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Windows 10 will soon make opening PWAs feel more native

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Microsoft Edge (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • You could soon be able to open progressive web apps with the "Open With" dialog box on Windows 10.
  • The new setup would make progressive web apps feel more native on Windows 10.
  • Progressive web apps would open directly on their own instead of opening a website in a browser tab.

Microsoft is working on a way to let people open progressive web apps (PWAs) with the "Open With" dialog box on Windows 10. The feature makes PWAs feel more native since you no longer have to jump around between different ways of accessing the same service. PWAs will appear alongside other apps on Windows 10 once the feature rolls out. You can enable the experimental feature now through edge://flags.

In order to facilitate this functionality, Microsoft is working to allow multiple apps to handle the same protocols. It's explained in more technical terms in a document by Microsoft's Fabio Rocha (via Windows Latest). Rocha explains Microsoft's goal for the change:

We would like to completely separate the browser protocol registration from app protocol registration on Windows. This will allow multiple apps to register to handle the same protocols on Windows, without the current need for the browser to act as a disambiguation in case of conflicting registrations (at the Windows registry level).

This new setup would allow multiple apps, or the same app with multiple profiles, to handle the same protocol.

A Chromium post explains the situation further. In the past, web app protocol handlers used the browser OS registration to register new protocols. As a result, a conflict could appear when a web app or PWA wanted to handle the same protocol. The solution is to let people pick which app would handle protocols.

There are, however, some drawbacks to the new approach. Only the first app that registers for a protocol will provide a native app experience. The setup can also lead to confusion as a person might see options for several similar apps or websites.

If this setup does roll out, it will make PWAs feel more native. When you click a link that can open a PWA, it will open as a separate PWA window rather than a browser tab.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

5 Comments
  • Just like your phone can..?
  • Sounds like good progress.
  • They need to fix the issue of installed app icon disappearing from start menu upon browser update first.
  • Agreed. It does this on the Taskbar too. I've submitted the feedback already.
  • I love PWA on W10. They really do fill a void. I have most of my streaming services set up on my SP7 as PWA, plus the social media sites.