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Microsoft: There are nearly 1,000 converted UWP desktop apps in the Store

During a breakout session at the Microsoft Build conference today John Sheehan, Distinguished Engineer on the Windows team, discussed the status of Project Centennial a.k.a. the Desktop Bridge.

While more news and advancements of the Bridge are coming later today, Sheehan did report that Microsoft has been overwhelmed with interest. Currently, there are nearly 1,000 converted desktop apps in the Store according to Sheehan noting that developer response was "overwhelming."

Announced just over eight months ago, Project Centennial lets developers repackage "classic" Win32 desktop apps for the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). The conversion allows companies put their apps in the Windows Store, leverage in-app purchases, and ensure a better user experience.

The original Centennial team was reportedly tiny last year but is growing due to high demand and interest from developers.

Stay tuned later today for more information about what's new with the Desktop Bridge.

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

116 Comments
  • Are all apps in the Windows Store UWP?
  • I don't think so. And, there's more than 1,000 apps in the Windows Store, lol.
  • Technically, all apps in the Store are UWP by definition. If it's appx, it's UWP. Not all are native UWP, as some are converted to get there. Centennial apps are UWP because of appx installer, siloed registry, in-app purchases, live tiles, and notification calls to the OS.
  • I know that Centennial apps are not native, and as of now cannot be pushed to devices such as phones and Xbox.  They can be for PC/Tablets, and hololens though, correct?  And did I read somewhere that Microsoft is working on making it so the converted apps can be pushed to these currently unsupported devices?
  • Why would you want to run an oldie desktop app on a phone? That sounds horrible.
  • Think Windows Continyym.. :)  
  • Yes, continuum, but its not just a matter of plug in the phone and you can run anything. The app still has to be modified to the point that it can detect the modes - phone vs docked/desktop. This may be where the adaptive shell comes in, so the phone is basically a desktop PC with a special "start menu".
  • Well with a small change on UI you get a great deal of work done that's one of the best things on UWP, like spotify and kodi could do this after their covert through the project.
  • Not if the app takes advantage of both the desktop features and Mobile features of Windows 10. On phone, it doesn't have to access the entire function of the app, unless in Continuum, but it could push alert notifications for status and other functions. If MS put actionable features into Tiles, then this would make those functions even better.
  • Not possible. These are x86/x64 applications. They don't run on phones... Perhaps not until Windows 10 on ARM is out.
  • @Gothard No. Not happening, Not viable for technical reasons.
  • All new apps. There are still legacy Windows 8 and Windows Phone apps that aren't UWP.
  • Oops, double post.
  • This definition of what constitutes a UWP app is worthless baloney. I suspect it's only purpose is to inflate the number of apps MS can call "UWP apps" (dishonest marketing IMHO). As any dev will tell you, if an app doesn't communicate with the OS via the UWP API, knows nothing about the UWP, and doesn't support a single UWP feature (like Continuum), it's not a UWP app! It would be far more useful, honest and technically correct to just call such apps "Store apps" (the sum of all Win32 and UWP apps distributed via the Windows Store). That is a term MS has themselves used for this sort of thing.
  • I have to correct you here Daniel, this is not true and please stop mixing the appx packaging with UWP on of them is a platform the other is a packaging - deployment technology. All application which get into the store by Centenial are by definition NOT UWP they are so called Windows Classic apps built with WPF, Win forms or another framework (UWP is a framework too). It is true that some services and API's can be dynamically loaded and used - called from Win32 apps such as Toasts, but at the same time core features like UI and Touch support are incompatible hence different framework. They are using different set of api surface and have different architecture behind them.
  • @AB Dev, Microsoft seems to disagree with you. The "Desktop to UWP Bridge" simply packages the Win32 app in appx. You can then "modernize" it with UWP features, but for all intents and purposes, what Daniel says is true in the end. The appx package is the deployment technology for UWP. https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/uwp/porting/desktop-to-uwp-root...
  • Have you read the docs that you just linked? :) Migration for Win32 apps means you rewrite - you change your code base in a way that is actually compatible with UWP. Enchance with some features and actually running your code on  UWP are two different things. Anyway please do your research before you make statements.
  • From the opening: "There are two parts to this technology. The first part is the conversion process that takes your existing binaries and repackages them as a UWP package. Your code is still the same, it's just packaged differently." Edit: Seriously, i'm actually quite ticked off you'd try to call me out on not reading when its clear you didn't even bother. It's clear as day. I mean... jeez. Condescending a-hole.
  • Sorry if you felt that I was disrespectful did not intend to be, however if you continue reading, just underlines what I have said. Appx is a packaging technology and although, till desktop bridge, it was used only for UWP, it is still just a deployment method. Even if 100% of your code is compatible (to this date have not came through a single project like that), you will be running on your old framework which is not UWP.   If his statement wasn't just plain wrong and therefore missleading, I wouldn't have even bothered writing the first comment.  PS: Assuming going through the pain of packaging desktop apps and reading these docs multiple times due to their changing versions, does give me the right to least point it out if someone has a false statement related to this topic.  Nice language though...
  • 1000 apps is not a big number considering several million of win32 programs.
  • Ummm...thats what i was thinking, and I'm sure when they came up with the notion of UWP,this isn't the number they were thinking of.
  • That's right but it's not that important how many programs are in the store. It's more important which programs. There are several crap programs for Windows but probably only a few thousand used buy millions.
    But MS needs them.
  • And how many of those million are useful and don't suck?
  • A large number. I have about two dozen programs I use regularly on my PC, I can count on one hand how many of those are UWP.
  • the thing is... while there are reportedly "millions" of x86 apps out there, there's no centralized location and a vast majority of users don't know about these apps. if these people wanted to make any money from their hard work, they should be using the Windows Store. And from a consumer perspective, some of these apps will cost cheaper if they can sell in greater volume. I remember searching for an alternative touch keyboard in Windows. And some developer made a pretty cool one (which took me a long time to find via Google), but wanted $20 for it! $20 for an onscreen keyboard! And I bet it's because he knew that not a lot of people visited his website so he was charging old school prices.
  • It is a good number for start.  It can only increase over time with the expansion of W10 installs.  According to a recent survey, 86% of enterprises plan to upgrade to W10 over the next three years.  Those are the crowd who most likely demand Win32 apps.  The developers will be busy getting across the Desktop Bridge.
  • Well a lot of the millions dont get developed anymore so its a great number 😁
  • Wow its ******* nothing
  • "Announced just over eight months ago..."  Did you miss that part of the article? Nearly 1,000 apps converted via an in-development, first of it's kind for Windows, in the history of Windows, with a new platform, tool.......is AMAZING progress. Developers usually do not take quickly to developmental changes.      
  • Considering the tool set is still limited and it's only 8 months, it's actually not terrible. They have to build it out more so it can handle other API calls, which is what they're doing.
  • Aren't you a little shocked though, that they are this far into the campaign and the tools are limited? It really is baffling how some of these companies are rub.
  • Yes...I thought the Projects were for this,  and then they canned them all....
  • They didn't can them all, only the Android bridge, Astoria. Islandwood, in fact, was used to bring dJay Pro to the Windows Store.
  • Ok, but the tools are still lacking compared to what they were touting.
  • Well is how MS has been doing since Nadella came. They always promise and underdeliver.
  • Keeping a tight gripping squeeze on the mobile side. This then prevents a company wanting to use Windows Mobile from building up. Seems like it's a preventative measure because the changes are quite dramatic. Calendar wise we are in the second quarter of the year and wondering how much more is needed. I haven't received the Creators Update on my laptop yet which seemed to be more of a Settings update with a couple of features because most were delayed if not cut and that's about it from what I've  read. Redstone 3 perhaps will be when the new Snapdragon devices hit the market maybe in the 3rd or 4th quarter if not then 2018.
  • Sorry, wasn't centennial announced at Build 2015? But the tools have only been out for 8 months?
  • Yes.
  • Alright, looking for more progress on this front at Build 2022!
  • announcement is diffrent when become availbale to developers, they must do a lot of beta test and test to make sure it is releibale 
  • It's everything. I'm sorry your narrow worldview can't see how important it is. All of this software runs on Windows 10 S. I can't wait for the day I can switch my 10 Pro machines to Store only.
  • your at least 5 years off on that one...if ever!
  • Don't call people's worldview narrow when you can't wait for the day to have Professional machines locked to one app store and less user choice. No emulators for retro games. No nostalgic ventures back to Sim City 4. No Steam. No way for any of the people in Microsoft's keynote today to sync their phones with their PCs because iTunes definitely won't be coming to the Store. No Google Chrome. Don't care because you don't use Chrome? Well, you should, because Edge only exists today after Chrome and Firefox developed better JavaScript rendering engines than MS did when they floundered around with IE. As it stands today, if either make it to the Store, they have to use Microsoft's Edge rendering engine. History shows Microsoft isn't the best when they're running alone. Windows 10 S is Microsoft going full-Apple (minus the fact that Microsoft's upcoming $49 paywall is a free checkbox on macOS).
  • "As it stands today, if either make it to the Store, they have to use Microsoft's Edge rendering engine." No they don't. What makes you think that?
  • I guess you didn't consider that maybe the poster you're replying to would like to lock down the machines at his job, because as a system admin none of the things you mention really matter when people are supposed to be working.  In that case, SimCity 4 and Steam not being able to be installed is a benefit.
  • While it may be a free checkbox, keep in mind the OS is cheaper and therefore its more likely built into the price. Its difficult to compare to Apple since they offer zero choices, but Windows 10 S costs less than Windows 10 Pro. Edit: And don't say someone can't tell someone else they have a narrow worldview because they don't have the same worldview as you.
  • I find it hysterical that it was announced today at Build that iTunes is coming to the Windows Store. I just wanted to add that here.
  • you are clearly a desperate fanboy...store only? :)) in what decade? maybe the next one, but I doubt it. Others such as Apple and Google will always do better.
  • Nice... keep them coming!!!
  • And nothing for mobile, of course.
  • Time to let it go, this won't be your week.
  • 😞
  • Savage
  • Lol
  • I think "week" is being generous. 
  • 😁
  • Wait till tomorrow...
  • There will be nothing for mobile. It's gone. Forget it.
  • Why would they list native Win32 apps in the phone store?
  • There's a phone store now?
  • the logos on the screen... I am vaguely aware of Evernote, Slack, Kodi, and Audible. Slack on PC is a joke as it is itself a web wrapper... and not a very good one.  I havent used Audible or Evernote.  But Kodi is pretty handy, but I don't use the UWP version... perhaps I should give it a try.   But I use a ton of software in my day-to-day work... and they have a whole 2 titles out of 1000 that I use?  That is not a good start.  Not good at all.  I really hope this changes over the next year because I really want to live in a world where Windows S replaces home and there is just a small upgrade fee to Pro.  But if they can't get some more major titles on that list, then they are never going to make it. Things I would like to see:
    Labtech
    SolarWinds
    MassHandra
    MS Office (full desktop version!)
    Putty
    VNC
    RDCM
    Google Chrome (with full app/ext support)
    Skype (full desktop version)
    Steam/Orgin/gog/etc.
      I mean, the biggest problem is that this process is 'so easy anyone can do it' and we don't even have a decent set of MS titles on the list.  Let's see some leadership in making this work.
  • Slack is not a wrapper per se ; Slack is based on Electron, which is basically a sophisticated java script...so Slack even as a "Win32 app" IS basically just a web wrapper...like that is literally how Slack is built on ALL platforms.
  • And Slack is fantastic on desktop. I'm even happier with it in the Store because I don't get bothered with update installers.
  • The Audible UWP app is pretty good - It's up there with the Natwest UWP Banking App as one of the best apps on the store IMO. It's all down to what you use, but the only non-store apps I use are development tools for the most part. If there is a UWP app that does something as well as it's Win32 alternative I'll go for the UWP, single source for updates and no background updaters and junk like that
  • Would have to agree with you on Audible. The app is quite good and I didn't realize it was Centennial. I wish Amazon would release their other apps with similar quality.
  • Audible is one of the bright spots. I even think the windows mobile app is better than the android one. They update it regularly. Its still an 8.x app though.
  • Audible went full UWP on W10M. If you have the 8.x version, you have the wrong version.
  • the version I have, the only version I can find on the store says Windows 8 or higher required. That is not full UWP. It has a yellow (non transparent) tile. Is there another app out there? It wouldn't surprise knowing the poor search function of the store. Edit: In the about section within the app, it says Audible for Windows 10 10.4.49.0, but the store link for the same app says 8.0 or higher OS required.
  • Some apps have the same entry in the store for both OSes. If you had WP8, it'd download that version. If you have W10M, it downloads the full version. I doubt they added "Channels" to the old app, so if you have Channels available to you, you're probably on the new one.
    Edit: I think if you have the flyout on the left, you have the W10M. If you have the old school carousel, its WP8.
  • Office is already coming. See the Windows 10 S event. The Skype Desktop app blows. It's the damn worst. Ugly, terrible, and easily-hated. I hope it dies this year. What are SolarWindows and MassHandra? Specialized apps? Probably never in the store. Run Windows 10 Pro. Any other specialized apps follow the same. Re: Steam, Microsoft needs to get in touch with Gabe and make a good deal with him. Tailor a Steam package to work really well so that Valve can keep their full take from Steam games. It's just the right thing to do. Same with Origin. Make it easy for gamers to use Windows 10 S... or... Make it easier for publishers to get their games in the Windows Store than on Steam, and let them make more money on the Store than Steam. Either work with them or cut them out, one or the other.
  • It's impossible to trust Microsoft with games and UWP still. Their first two published UWP games - Quantum Break and Rise of the Tomb Raider - are more well-supported and maintained on Steam. Halo Wars: Definitive Edition, after Microsoft telling devs to support cross-play, doesn't support cross-play on their main franchise! Halo 5 Forge is an exception, but it proves their inconsistency and lack of integrity to gamers. Didn't they do a demo for Witcher 3 through Centennial? Where is that? The only third party games are Resident Evil 7 and the closed-off-to-everything-else 2016 COD game at this point.
  • In MS's defense, updating an old game to do cross-play is a bit much. Its not like they rebuilt Halo Wars from the ground up.
  • CyberLink is a software maker. They make excellent programs like PowerDirector, PhotoDirector, WaveEditor, PowerDVD etc. PowerDVD (despite the name) is probably one of (if not *the* best) video players you'll find on Windows. It's also really popular. If they bring it to the Store, it will be quite an achievement for Microsoft.
  • And they still don't support 3rd party keyboards and their purchase of SwiftKey hasn't made its way into Windows 10. Come on MS! That's the only thing keeping me from truly enjoying using a Win10 tablet! You've had YEARS to get it! :(
  • That's true. The keyboard is not even on the same level as mobile.
  • Labtech
    SolarWinds
    MassHandra
    MS Office (full desktop version!)
    Putty
    VNC
    RDCM
    Google Chrome (with full app/ext support)
    Skype (full desktop version)
    Steam/Orgin/gog/etc. MS Office is coming to UWP this summer.
    Don't hold your breath for Chrome to ever be a UWP app. Google won't allow it.
    Same thing for Steam.
    The others are all techy stuff that the average user won't ever ask for or even know what they are (I know as I use them all.)
    Those kinds of apps SHOULD be run on W10 Pro as you probably need the domain-access and advanced features W10 Pro offers anyway. W10S is for your Grandma and your nephew in art college and your idiot uncle who wants to check his baseball scores on MLB.com.
    W10Pro is for Power Users and Techno Geeks and Gamers.
    W10Enterprise is for IT Professionals.
  • That's ok Khaaannn .... as far as Google goes . Here it is .  I for one use Chrome Browser for Windows with My Chromecast thing and if that is the case that Google Chrome Browser may never be a universal app then that is fine because fortunately for Google their OEM Partners have affordable options for Android because if that was not the case then Google's bias would come back to bite them in the backside with their Windows Users like me and they would be the next ones in line doing what Apple did that led to iTunes for Windows talking about how " hell froze over " in the end because of how they had a time serving Windows .Users with iPods at the time .  The same thing would happen to Windows Users with Chromecast Devices .
    Plus , the fact that when Windows 7 and 8.1 all goes to their end of extended support dates and all that is being supported by Microsoft is 
    Windows 10 then that will be when the real competition between Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge really starts to take off 
    and that alone would set Google's feet to the fire .      I will add that uncle can also check his baseball scores on MLB.com through W10Pro as well .
    W10Pro will also accomodate the grandma and the nephew in art college as well included with the Techno Geeks and Gamers . 
  • Is there a list? The categories in the Store are just awful. Like the store search engine. I really don't get it. Microsoft has bing but searching in the store is a mess. Can't wait for the full adobe creative suit in the store. Maybe the article is already written for tomorrow.
  • There is an unofficial list in here: https://www.reddit.com/r/Windows10/comments/53s10e/list_of_apps_converte...
    But the numbers are not anywhere close to a thousand.
  • I fully expect W10 Home to be discontinued as a SKU by the fall, replaced by W10S.
  • That would be a huge shot in the foot.
  • I fully don't expect that for logical reasons.
  • This bridge is going to be the bridge Microsoft walks on and falls off the other end. They really need to make the UWP platform much more accessible for developers. It seems to be the most closed off of any of the mobile platforms, and that I think is going to just have people just develop a win-32 app and throw it through Centennial while they focus their other mobile efforts on iOS and Android. Microsoft really just took a 180 from the Windows 8 vision and went back to focusing solely on desktop as shown by today's build keynote of not even using a single Windows Phone to demo any of their future products. They talked so much about the future, apparently Windows is not part of it. Guess this is one way to transition the death of Windows.
  • What are you basing that on? UWP is the most open they've been with their modern apps - You can do loads more in UWP than you could ever do in WP7, and Windows/Phone 8 and 8.1 It's easier than ever to publish apps into the store and the services around it for developers are a joy to use - They are 100% behind the store, you can tell it from the developer events and just by using them to publish real apps it's immediately obvious that they are invested in getting apps into the store
  • of course they are, for years...without any result as it seems. Devs still avoid the app store, major ones, and if they don't, their apps lack features and are buggy, and are not updated for months..
  • Right on Dan Harris .
    But here is the thing .  I don't think that even a lot of developers really know that they can develop apps or convert and publish apps for Windows/Phone 8 and 8.1 and those apps will migrate themselves to Windows/Phone 10 through the Windows Store without any problem . There is such a big overwhelming fuss about making or converting apps to the UWP from some people who have a big prejudice against the UWP when they can be making or converting apps and publishing apps to the Windows Store on Windows/Phone 8 and 8.1 and
    through that already be in the uwp .   
  • The phones in the demos as part of the keynote are not the interesting part of the demos....It's everything else that enables those scenarios. The phone is essentially an endpoint for input and output and is just as boring as it's been for years. I think the only people bothered about the phones not being shown are WP fans who are non-developers - Everybody else is more interested in the things that are actually new, interesting and impressive.
  • How is the Windows Store the most closed? Explain please.
  • The Weather Channel app isn't one of them.
  • SAD.
  • I don't get why Audible is on there TBH, their app is a true UWP app that runs on Mobile too rather than a Win32 app wrapped up with Centennial. It's a damn good app too
  • i think its that it was brought over originally through Centennial. They didn't start from scratch with UWP.
  • Appx files are a deployment container. They can hold 8.1 apps as well as Windows 10 apps. UWP apps are Windows 10 applications that target the UWP platform and can potentially run on any device running Windows 10, regardless of CPU or device form factor.
  • That was definitely the original idea but I think Microsoft lost faith in that and are now taking UWP in a different direction, not to say it's a bad direction but I think UWP native plus Xamarin all powered by Azure is the best way to go for the future but if centennial is a stepping stone for that then I guess it's alright.
  • UWP is not some abstract concept. It's a distinct platform target in Vistual Studio. After the UWP app is built you deploy it to the store where it can be available to any Windows 10 device - PC, tablet, Xbox, Hololens, etc.
  • This might work if Microsoft bought Valve/Steam, otherwise the store is pretty empty of appealing titles for the win32 platform.    If busness is the focus, then what ever Microsoft does has to work with Windows 7.  Where is the iOS bridge for "current" apps?
  • Microsoft does not have the money to buy Valve; plus it would first have to be for sale.
  • Everything is for sale for the right price.
  • IIRC Microsoft has roughly $100 billion in cash. Valve is not worth that much.
  • Valve is worth whatever Gabe Newell is willing to sell it for.
  • Is Microsoft reduced to buying companies so that they can have nice things on their platform?
  • This will be a big fail, unless companies that port their win32 software to WinStore also grant license for 'apps' for the people who already bought their Win32 version.
  • Absolutely. I'm not paying again for software I've already bought (not including lower priced upgrades from earlier versions).
  • Is there a way to actually search in the Store for Project Centennial apps specifically? There isn't is there? Because MS doesn't know how to make a storefront to save their lives.
  • Too bad a number of those UWP apps don't engage W10Mobile even when it would make sense.
  • I thought kodi still Win32 converted. No a full uwp development. Soo why it is not on Xbox?
  • Where are the appx files for chrome and photoshop....???? Did not any 1 convert them...??????? 😐
  • Nope, and chrome isn't happening any time soon
  • they should make a section in the store for desktop converting apps
  • Call it Legacy Apps
  • I second to that
  • CCleaner from Piriform should beome a UWP, with all their updates
  • How would CCleaner work from a constrained runtime environment?
  • It doesn't have to work. Its just profitable snake oil. Its good as long as Windows "seems" faster.
  • Really, where are these programs. i hasn't noticed
  • oh wow! :))) how can they come up and be proud of 1000 apps when the competition has millions :)))) I'll soon see here fanboy orgasm.