The future of the Windows platform.

As most of you know already Microsoft made a big announcement at their latest Surface event and part of that was the announcement of Windows 10X (link) which made two interesting mini announcements as part of that which were:

  1. Win32 applications would run in a ‘container’ (probably not the best term to use) to keep the underlying operating system in a pristine condition so it is possible to uninstall software without having random files left over and it ensures that those applications don’t cause a mess to the system because they’re not well behaved. It addresses one of the biggest sore spots for Microsoft in the past – every attempt has involved expecting developers to start with a clean slate and growth was lacklustre because the software wasn’t there and the software wasn’t there because the user base wasn’t there – a chicken and egg scenario.
  2. There is an adaptable UWP based shell being developed based on WinUI (as seen in the mock ups and screenshots) along with bundled applications either utilising WinUI, UWP and/or being PWA but with a WinUI appearance.
  3. WinUI 3.0 is being setup to allow a mixture of WinUI and WinForms/MFC/etc which will allow developers to gradually migration over WinUI not to mention the fact that WinUI has been decoupled from UWP so that it can run older versions of Windows 10 and limited support for Windows 8.1 (which will be coming close to its end of mainstream support soon).

Although Microsoft has made much to promise ‘power users’ that things aren’t going to change but I’d hazard to guess that over the long term once the ‘desktop’ version of the UWP desktop is ready they’ll push it out to desktop users and the experience will be more or less transparent. Basically Microsoft don’t want a repeat of Windows 8 all over again so they’re trying to reassure the ‘tech bros’ and ‘power users’ that their 72 button mouse and glow in the dark keyboard that Microsoft isn’t going to ram something down their throat which radically alters they way they use their computer.

I’d say that a Windows 10 release in 2021 (H1 or H2) will probably include the option of downloading the Windows 10X ISO for the desktop and then maybe in 2022 there will be a switch over to this new WinUI/UWP based Shell will become the default going forward. Little by little I can see Microsoft wanting to move the shell over to the new frameworks with the old frameworks being kept around purely for backwards compatibility. Maybe sometime in the future, like on Windows Server has for 32bit compatibility, Microsoft will allow people to uninstall backwards compatibility to lighten the load where it is installed on demand when required rather than installed by default.