With Continuum, capable Windows 10 Mobile devices will be able to act like PCs, hooking up to keyboards, mice, and monitors for a full Windows desktop experience, and Microsoft is looking into ways of expanding these capabilities. Apparently, that involves investigating the possibility of running Win32 apps from phones, according to Microsoft’s Kevin Gallo during the Connect() 2015 conference.
I have two things to say about this. First, this is totally cool. The idea of having just one smartphone with me that can hook up to a display, keyboard, and mouse, and then also run proper Win32 applications (instead of crappy Metro applications) is incredibly appealing to me. I like the concept of the Surface and Continuum (the device being smart enough to adapt the UI to the current input method), but a desktop with just Metro (and yes I will keep using that name) applications is pretty much useless. It’s going to need big girl applications.
Second, while cool, this is also yet another admission from Microsoft that they just can’t get developers – either inside or outside – to care much about Metro and all that it entails. Microsoft would love to move everyone – users and developers alike – over to Metro, but it just isn’t happening, and there’s no signs that it’s going to get any better in the near future. I would love for Metro to be adopted enough (and capable enough) so that it can start replacing Win32 – but it’s been years now, and it’s pretty clear that we’re just not getting there.
The UWP only just has just been finalised this year but the move to provide win32 within a app-v container (Project Centennial) and sold through the Store rather than an admitting of failure is rather an acceptance that people aren’t willing to give up access to win32 applications and be told, “just hold tight, one day those applications will come”. The other problem is the lack of confidence Microsoft has in their own framework – why isn’t Explorer re-written in UWP (or at least the mention of a road map), the half finished mixture of Settings and Control Panel? It is all good talking about new frameworks but as the company who created it you need to go out of your way to demonstrate, by dog-fooding your own API, that it is ready for prime time and that others should jump onboard the gravy train.