The company wants to encourage developers to migrate 16 million existing Windows applications to its cross-platform format
Microsoft said has begun offering its conversion tools for older Windows applications directly through the Windows Store in a bid to make them more appealing to developers.
The Desktop App Converter tool is now available through the Windows Store, meaning new features and bug-fixes can be made available as soon as Microsoft releases them.
The tool is part of a wider effort at Microsoft, called Desktop Bridge, to encourage developers to convert what it estimates as 16 million applications written for older Windows platforms – such as Win32, .NET, and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) – to work with the current Universal Windows Platform (UWP).
UWP applications can, in theory, work across device types including the desktop, smartphones, the Xbox One gaming platform and HoloLens head-mounted systems.
While Windows’ large base of existing software has made it appealing for the desktop, that has not helped Microsoft compete in fast-growing areas such as smartphones, although it has fared better with its Surface range of tablets.
The developer tools Microsoft released in August along with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update Software Developer Kit are intended to help bring that established software over to a broader range of devices using the UWP format, Microsoft says.
Initially Desktop Bridge applications will only run on the desktop, but with further modifications they will, in theory, be able to run across all UWP platforms, according to the company.
“This… enables the path to gradually migrate the app or game to reach all Windows 10 devices over time, including phones, Xbox One and HoloLens,” Microsoft said.
The converted software can be listed on the Windows Store, and Microsoft said an initial selection of Desktop Bridge apps will appear on the Store within the next few days.
Evernote, Arduino IDE, DoubleTwist, PhotoScape, MAGIX Movie Edit Pro and others are to shortly appear alongside others built using Desktop Bridge in the Windows Store.
Microsoft said three companies that make popular Windows installer software – Flexera Software with InstallShield, FireGiant with WiX and Caphyon with Advanced Installer – have added support for Desktop Bridge.
Microsoft also announced conversion tools for iOS, web applications and Silverlight applications, but said earlier this year it was no longer developing its Android bridge.
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