Microsoft kills 'Project Catnip' PWA for Windows Insiders

Windows Insider App
Windows Insider App (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft killed plans for a Progressive Web App, dubbed "Project Catnip," for Windows Insiders today.
  • Project Catnip was to be a single hub for Insider to keep up with news, release notes, and more.
  • Microsoft is still exploring solutions for some features it was looking at with Project Catnip.

While today brought the arrival of Windows 10 preview build 19551 on the Fast ring, it also marked the death of a project Microsoft has been working on for some time. Microsoft is no longer working on Project Catnip, a Progressive Web App (PWA) for Windows Insiders, the company noted in its release notes for today's preview build.

Microsoft's reasoning comes down to technical limitations, though it notes that it's still exploring solutions for some of the features it was working on with Project Catnip. From the blog post:

We're no longer planning to do external testing or a public release of our "Project Catnip PWA" for the Windows Insider Program. Due to some technical limitations, we were not going to be able to offer the experiences we wanted to for Insiders through the PWA. We're still looking at solutions for some of the features we investigated in the PWA. Thank you as always for your enthusiasm.

Project Catnip was first teased in 2018 at Microsoft's Ignite conference, giving us an early look at what it had in store. The app would be a PWA, allowing it to be installed on all devices, from Windows to Android and iOS. The purpose of the app was to give Insiders a single place to access news about the Insider program, flight information, Insider profiles, and much more.

In early 2019, Microsoft officially announced the app as Project Catnip, revealing that its canary ring had filled up quickly and that it would "let you know when it's available for all" Windows Insiders. With its death, it doesn't appear all Insiders will get a chance to try the project out. Here's hoping Microsoft has something else up its sleeve for Insiders in the future, though.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • So much for PWA being the next big thing... *facepalm*... Microsoft really needs to get their act together in terms of windows ecosystem planning. Putting aside UWA to focus on PWA then dropping the latter because PWA never took off. Which it won't until it's able to replace complex applications and that ain't happening anytime soon.
  • @kojackjku I didn't say the PWA platform is bad, far from it... all I said Microsoft sidelined UWA development in the traditional sense to focus on PWA but... PWA didn't take off either and for good reason. PWA at present only makes sense for a small group of applications and that's mobile banking and e-commerce. It cannot replace complex applications and most people use Windows for example to run complex applications and most of everything else is done using the browser. The same applies on a mobile device such as ios on ipads which has the better selection complex applications for tablets compared to android and windows. PWA will not be replacing these any time soon as the network infrastructure is nowhere near capable of handling such constant flow bandwidth with zero latency and no packet loss. We are at best probably two decades away especially given how catastrophic mmwaves are on biological cells over prolonged periods of exposure. Given mmwave can hardly travel much distance and can be disrupted by a single leaf, you are looking equipment on trees, lamp posts, traffic lights etc broadcasting at highly significant power as the signal would need to penetrate cars, buildings, structures, people (take a look at Linus's videos on 5G where he shows on video the loss of signal just by blocking mmwave using his own body) and animals. I'm not talking out of my nose here - there are thousands of scientist who have signed against the effects of mmwave and a few ISPs are locked in a legal battle of equipment installation on lamp posts. Source: The reason why mmwaves are harmful over a period of time, there many principles that govern how everything interacts with another. Take light for example, it's not a simple point a to b concept but it takes many different pathways and each light photon has a finite of energy - which is why in a dark environment a torch can only push out photons to a certain distance. mmwaves work similiarly but (and to simplify they work like x rays) where some passes through your body and some of it is absorbed through a process call attenuation which in turn has various other principles such as compton scattering and so forth. During this exchange of energy some electrons are flung out of orbit from thus changing the characteristic of that atom. Now imagine that happening to a blood cell which is made up of many, many atoms. Over time these atoms will deform and perhaps become cancerous. This rate is increased by exposure time and energy of each process being absorbed and deflected etc. Now with mmwave, we are talking 24/7 exposure all year non stop. So yeah, PWA ain't replacing complex applications any time soon. People need to look at everything as a whole. Unfortunately most people look at things in a point A to B perspective not the hows and whys (how encompassed by why, where, when, who and what) of getting A to B matters, as the saying goes amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.
  • @kojackjku Microsoft disagrees with that after all they are moving away from legacy x64/x86 applications. Thus Store Apps will need to replace complex applications otherwise Microsoft has no hope in hell in getting ecosystem support for 10X as well as stripping the o/s clean of legacy code. Store Apps are not just for basic tasks they are whether people like it or not the next transitional phase for applications. They are only used for aforesaid tasks due to the lack of APIs or rather similiar APIs available to Win32 applications. Additionally, many of these win32 applications would have been developed and written by developers which will not be around anymore given how long win32 has been used. Also no one in their right mind only develops solely win32 application anymore... development is now multifaceted spanning different stores and o/ses. So yeah... in a nut shell apps are for doing complex things.
  • “The app would be a PWA, allowing it to be installed on all devices, from Windows to Android and iOS.” “Technical limitations” is just marketing speak for the fact that PWAs were all hype. Just like Java was 25 years ago. Until everything on the planet runs the exact same OS and exact same browser, “write once, run everywhere” will remain “write once, test and debug everywhere”. Which means lots more work than write twice, test twice. Which is what some of us have been saying for 3 years. “The purpose of the app was to give Insiders a single place to access news about the Insider program, flight information, Insider profiles, and much more.” Flight information? Huh? What does that have to do with the insider program?
  • Flights are just test releases. Any release to an Insider ring is a flight. It's not referring to passenger flights.
  • Ahhh, OK. That makes sense.
  • Another one bites the dust!
  • but but PWA is the future, is better than UWP /s just stop wasting time MS and tell your devs to work with UWPs