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Microsoft's 'Project Reunion' on Track to Reunite a Divided Windows Dev Community

Microsoft's efforts to pull together a fragmented Windows developer ecosystem, dubbed Project Reunion, is still at the preview stage, but has advanced to version 0.8, Microsoft announced.

Project Reunion is Microsoft's solution for easing Windows developer efforts, given the current schism between the Win32 (Windows 7) and Universal Windows Platform ("modern") models. It provides a set of libraries, frameworks, components, and tools developers can use to access Windows platform functionality from all kinds of apps on many versions of the platform.

Version 0.5 shipped in March. Testers can now install the preview version 0.8 via the "Project Reunion Visual Studio template" from at Microsoft's main GitHub repository page.

The Project Reunion 0.8 preview includes support for unpackaged apps, which allow developers to use AppLifecycle, MRT Core, and DWriteCore in their unpackaged (non-MSIX) apps, Microsoft says. 

App Lifecycle, MRT Core and DWriteCore are Project Reunion components. App Lifecycle adds certain app activation and lifecycle functionality for apps. DWriteCore is an API used for text rendering and is Project Reunion's implementation of the DirectWrite DirectX API. MRT Core creates an index of all of the resources in a packaged app; Microsoft calls it "a streamlined version of the modern Windows Resource Management System."

Microsoft previously explained that Project Reunion isn't a new model for developers. Instead, it combines Win32 capabilities with modern API techniques and lets developers to use parts of it without having to rewrite a Windows app.

Fuller WinUI 3 capabilities in Project Reunion are expected in Q4 2021, which is when Project Reunion 1.0 is due for release, according to Microsoft's roadmap.

Microsoft announced the Project Reunion 0.8 release announcement during the week of its Build developer conference, held online. During his conference keynote, Satya Nadella, Microsoft's CEO, hinted at big news coming for Windows developers. "Soon," we will share one of the most significant updates of Windows of the past decade to unlock greater economic opportunity for developers and creators," he said.

Microsoft also announced a collaboration with Qualcomm to create a Snapdragon Developer Kit aimed at developers building Windows 10 apps on Arm-based PCs that use Snapdragon processors. The dev kit, which will help developers port their apps to ARM64, will be sold via the Microsoft Store sometime this summer.

Microsoft also touted a Windows Machine Learning (WinML) API that developers can use to deploy machine learning models in Windows applications. It's apparently not new, though, as Microsoft already uses it for current Windows 10 features, such as "Ink Recognition and Photos."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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