One of the more persistent criticisms of Microsoft’s app ecosystem is the lackluster selection. While it has improved over the years, Redmond is looking to accelerate that even more by open-sourcing Windows Bridge.
The idea is that the third-party development community can help Microsoft make a great and useful tool for app developers—at least, app developers who are looking to get their iOS and Android software working on Windows devices.
That’s Windows Bridge, essentially. The tool, announced at Microsoft’s Build 2015 conference earlier this year, is designed to help Android and iOS developers more easily port their apps over to the Windows platform. Today, Microsoft released an early version of the iOS iteration of Windows Bridge (previously dubbed “Project Islandwood”) as an open-source project, with all components available to download via Github.
“We’re releasing the iOS bridge as an open-source project under the MIT license. Given the ambition of the project, making it easy for iOS developers to build and run apps on Windows, it is important to note that today’s release is clearly a work-in-progress — some of the features demonstrated at Build are not yet ready or still in an early state,” reads Microsoft’s blog post. “Regardless, we’d love for the interested and curious to look at the bridge, and compare what we’re building with your app’s requirements. And, for the really ambitious, we invite you to help us by contributing to the project, as community contributors—with source code, tests, bug reports, or comments. We welcome any and all participation in building this bridge.”
Those interested in checking out this Windows Bridge preview can use it to create both x86 and x64 versions of Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 apps. Microsoft will, at some point, release an update that will unlock ARM support as well.
Android app developers will have to wait a little bit to get their hands on the platform. Microsoft hopes to wrap up the Windows Bridge (iOS version) beta by this fall, its launch window for the full version of the tool. Microsoft will then launch the more public beta for the Android iteration of Windows Bridge (which currently only allows developers to create phone apps, not universal apps). Windows Bridge (for Android) is currently in an invite-only technical preview.
“The Windows Bridge for Classic Windows apps, ‘Project Centennial,’ that will make it possible to package and publish your current .NET and Win32-based Windows applications to the Windows Store, will be ready for public testing next year,” Microsoft said.