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Project Reunion is Microsoft’s plan to fix its fragmented Windows app problem

Microsoft announced a new platform for Windows apps called Project Reunion at its annual Build developer conference. It’s an attempt to strengthen the Windows 10 app ecosystem, offering a new vision for “unifying and evolving” the Windows developer platform.

Currently, the platform has been divided between more modern Universal Windows Platform Apps (UWPs) and legacy Win32 apps (Windows API). This app division has been a controversy for developers ever since UWP was introduced in 2015, as it fragmented features, compatibility, user interface, and more. UWP apps were always meant to be the next step in the evolution, but Microsoft’s inability to convince developers to abandon legacy apps and support the new platform has been a major hurdle.

Microsoft says that for the past few years, it’s been “breaking down the barriers” between its two app platforms. Project Reunion is the culmination of that work. With this new project, Microsoft says it solves the problem by unifying access to existing Win32 and UWP APIs (the underlying layer of apps) and decoupling them from the operating system.

“This will provide a common platform for new apps. Plus, it will help you update and modernize your existing apps with the latest functionality, whether they’re C++, .NET (including WPF, Windows Forms, and UWP) or React Native,” said Microsoft.

For average people downloading apps, it means Microsoft’s developers will have a common and backward-compatible platform for creating new apps. Microsoft says it’ll also help developers update apps through tools like NuGet, the package manager for Microsoft development platforms.

Another big part of Project Reunion will be WinUI 3 Preview 1, a modern, native UI framework for Windows. This will allow developers to code apps to have a modern UI that adapts and scales across devices.

Other projects announced at Build include a preview of WebView2. This preview enables developers to embed a Chromium-based WebView in Windows Forms, UWP, and WinUI 3 apps. For end users, it means cleaner apps, as Microsoft says it “will be decoupled from the OS and will bring the power of the Web to the full spectrum of Windows apps.”

Project Reunion is of utmost importance for the future Windows operating systems. Though Windows 10X hasn’t been discussed at Build, a unified app ecosystem will greatly benefit the success of the new operating system.

Apple has been working on its own app unification problem with Project Catalyst, which helps developers port mobile and iPad apps over to the Mac.

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