Windows 11 UI refresh: Microsoft WinUI 3 to focus on Win32, not UWP

In a surprising move, Microsoft has confirmed that it’s
currently not working on a stable release of WinUI 3 for UWP
apps, as the company wants to focus on once-legacy Win32 apps
for Windows 10 and Windows 11.

WinUI is a new user interface for both Windows 10 and Windows
11, and it contains modern controls/styles for Windows apps.
Microsoft officials describe WinUI as the “native UI platform”
and Microsoft uses it in the shell of Windows as well as React
Native for Windows.

According to Microsoft, WinUI is built for today’s modern
hardware and devices, it supports the latest Fluent styling.
Most of the modern controls and styles that you see in Windows
UWP apps are part of the company’s WinUI project and it
embodies Fluent Design, giving each app the “modern touch” that
users expect.

WinUI 2 is the second generation work of WinUI and it is a
library of controls and styles available for UWP apps. With
WinUI 3, the next generation of WinUI, Microsoft is bringing
new modern and fluent styles/controls to desktop apps. As a
result, all WinUI capabilities are now available to once-legacy
app platforms.

Microsoft originally said
WinUI 3 would be available for all development platforms,
but it appears that the plans have now changed. During the
community call,
Microsoft confirmed that WinUI 3 (next generation WinUI
framework) is not planned for UWP apps.

Instead, the company plans to focus on WinUI 3 for once-legacy
development platforms.

“In terms of those plans or lack thereof that isn’t intended to
be an announcement that WinUl 3 won’t support UWP ever,”
Microsoft said.

Regarding the general availability of WinUI 3 for UWP,
Microsoft does not have a timeframe or confirmed plans to move
WinUl 3 UWP support from Experimental to Stable.

“At present, I don’t know when or if WinUl 3 will become Stable
and supported for UWP. We don’t have plans to do that right
now, nor any time soon. No internal decision has been made to
say that we never will, and no internal decision has been made
to do it either. Just no plans now, and we plan loosely between
6 months to 1 year ahead so that means no plans roughly in next
year,” wrote WinUI Program Manager Ryan Demopoulos in a
Discord
channel.

WinUI 2.x for UWP apps, WinUI 3 for desktop

WinUI roadmap

According to officials, Microsoft wants to focus on “getting
WinUl 3 working for Win32 developers”. As part of the new
strategy, Microsoft says it will reach out to a very large
community of Win32 to persuade developers to refresh their apps
for Windows 11.

For Win32 developers, WinUI 3 is a positive change as Microsoft
has finally opened up all modern functionalities.

So what’s old is new again, but this move won’t be reassuring
to UWP developers. That’s because WinUI 2 has multiple
limitations. For example, it does not support Microsoft
Chromium-based WebView2 control or NET 5.0.

Microsoft will be maintaining WinUI 2.x for UWP apps, but it is
obvious that Microsoft will be investing more in WinUI 3.

Long story short — UWP is not dead and there are no plans
against it, but the company’s current priority is WinUI 3
refresh for Win32 apps.

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