What Windows 11 Means for Developers

Today at the What’s next for Windows — developer event, we’ll show you the next era of Windows and how we are embracing Windows == open platform. This means everyone has open access to run the widest range of apps on Windows, enabling all developers to build the apps and experiences that empower users to create, learn, and play. We focus on five key areas of improvement for Windows 11:

  • The new Microsoft Store;
  • Improvements in end-to-end Web development;
  • New features coming for native Windows apps;
  • The Fluent design system and WinUI; and
  • What’s new for game developers.

Taking advantage of the new Microsoft Store

Image 1: The new Microsoft Store spotlight section on the homepage.

We unveil the new Microsoft Store on Windows, and announce our support for more app types such as Win32, .NET, and PWAs, as well as support for Android apps from the Amazon Appstore. The Store is also redesigned to keep your customers in their flow and make it easier to search for and discover curated stories and collections. With new features like the “pop-up” Store your users can install apps directly from the browser. You will also have more revenue sharing options, such as keeping 100% when you bring your own commerce platform for the Store for your app (this does not include PC games). A preview of the new Store will be available soon to Windows Insiders.

Using our dev tools to improve Web and native Windows app development

Image 2: Progressive Web App Shortcuts integrated with Windows

With Windows 11, we are embracing all your apps and are working to make all apps feel right at home on Windows. And, with the new PWABuilder3, you can build a PWA from your web app in minutes. The evergreen WebView2 runtime is also included with Windows 11 making it easier to take advantage of its web platform as a performant and secure way to build hybrid web apps. Of course, you can continue to use powerful developer offerings like Windows Terminal and the new Microsoft Edge DevTools as they are now in-box.

The Windows App SDK, formerly known as Project Reunion, will make it easier for you to integrate Windows 11 features into your apps while still enabling you to reach more than 1B users on Windows 10. We will continue to build the Windows App SDK in cooperation with the community and starting today, you can use the Windows App SDK 0.8 Stable release (still called Project Reunion in the NuGet package and Visual Studio Marketplace). In this release you will find stability updates for WinUI3 and support for developing for Visual Studio 16.10. The Windows App SDK 1.0 will be released later this year.

You can also build apps that run natively on Windows on ARM with the new ARM64 Emulation Compatible ABI. Using the ARM64EC, you can mix native ARM and emulated x64 code in the same process or module. This interoperability means you can optimize your app to run on Windows on ARM even if your app has x64 dependencies or loads x64 plugins you don’t control.

Refreshing your apps and experiences so they are more engaging

Image 3: Use UI with rounded geometry, leverage micro-interactions, and apply a refreshed color palette with new materials to make your apps look great in Windows 11.

If you want to rejuvenate your app design and experiences to feel at home on Windows 11, you can use WinUI3 to take advantage of the built-in UI update such as rounded geometry, refreshed iconography, new typography, fun micro-interactions (such as Lottie animation), and refreshed color palette. New materials like Mica also add meaningful hierarchy, and more. Snap layouts will also ensure you and your users will be productive on Windows 11.

You can also easily create and manage your app’s windows using Reunion Windowing. It works with your existing app code, simplifies common operations, and brings new functionality to your desktop apps like light-dismiss behavior, picture-in-picture mode, and easier titlebar customization.

Developing awesome games for both PC and Console

To simplify game development for PCs, we are making our Game Development Kit (GDK) publicly available, free of charge on GitHub. The GDK contains the common tools, libraries, and documentation needed to build games for the PC and is the same base GDK used by thousands of developers today to deliver great experiences for players everywhere. The GDK adds to the Game Stack collection of technologies we offer today to help developers create, publish, monetize, and scale their games.

Image 4: Luminance heatmap showing SDR, Auto HDR and Native HDR

We also annnounce that great game play technology, previously only available on console, is now available on Windows 11 including DirectStorage. To get all the benefits of DirectStorage, you’ll need a PCIe 3.0+ NVMe SSD and a GPU that supports DirectX 12 and Shader Model 6.0+. This enables reduced load times and more expansive, detailed, living worlds. As well as Auto HDR, which automatically updates DirectX 11 and newer games with enhanced lighting and color to high dynamic range with no additional work needed by you or your players.

We look forward to collaborating with you to make progress on each of these efforts, so we can build productive, engaging, and immersive experiences together. Learn more at aka.ms/windowsdev.