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All the questions about universal Windows apps you didn't dare ask

All the questions about universal Windows apps you didn't dare ask

All the questions about universal Windows apps you didn't dare ask

We review all the questions about UWP that you may have.

Everyone talks about UWP, and not always on good terms. The Microsoft platform has earned some allies and several enemies, and right now probably the most controversial part of Windows 10, although for the average user there really doesn’t seem to be much difference.

Instead, there are other people who believe that UWP represents the same periodic change we have seen for decades. The seasons change just like the platforms, and all this has already happened and will happen again.

Questions about UWP that we can already answer

What is UWP?

UWP stands for Universal Windows Platform, and is Microsoft’s concept for creating and using applications. It is a concept that It does not hide its inspiration on mobile platforms, such as iOS and Android.

The proliferation of apps for these systems sent a message to Microsoft: the programs are no longer in fashion, what they take are the apps. So its engineers set about creating such a platform, and so, with Windows 8, UWP was introduced.

The UWP platform is made up of several parts, from a new type of container file (.appx replaces the veteran .exe), to a new API for developers.

What is an API?

When a programmer creates a program, it does not write absolutely all the necessary code, because it would take ten times more to finish. The most common functions, especially those that require access to different parts of the system, are accessible using an API.

For example, let’s say I’m writing a program that creates a file in the user’s home directory. But what is the personal directory like? In Windows, this folder has a different name depending on the user’s name. Instead of complicating my life looking for details like that, I can simply call an API function that gives me the address of the user’s personal folder, and another function that writes the file for me.

Thus, the better the API, the easier and more accessible it will be to program for that system. Therefore, it is in Microsoft’s interest to create an API that developers can use to create programs, and improve it over time.

What options were there until now in Windows?

Because Microsoft has control over Windows, only the APIs that you release can be used to create programs for Windows. Currently, there are two options; UWP is the newest, but there is also win32, named after it because it was designed for 32-bit computers.

The vast majority of programs you use in Windows access the win32 API, and it is one of the most veteran platforms on the market, considering that in reality win32 was an evolution of win16, for 16 bit processors

That win32 is so old has its positive points: it is a well-tested and well-known platform, very stable and in which you will not find surprises, basically the best thing you can say to a programmer. But on the other hand, over the years the limitations of win32 are noticed, and it is increasingly clear that it is not a platform for the future.

Can I continue to use Win32?

Yes, win32 applications are still supported in Windows 10, and will continue to be for a long time. The doubt is in the future.

What future will Win32 have with the arrival of UWP?

According to Microsoft, the arrival of UWP does not mean the end of win32. However, every day it seems clearer that this is a message aimed at calming developers so that they do not leave Windows in droves.

Everyone accepts that win32 does not last forever, the question is whether the platform that replaces it is up to the task. For many programmers, UWP is not the true successor to win32.

Is an app better in UWP or Win32?

It depends on what you are looking for. Win32 applications are what we commonly call programsThat is, they are usually more complete and powerful, but also more complicated. UWP applications instead are apps, they are obtained in the Windows Store and are aimed at a new generation of users who live with the smartphone close to hand, and therefore are simpler and more direct applications.

Imagine that UWP is a normal car and win32 is an SUV. With the second you can go wherever you want, or take the road, but the truth is that most people settle for going by road, ignoring the dirt roads.

What differences does UWP offer in terms of security?

Normally, when we run a program, it has access to the entire system; Thanks to that it can offer more possibilities and be more powerful, but that implies that viruses can touch files that they shouldn’t, change the system configuration and ultimately be a disaster.

Instead UWP apps run in what is known as a sandbox, or a sandbox, in which do not have access to critical parts of the system. A sandbox is a mechanism that limits what the app can see when it runs; and if you can’t see it, you can’t touch it and change it.

This is controlled with a permit system. Although you have not used any app from the Windows store, surely you have had to give permissions to an iOS or Android app; in the case of UWP it is the same, is not able to do anything with the webcam if you do not give permission to use it, for example.

What differences does UWP have in the aspect of the apps?

UWP introduce new controls and tools for the interface, so we might think that all apps are the same. Not so, the platform allows the creation of custom interfaces, but until now designers have preferred to opt for the appearance of official Microsoft apps, which are better on smartphones.

But the truth is that with UWP we can create programs with the classic Windows style.

What does it mean that UWP is a universal app?

That means developers only have to worry about creating the code for their application, no matter where it will run.

This idea has really taken shape with Windows 10, which allows you to run universal apps that share the same code between PCs, smartphones and tablets. For the programmer, it is work that is saved, and for the user, it is the convenience of using the same app regardless of the device.

Does that mean I can run UWP apps on any Windows device?

Yes and no. Although developers can make apps universal, they are not obliged to do so. There are already several cases of universal apps that are only available on one type of device: for example, the Instagram app is only available for smartphones, not for PC, although it would technically be possible to run it on the desktop.

Am I required to use the Windows Store if I want to use UWP apps?

No. It is possible to download and run the applications that you download in .appx format since last November Microsoft implemented this possibility in Windows 10. Until then the only way to get apps was with the official store.

If you have downloaded an app and cannot run it, you may not have this functionality configured correctly. To check it, open Settings, go to Update and security and in For developers, activate Perform application test installation.

I have heard that the games sold in the Windows Store are worse, what limitations does UWP have for games?

The limitations of UWP are what one might expect from smartphone apps, and that is a problem for video games, which traditionally have always needed greater access to the system. This is why UWP has drawn a lot of criticism, especially from personalities like Epic Games’ Tim Sweeney, who has accused Microsoft of trying to create a fenced garden, a closed system in which only Microsoft has power.

Although Microsoft has responded to these criticisms assuring that it wants Windows to remain an open platform, the truth is that UWP imposes restrictions on programmers and players that we have never seen before.

Among these restrictions we find:

  • Incompatible with systems with more than one graphics card.
  • Obligation to use v-sync (vertical sync), which worsens game performance if we go fair.
  • Mods cannot be installed in games, due to the security system built into UWP.
  • It is not possible to use programs that remain above the game window, such as fraps or Steam.
  • The game must be run in full screen window. This seriously affects performance.

Representatives of Microsoft have stepped up to the criticism, promising that they know that gamers expect more from the platform, and that are working on improving UWP with all the suggestions. But until these improvements come, UWP is currently a very bad platform for video games.

Let’s go to the important, does UWP have a future?

It’s hard to answer that. Unlike what it may seem, the future of UWP is not tied to that of Windows 10. The Windows operating system can succeed, and UWP can fail miserably. That’s because win32 is something that still exists and is still the most widely used platform on the entire planet.

The key is that UWP cannot replace win32 even if it wants, because it does not offer the same possibilities to developers or users. Based on these limitations, UWP is in a difficult situation: it is ideal for smartphones and tablets, and more and more companies are relying on UWP for desktop applications, but the majority of programs you use are still win32, and that will not change.