi Arnildandiono, PWA isn't a thing?😃 Please watch the videos embedded in the article, and do a search for PWAs for Microsoft Build 2017 and also just a general search on the web.
    Google, Microsoft and Apple (even Mozilla), these Multibillion dollar corporations seem to think PWAs are a thing. They're talking about them at thier annual developer conferences and providing tutorials to teach developers how to build them.
    Perhaps you've never heard of Web Apps, but I assure you they are real. 😉
  • Did already, not a thing. Not replacing Native Apps any time soon. Not going to make a difference.
  • Ahhh so your contention is that PWAs won't replace native apps in the near future. That's a lot different than your initial statement that, "Now we are just making things up like PWA that is not even a thing."
    Now I'm not sure if you read the article but I agree that there won't be a wholesale replacement of native apps by PWAs in the immediate future. What I do acknowledge is that we're at the beginning of PWA's and I explicitly state to watch Microsoft Build, Google I/O and Apple's WWDC this year as I anticipate these annual conferences will be used o express each companies direction and vision for PWAs.
    As such 2018 will see some growth in PWAs but the real impact wouldn't begin until 2019. I acknowledge in the piece that not until 2020 would I anticipate a meaningful representation of PWAs in the market.
    By the way, the trend toward that end has slowly begun as Google has begun moving some of its web properties to PWA as I mention in the piece. Additionally, Twitter and Trello have PWA apps and other companies are also making PWAs.
    Let's wait and see😉
  • Hate to break it to you, but it's already happening. App development is expensive and in the world of software it's a niche skill. Not only is web development a much more consistent approach, the developer support with this model would be exponentially bigger. 5G networks coming soon will only make the case for PWA's stronger. Accessing data over a 5G network will be faster than accessing data from memory.
  • arnoldandino.... You've gotta be one of the youngsters here who have not lived long enough to witness significant change in the way the world does things.
  • Significant change that Microsoft can never keep up with. Seriously, half of you posting here are still dreaming about MS coming up with a new product and taking over mobile.
  • You may not LIKE PWAs as a thing, but you absolutely can't say they aren't a thing.  I'm sure they will replace all but the most specific types of apps on all platforms--not just mobile--after all is said and done.  It just makes sense from their viewpoint.  More and more of what businesses supply to customers is cloud-centric.  If it's cloud-centric, then the web is the most obvious straightforward way to access it.  If you can get the native-app experience with a PWA without the costs and headaches of developing and maintaining native apps, why wouldn't you go with PWAs?  So, yes, it is a thing.
  • Odd, because today you are being very cooperative, and dare I say "positive"? Wow 😲
  • I like this article, it's optimistic and gave me a better insight on how this new app model will work. Granted, if it unfolds as written here, it's promising not only for a single platform but for all development. Of course this will benefit Microsoft a lot, but Google being one of the main originators of this, it will probably end up being the standard. I'm excited to see how this new generation of apps work on the next era of mobile of devices that Microsoft will bring with Andromeda, C-Shell, and Windows On ARM. Thrilling times ahead for an industry that was somewhat getting stale.
  • What is thrilling about it? For 99% of users there will be no difference. They don't care how the app was made. If it was stale before, it will be stale after. For the 1% running Windows phones it won't matter because Microsoft likely isn't going to update them to be compatible.
  • Thrilling: A new mobile usage paradigm brought by new device categories, and an app model that doesn't leave out MS.
  • If this holds true I see a lot of room for other players in the connected world arena (personal devices, mobile, tablets).  If this holds true it will I believe help give MS a big boost if they care about consumers if not I see others really capitalizing on this opportunity. 
  • I don't understand the level of vitriol in the comments, though it's (unfortunately) typical of the web these days.  If you don't like these kinds of about not reading them?  Jason, I'm glad you're here and writing about topics that are of interest to me as a Windows and WIndows Phone user, and I hope you continue.
  • Thanks Mark. I appreciate that. I intend on staying around for a while😉
  • My main concern with PWAs right now is their support for desktop environments and big screens. Twitter's PWA is designed for Mobile devices and is a big waste of space on a computer screen.
  • Isn't mobile where it's at?
  • From my understanding, this is where Andromeda will take over and make it compatible with any device filling in that dead space
  • No, the developers need to make the app scale. Andromeda is Windows Core OS, a modular version of Windows where devs can add the needed modules depending on the device.
  • That's just bad web design. Has nothing to do with pwas.
  • Microsoft will benefit from PWA directly because it wiuld help ease the app gap issue, both on desktop and on mobile. PWA works for the majority of use cases, but it is not efficient yet for cpu intensive tasks, like data manipulation and 3d rendering. Sure data manipulation could be done server side (using whatever server language you want), but 3d rendering can't. So videogames are still something native apps will keep for now.
  • Service workers can be written in a variety of languages so maybe a game engine can be written in it.
  • In other news, the web is platform agnostic. Sounds good to me. I always thought the app model was a step back in the move towards open tech. Thanks Apple!
  • rocketboy...  Certainly not defending Apple here, as I detest what they have become, but as I recall, Steve Jobs' original vision for the iPhone was for it to have a few basic native apps built in but mainly run web apps, hence the full version of Safari.  Apple was only responding to the market when they created the App Store.  Jobs was ahead of him time (by about 10-11 years) on web apps. Jason...  Great post!
  • Thanks sfbest23 for the support and the contributions to the discussion!🙂
  • No, Jobs failed to see the lock in value of having a propietary platform and it wasn't beneficial until iphones took off and provided an incentive to lock in customers.
  • Jason, although I've been critical over previous posts, this one is great! As a developer myself, I also agree that this is on the horizon. A much leaner and consistent approach to mobile development.
  • Thanks theemaddeness🙂
  • Jason, this is your first post where I have begun to combine what you've been saying (over and over again lol) into a comprehensive matrix where I can understand without just "taking it on faith" that Microsoft has a long term, and robust, plan. Including mobile (even if MS doesn't want to call those mobile devices "phones" lol).  And what with the intro of the Snapdragon 835 always-connected laptop products over the last several weeks, I'm actually coming 'round to the startling-to-me understanding that Satya Nadella's decision that phones per se were a dead end (I suspect not just for Microsoft) within the MS timeline forecast, may prove to be correct (and far sooner than I expected). It has really helped address my initial misgivings that my transition [back] to an Android phone (the Sony ZX1 compact in my case: always liked the small form factor of i5's and their brethren, and the ZX1c is brilliant) has been relatively painless (thanks mostly to Microsoft-on-'Droid). It helps to find I was wrong about "apps" too, lol: there really are some indispensable business centric productivity apps that just weren't available on W10M (and are easily found in Playstore). My remaining misgivings have been finally allayed. Kudos.
  • Thanks brdavis. I'm glad you shared that you are able to see the puzzle that I have been trying to assemble through these pieces. Thanks and I hope others will as well!🙂
    There are a lot of contributing factors to Microsoft's vision and it takes looking at all of them together to see the whole. Looking at just one piece leaves us with an incomplete vision that doesn't lead to the desired goal. And I think that's where some of the frustration from many lie.
    It takes a little work to move past the frustration that MS has caused many fans (I've been frustrated too, trust me🤯), to back away, take a breath and look at all of the moving parts and see where its leading. But it's possible. And I think we've been successful in painting that picture. I hope others come along (whether we like the direction or not) and at least take in the view😎 and see how it all fits.
  • Well I'm looking forward to PWA's! But I like the idea that websites can be easily turned into apps. Also a lot of the social networking apps like Facebook, Messenger and Instagram are way behind in terms of features that either the websites or other platforms have. It helps fill the gap where don't have an app. If they automatically update because they're on the web even better. Many apps in the store are just wrappers anyway.
  • To have Google and Microsoft working on the same kind of Apps is a good thing. I hope they continue this process. I still read comments from the crazy people who think desktop PC are dead!  They are not. For Games, video Entertainment,Document and Scientific, Business work you will not see Professiosinals with smart phones in their hands. They want larger screens to see their data. Folks many OLD Desktop PC are working well so Average People and Businesses keep using their OLD PC's rather than spend cash buying new ones. I see there will be incraese in sales of laptops and 2 in \ Tablet Laptop Hybrids. Microsoft is not dumb in exploring the creation of the Surface Mini Tablet  / Cell phone hybrid because there are enough people like me who want a mobile device that has a larger screen than a Cell phone has yet is not as big as a 10 inch Tablet.   Android foldable 2 screen or single foldable screen tablets will beat Microsoft's Surface foldable 2 screen device to the market place  but the Microsoft device seems to be a Mobile Mini PC that can run x86 /win32 PC programs, PWA's and Microsoft store Apps  on 6 inch to 6 foot Surface Hub type diagonal displays. There are people who want a PC that is mobile and can do this. if this device also has a Built in cell phone it will definately be very useful 
  • great... pwa is the UWP for app platform known as UAP
  • As a developer I am super super super excited about PWAs.  I'll be starting on a PWA within the next few weeks for my own product.
  • Microsoft must keep up working and speed up implementing with Google on PWA standards. Using Xamarin as analogy, the PWA is like the . NetStandard, Microsoft will provide additional hardware API to allow (cross platform) PWA developer to take advantage of CShell for greater User Experience Only in a WinOnARM foldable surface phone. This USPs is critical for greater than expected early adoption of this new category device.
  • Of course UWP will continue to improve, however I expect UWP to be used for more complex projects like games, MR, professional apps etc. PWA will be for more mainstream simple applications.  The future I think will be PWA, UWP and Win32 Centennial. 
  • UWP is many times leapfrog ahead of competitors. Only narrow box minded tunnel idiots who have not experienced write once but deployed to deskstop, IoT, W10M, are stucked behind with passimistic remarks. PWA is cardinal to Microsoft mobility customer engagement. A gift from common vision with Google. Still, if there are idiots in Microsoft who can not promote it enough internally and externally like a proficient sale person, it could still fail.
  • Microsoft really shucks at Marketing. We need another person to evangelize PWA on Edge for Microsoft. I get more depressed as the presentation continue, what a waste of talents and resources from such a promising company If u are real Windows diehards, keep pushing Microsoft for better marketing and effective communications
  • With 5G you can stream games effortlessly.
    This stuff isn't gonna happen overnight. What we're saying is that this stuff is gonna happen overnight. Catch my drift?
  • Right, it's a collusion of multiple factors 5G's rollout in 2019 will parallel the evolution of PWAs. Where PWAs work for some apps, our trend toward cloud and edge computing will meet a pinnacle with 5G which Qualcomms CEO Steve Mollenkopf describes as a whole new technology and not just incremental steps like 1G to 4G.
    5G will allow high-capacity, high-speed but very low-latency network for cloud and edge computing.
    This will be a very connected environment where cloud-based apps can flourish. So many demanding apps that don't translate well to PWAs may be cloud-based.
    So between cloud-based apps and PWAs, the future is looking more platform agnostic. And if you really look at Microsoft's efforts to make the cloud the super-OS for other platforms including iOS and Android, and its investments in edge computing and its partnership with Qualcomm with a shared vision to be the platform that the industry runs on, you can see this picture coming together. ----------------------
    If Microsoft is the platform for everything does it really need a phone Microsoft and Qualcomm the architects of an always connected future Project Rome makes the cloud the OS for everything What is Microsoft's intelligent edge what does it mean for mobile
  • In a way, you make the case for Windowsphone. If PWA is a universal app platform then Edge on Windowsphone is as good as any other. So as Microsoft admits defeat due to lack of apps and withdraws we discover that a Google inspired universal app platform would work on Windowsphone. Irony indeed.
  • Ok but are these really going to work offline? How are these different than the Spotify app on w10m, I thought that was a pwa it just doesn't work for me unless I have network connectivity (which makes the whole groove cancellation even worse).
  • yes, you are right, the web app load much much faster then the installed app, I wonder why.
    and I prefer to use webapp over the intall app, but currently the PWA still not as common as the regular app.
  • To be honest I don't see Apple or Google embracing a "collective" platform because both companies are the most monopolistic when it comes future profit avenues. Suchas Apple acqusition of renewable energy start ups and in the form of mental tax gymnastics they are both a supplier and a sole customer. As legally one company can provide utility services to another, that's what utility providers do. If Apple was not a monopolistic entity, then they'd have no qualms in giving local communities access to the innovative renewable energy start ups. But i'm not holding my breath. Google... where do you start, I wouldn't trust them with a infinite multiverse spanning barge pole with PWAs. As they can literally syphon every single data packet you transmit through PWAs being channeled through their servers and they are soooo monopolistic that they want your genome so they can sell you products before you know you want them or they have other very, very, very, very maligned and nefarious intentions.
  • Too bad this wont give notifcations for twitter, or facebook, or much of anything unless the page is open. That's why this isn't very good for a mobile platform. btw, the facebook PWA sucks so hard on mobile screens. 
  • PWAs in Windows 10 can work without a browser. Windows 10, the OS, with Redstone 4 will recognize/treat PWAs as native apps. Think the combination of Google's PWA solution with Microsoft's Westminster UWP web app conversion solution(as I point out in the piece). Web apps will be installable and will be treated like native UWP apps and will get notifications, Cortana integration, Live Tiles, easy install/uninstall just like native apps.
    I talk about much of that in the piece. I close with a reference to how Windows 10 Core OS, on Microsoft's new mobile device and (all Windows devices) whether folded, unfolded or connected to an external display will via CShell, adapt to a users context and PWAs, as context-sensitive apps will adapt as well.
    So on the contrary, this is why they ARE good for mobile (and everything else)😉
  • @Jason Ward, well explained.  
  • Thanks TechFreak😉
  • Wish people would actually read the content.
  • But for one thing this might work. Nadella kills anything MS might do that makes sense so, sorry, but I cannot see MS following through, long term, with this.
  • Get over it. Nadella is making smart decisions not fanboy, emotional ones. 
  • :))) yeah smart indeed. that CEO moron has no clue about anything but the cloud.
  • Can somebody explain to me what is new about this PWA stuff? I think Jobs came with this already 11(!) years ago...
  • One of the key factors where current tech makes them more plausible now is Service Workers, where as I explain in thr piece allows for a lot less resource intensive solution than previous attempts.
    From the text:
    "Service workers, or scripts that the browser runs in the background and enable features that don't need a webpage or user interaction, were introduced to mitigate these resource issues.
    Service workers use JavaScript to handle resource loading for web pages without network access. Simply put, because of service workers, PWAs are websites that continue to live on the web while an app shell and configuration file are downloaded to a user's device, which enables the native app experience. PWAs combine the best of the web with the engagement and experience of apps such as notifications and background syncing."
    Also from the text and an excerpt from Apple's webkit:
    "Offline applications are important to the web. After HTML5 first tried to accommodate them with the Offline Application Cache, the Service Workers specification was created as a successor ... we're excited to enable Service Workers by default in this release."
    Hope this helps.😉
  • Not familiar with the specifics of PWA or the other App/Program development specs, but maybe these "PWA-apps" would allow low enough resource requirements to allow for a Band 3 which wasn't firmware like the Band 1 and Band 2, with a Win 8.1 era Live Tile shell for the interface. Band 3 (from what i read) was supposed to be Win 10 IOT, with a LiveTile interface, but the Team had too many problems getting it developed successfully with those parameters inside Microsoft (I read this last year sometime) and they cancelled the product and broke up the Band team, and put Microsoft Health (renamed to Band App, and of course the Band 1, and Band 2 devices) on "Support Mode". Hopefully we might see a Band 3 if Win 10 IOT gets enough love. It would be neat if it was feature comparable to the Apple Watch. By that I mean, Cortana-enabled Band 3 could work like an Invoke Speaker, read you your Voicemail, dictate (aka Voice Type) SMS or Email messages, Play music from OneDrive or Spotify or Tidal, Do "Cortana Skills" like set Reminders and all that. OH, and run on ARM with a full telephony stack to make "Cortana handsfree phone calls" over LTE. I guess I didn't get enough for Christmas, LOL, I would like a gadget like this that also had quality sensors and would be able to function as a strap-on go-anywhere companion that would allow me to stay connected, track my fitness, and have enough battery life (minimum 7 days, preferably 22+ (as the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 that I currently enjoy allows per charge) with moderate use to engage with the world. Instead of me needing to bury my nose in a screen, I'd like to ditch the phone and get going, especially if it also had Bluetooth and GPS Navigation. Don't forget Bluetooth's latest standard for those "truly wireless" earbud+charging case type earbuds that you could toss in your pocket with your wallet when not in use. For more personal call and gym/fitness music or GPS Navigation experiences (I guess Navigation could use the Turn By Turn mode instead of Route like you would use on a smartphone/tablet.). Greedy or Practical, whichever, I would really like a Band like this, and it seems like PWA's might be light enough for Win 10 IOT to deliver this experience. 100% wishful thinking and supposition, but I felt like sharing.
  • It's fairly easy to predict Microsoft's foray into technology. If it's targetted at the Enterprise - it will get some legs and has a 50/50 chance of succeeding. Teams will be interesting to follow. For the consumer market, unless it's specifically targetted at Education, for Creators or gamers, it will be dropped after a year or so (watch Cortana get dropped this year). PWA is solution for Microsoft and won't benefit anyone elses landscape (iOS or Android) in any meaningful way. Basically - interesting but nobody cares.
  • "PWA is a solution for Microsoft and won't anyone else's landscape (iOS or Android) in any meaningful way. Basically - interesting but nobody cares." On the contrary. Google is driving PWAs, Microsoft literally jumped on thier bandwagon by reaching out to them and joining thier efforts at developing standards for PWAs. Please look at the embedded video from Google I/O. (And other videos from Google and others about PWAs.) I have it cued at the point where Microsoft's and Google's collaboration is referenced, but if you start it from thr beginning you'll see why Google, a multibillion company, is investing in them and believes that they will benefit its ecosystem in a meaningful way. In your vernacular, basically, Google, Microsoft and Apple all care.😉
  • But weren't apps dead 😉
  • Nope😉
  • I think the main challenge that PWA will face is to adapt to different screen size. Currently, the websites have a mobile view that works on smaller size displays but support lesser features and lack the aesthetic appeal.
  • Responsive websites have been around for a long time.
  • PWA’s will be good for publishers too. No longer are they forced to implement iOS design, material design and UWP design. Each PWA app will have their own unique look and feel and will work and look the same no matter what platform you use. You get a true app experience with the OS only doing the memory, storage and container functions, just like what a OS is supposed to do
  • Thank you Jason for a great article. I think PWA will grow in the future, but a part of me hopes it doesn't. I think there are better ways to achieve cross-platform development. For about a quarter of a century now, we have been incrementally adding capabilities of web sites/apps to be more like rich interactive applications. We took something that was initially just rendering static documents and turned it into full blown applications. All the while these incremental changes have occured, we have not changed the unlying development language environment. I feel we have taken JavaScript a bit too far for what it is meant for. JavaScript is not a type safe language and it is not a true object oriented language. JavaScript does not have modern language design features like Java, C#, and C++ for managing complexity in large code bases. And JavaScript is much slower than these other languages. Typically, JavaScript will be around 10 time slower than C++, and around 4 times slower than Java and C# (The Computer Language Benchmarks Game). This seems like a waste of CPU and battery resources, which are important resources for mobile applications. I would really like to see the development community look at Java and cross-platform libraries like Xamarin and Qt. Also, I think it would be wonderful if Microsoft, Apple, and Google would work together on a standarized operating system API. POSIX is a great example of this and should be embraced and evolved. I know that things like Java, cross-platform libraries, and POSIX have been used in the past to make cross-platform rich clients, and the effort can be challenging. But from a computer science perspective, these ways are better approaches than using a scripting language and running the application through the browser.
  • You do realize service workers can run in any language.
  • Then again, they may NOT be.  
  • If PWAs really take off it could make it easier for other Operating Systems to compete in the tablet/mobile market such as Linux. It won’t just be another platform that developers will have to create a native app for it will only require the OS developers to ensure they are PWA compatible.
  • Biggest question to me: will this work on current Microsoft Mobile (windows 10) devices?  I keep trying android and saying NO but as time goes on and no more microsoft apps (or real updates) taking place seems that I'll be forced to move.  If I could somehow keep going for another year or two safely would be worth waiting to see if they DO have a new windows phone of some flavor (still willing to upgrade from 1520 to a 950XL if could afford it)  
  • Switch now. There's no other option 
  • Great
  • I'll buy into this when google starts making pwas for the their major apps like youtube etc. Btw, where is that weather app mentioned in the article?
  • In the past few months many apps have led me to just link their site on my home screen. On a rooted phone they dont discriminate in the browser. When apps were starting gto become a thing I was anoyed that I had to load and update all this seperate crap. Heres to hoping it all goes back to the web.
  • Semua aplikasi tak berpungsi
  • Good article Jason. Very important review of tech giants deeds in this direction.   What I say may sound presumptuous, but it is the truth - my team of Mobsted have invented PWAs in 2014. Not the term, of course, but the purpose. 
    In 2014 we understood that native mobile development does not do good for a huge share of cases, especially for customer service. It was very difficult to get into a smartphone and the pain of supporting all the versions of every OS...well. So we created a term for a product we wanted to build - MFaaS - mobile front as a service. A service, which makes mobile apps in a way, well, in a way almost exactly matching what Google have called a PWA more than a year after. And of course, who are we to argue with Google?! We said - good, finally, there is a light in our tunnel. We no longer looked like idiots in talking to people about a great future of our "self invented" technical term :::)))   In 3 years our system went through 2 major re-factorings already, and as of now, we have about 5+ million MAU - end users, who log in to apps made and run on our system. We will soon open access to Mobsted PWA app maker to hundreds of people, who have pre-registered in the past 3-4 months. For now we only do large custom cases, as we decided to break even first and learn how to better onboard new customers. Anyway, again - good article. 
  • Nothing will ever be an equalizer between Microcrap and the other two platforms. Wher MS failes patheticaly, others succeed.Always!