At Build 2016, Microsoft announced that it was making it possible to port desktop Windows software to the store and create universal apps with the help of Project Centennial, and now the company has released a dedicated solution to facilitate this transition.
Called simply the Desktop App Converter, this solution is now available for developers who want to bring their Win32 and .NET apps in the Windows Store and benefit from all the advantages that universal apps bring on Windows 10.
For the moment, the ported apps can only be used on PCs, but the plan is to create universal apps for all Windows 10 devices, including both desktops and smartphones. Options to run these apps on phones will be added soon, Microsoft guarantees.
Microsoft’s new solution converts the typical Windows installer, in the majority of cases available as either an MSI or EXE file, to APPX, the package extension that’s being used for store apps. This allows the app to be installed on Windows 10 PCs directly from the store.
But by converting a Windows desktop program to a universal app brings a series of other advantages, including a direct update system through the store. This means that, whenever an app receives a new update, PCs running Windows 10 can get it automatically from the store, and not through a built-in auto-update engine or manually with a new installer.
Furthermore, once they land in the store as universal apps, all these programs can have their own live tiles and support toast notifications and the action center, while at the same time helping Microsoft offer a more relevant universal store that doesn’t suffer from the lack of apps.
Project Centennial will make its public debut in the Anniversary Update coming in the summer, so devs who want to start work on their porting need at least build 14316 (which is actually a preview of this update).