Microsoft’s cross-platform ambitions are not hidden to anyone. In yet another sign of that, the Redmond company has now announced the public preview of its app porting solution, Windows Bridge (Project Islandwood) for iOS. Along with that, the android version also hits Private Beta.
Windows Bridge for iOS, as announced by Microsoft in its Build conference last year, seeks to facilitate apps porting from iOS to Windows. The code for ‘Windows Bridge for iOS’ has been made accessible as an open-source project on GitHub under the MIT license.
One thing to bear in mind while using the app is that it will not run like a dream, at least at this stage. It’s a first step into what has hitherto been pretty much uncharted territory and quite predictably, has it’s share of bugs and things that need to be fixed. Speaking on the topic, Kevin Gello said,
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.
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.
That said, the Bridge will enable developers to port their existing iOS apps to Windows 8.1 and 10. Microsoft also hopes to bring the feature to ARM soon, which could mean a potential flood of iOS apps for the Windows mobile platform, which has largely been an app-starved store ever since its launch . Speaking on the topic, Salmaan Ahmed, product manager at Microsoft, explained the idea behind the Bridge,
Our goal with the iOS bridge has never been simply to run iOS apps on Windows, Rather, our goal is to help you write great Windows apps that use as much of your existing code and knowledge as possible.
The app allows iOS developers to bring their existing skills into play and code apps for the Windows platform. What’s more, the app also comes fully ingratiated with Visual Studio 2015, thus providing the advantages of a fantastic simulation environment as well.
Also, Windows Bridge isn’t like you usual porting applications. Its a hard-core app development environment, providing you complete access to the full Windows API. There’s also no sandboxing, which means you would be able to run both your iOS, as well as your Windows app simultaneously for testing and bug-detection.
And while devs might not have really wanted this prior to Windows 10’s universal platform release, the porting is now pretty much a necessity, considering how Windows 10 is now a universal platform for all of Microsoft’s devices, including the desktops, which continue to account for over 60% of the total market..
This way, the developers can simply take a lot of their old code, add something here, take something out there and Voila! You have a ready-for-Windows app on your hands. The move should certainly — with a lot of work — bring along a whole host of apps to the Windows toting PCs. However, the day that ARM support is also integrated, is when the full potential of the ‘Bridge’ will actually be realized.