Archive for July 21, 2021

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Windows 11: Android Apps

Tom Warren (Hacker News):

Android apps will run natively on Windows 11 and will be downloadable from Amazon’s Appstore, via the new Windows store that’s included in the operating system.


Microsoft is also partnering with Intel to use its Intel Bridge technology to make this a reality, although the Android apps will still work with both AMD and Arm-based systems.

Presumably, the bridge is only necessary for the parts of the apps compiled for ARM, and the Java bytecode can just run in a Windows JVM.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

I hope Microsoft goes beyond simply running Android apps in a VM; provide a path towards a native-feeling Fluent Windows app, like Catalyst does for UIKit apps on the Mac. Is it an also-ran, or is it the future of consumer app development on Windows?


Windows 11: Windows Store Changes

Dieter Bohn:

At the end of a surprisingly eventful, exciting presentation of Windows 11, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella came on the video feed to deliver some closing remarks. He laid out his vision for Windows 11 as a “platform for platform creators,” and in doing so, he issued a subtle but nonetheless stinging critique of Apple.

Nadella’s speech was almost entirely about building a case that Windows would be a better platform for creators than either macOS or (especially) iOS. He argued that “there is no personal computing without personal agency,” insisting that users should be more in control of their computers.

Nadella called out the changes Microsoft is making to its app store rules, allowing more types of apps, Android apps, and — most importantly — allowing apps to use their own payment systems if they so choose.

Nilay Patel:

If you had told me in 2000 that in 2021 Microsoft would be positioning itself as the champion of creators and developers while Apple was being pilloried in Congress for being a monopolist... I would have probably flamed you on Slashdot?

Zac Bowden (via Steve Troughton-Smith):

The new store features policy changes that allows app developers to submit unpackaged Win32 apps, such as raw .exe and MSI applications.

Microsoft is also allowing app developers to use their own content delivery networks for app hosting and updates, meaning app updates no longer have to come directly from the Microsoft Store.

Finally, the company has announced that app developers can now use third-party commerce platforms, and Microsoft won’t take a revenue cut from apps that do.

Jay Peters:

But the deal has one important caveat: it doesn’t apply to games, Microsoft confirmed to The Verge.


Microsoft is largely on the side of apps and games being different because its bottom line depends on it. During the Epic trial, the company testified that it sells expensive Xbox hardware at a loss and makes its profits from the 30 percent cut it takes of game sales and subscriptions. But it also seemed like Microsoft was saying that PC games were different: the company recently announced that it would lower its cut of game revenues in the Microsoft Store from 30 to 12 percent starting on August 1st.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Microsoft opening up the Windows Store to any arbitrary exe file or installer URL has kicked off a mad rush for everybody to get their apps listed there — because why wouldn’t you be in the Store, now? It’ll rapidly become the first & only place most users look for software


Windows 11: ARM64EC

Marc Sweetgall:

ARM64EC is a new application binary interface (ABI) for Windows 11 on ARM that runs with native speed and is interoperable with x64. An app, process, or even a module can freely mix and match ARM64EC and x64 as needed. The ARM64EC code in the app will run natively while any x64 code will run using Windows 11 on ARM’s built-in emulation.


Traditionally, rebuilding an app for ARM has meant recompiling the entire app. The result is a great native experience for the customer that unlocks the full power of the ARM device. However, from a developer perspective, porting an app can be all-or-nothing, since all the binaries within a process need to be rebuilt before a customer can see the benefit.

With ARM64EC, you can choose to start small and build incrementally. You can identify a part of your codebase that would benefit most from native performance and rebuild it as ARM64EC. The rest of the app will remain fully functional as emulated x64, but the recompiled ARM64EC parts will now have native speed. Over time, you can recompile more of the app as ARM64EC to further improve performance and conserve battery life for your app’s customers.

Via Rosyna Keller:

Windows 11 is bringing back the Mixed Mode Manager!


Instead of allowing arbitrary ARM apps to load arbitrary x64 code in-process, the ARM app needs to have its ABI “massaged” to look more like the x64 ABI.


Windows 11 Announced

Panos Panay (Hacker News):

We’ve simplified the design and user experience to empower your productivity and inspire your creativity. It’s modern, fresh, clean and beautiful. From the new Start button and taskbar to each sound, font and icon, everything was done intentionally to put you in control and bring a sense of calm and ease. We put Start at the center and made it easier to quickly find what you need. Start utilizes the power of the cloud and Microsoft 365 to show you your recent files no matter what platform or device you were viewing them on earlier, even if it was on an Android or iOS device.

Windows has always been about helping you work how you want, by offering flexibility of multiple windows and the ability to snap apps side by side. New in Windows 11, we’re introducing Snap Layouts, Snap Groups and Desktops to provide an even more powerful way to multitask and stay on top of what you need to get done. These are new features designed to help you organize your windows and optimize your screen real estate so you can see what you need just the way you want in a layout that’s visually clean. You can also create separate Desktops for each part of your life and customize them to your liking – imagine having a Desktop for work, gaming or school.

John Gruber:

Microsoft is doing something very interesting with app icons — they’re using different shapes for each of them, rather than forcing them all into the exact same roundsquare shape. That’s an idea Apple should copy.

Nick Heer:

On the surface, it is more of an iterative update than any new version of Windows for a long time; it seems like, with Windows 10, Microsoft established a good foundation that does not require radical changes. At the time, Microsoft even went so far as to claim that Windows 10 would be the “last version of Windows”. Things change.

Ben Thompson:

Of course Windows remains essential software, with a billion-plus userbase of its own, and a critical part of the enterprise landscape in particular (although, as the company highlighted in the presentation, COVID re-established the importance of the PC for consumers as well). What gives Microsoft more freedom-of-movement, though, is that Windows is no longer the core of its business. This remains CEO Satya Nadella’s biggest triumph; I recounted how he shifted the company away from its Windows-centricity in 2018’s The End of Windows[…]


Microsoft, like Apple, is responding by doing what they do best, but, because it’s Microsoft, it’s the exact opposite of Apple: instead of more deeply integrating and doing everything themselves in an attempt to appeal to consumers, they are opening up and removing limitations in an attempt to appeal to developers, and by extension consumers who don’t want to be bound into Apple’s ecosystem.

Nilay Patel (via John Gruber):

We’ve got a special episode of Decoder today — I’m talking to Satya Nadella, the CEO and chairman of Microsoft.

Nick Heer:

Officially, Windows 11 is incompatible with processors in computers released starting just a few years ago, but even more recent models are going to be stuck on Windows 10.

Jack Wellborn:

As successful as Apple has been, they aren’t an immediate threat to Microsoft. Fundamentally, one is primarily a consumer technology company and the other is a business technology company. While each has tried to drink the other’s milkshake, neither has meaningfully succeeded. The biggest and most immediate threat to Windows is not anything made by Apple. It’s Chromebooks.


These aren’t features to lure Mac or iPad users to Windows. They are to keep Windows customers, consumers and businesses alike, from switching to Google.