back to article Hey, Microsoft, we can call Windows 10 apps anything we like – you're NOT OUR REAL MOM

You can forget about Universal Apps, we're not supposed to use that term from now on. When Windows 10 arrives, what Microsoft has so far been calling Universal Apps will be known as "Windows apps." That bombshell comes from Microsoft distinguished engineer Don Box, who spoke about the past and present of Windows at the WinHEC …

  1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    ...and the marketing drones cometh. Rebrand. Refresh. Recycle. Must have a new mission statement and whatever happens just make it look like something has changed.

    Q: What do you call it when there's a marketing drone on the moon?

    A: A problem

    Q: What do you call it when there's ten marketing drones on the moon?

    A: A serious problem

    Q: What do you call it when all the marketing drones are on the moon?

    A: Problem solved

    1. MrT

      Bill Hicks had something to say to people who work in marketing...

    2. N13L5

      marketing drones

      Its all about forcing the Microshuft app store as sole distribution avenue and the 30% Microcruft tax to be collected on every sale from developers/customers, whichever of the two ends up getting snipped for that money.

  2. Eddy Ito

    in fact, even Windows 8 will not run them unless users take advantage of a free upgrade to Windows 10.

    How's that again? Isn't that kind of like saying XP won't run them unless folks pay for an upgrade to Windows 10? I mean the old OS isn't actually running them the new OS is, no?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The thing is, Win8 does run apps now. But apparently it won't be able to run THIS KIND of app. So, everyone will call them the same thing and try to buy them in the same place, but some of those apps won't run on Win8.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        And also by the same criteria, Win7 will happily run them if you take the free upgrade to Win10 (it's offered to Win7 users as well).

        Wouldn't it have been easier and clearer just to say that you need Win10 to run the damn things, but users of Win7 and later can get that for free within the first year of Win10 release? Or is the article trying to be as obscure and confusing as Microsoft was in the original presentation?

      2. dogged

        > everyone will call them the same thing and try to buy them in the same place

        I doubt that that Windows Store software is stupid enough to allow W10 apps to be bought and downloaded on Win8.x

        They might call them the same thing but they won't be buying them unless they can run them.

  3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Universal Apps?

    Can't use them?

    Ok how about

    Universal Craps?

  4. gort

    who can know whether Microsoft will remake its app platform yet again in a couple of years?

    Everybody, because of course they will.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      With Multiversal Apps!

      Includes reinforced String Theory, p-branes and Schrödinger's Nyancat!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Windows Hardware Engineering Conference"

    CTL+ALT+DEL ... See you next year!

  6. Beornfrith

    The company that gave us TIFKAM now gives us TAFKAU - The Apps Formerly Known As Universal.

  7. Midnight

    Well, yes, that's a Windows app, but it's not a Windows app. Some Windows apps are Windows apps while others are Windows apps, unless you're talking about Windows apps. Then you've got Windows apps, which are a whole different kind of Windows app, but certainly not Windows apps.

    Sigh. Windows apps are used to being beast of burden to other people's needs. Very sad life. Probably have very sad death. But, at least there is symmetry.

    1. Someone Else Silver badge


      Please see icon --->

    2. Dave Lawton


      Upvote for the excellent B5 Z reference.

    3. Ged T


      No, no, no. Tuk! Are you Midnight or are you Zanthros or are you actually, Zanthros?

    4. N13L5


      Windows used to be there to take care of people's actual needs.

      Now its there purely for Microcruft's corporate strategic goals which change every three months.

      There is no better way to tank computer sales and send people looking for less precarious platforms to use, even if pickings are slim.

  8. asdf


    .Net, Silverlight, WinRT, be fearful when Microsoft tells you what the future is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Remember?

      Where did .NET go? Did miss something?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Remember?

        I'll tell you where .Net went; some piss awful bit of HR self-evaluation application, that's where. Crap attracts crap

      3. asdf

        Re: Remember?

        All that talk was MFC was going to die and all windows apps would be written in .Net and WPF. Funny thing was Microsoft never did really do so completely with any of their products so few others did commercially as well. Sure a lot of places will use it in the backend like Java for years to come and even for internal GUI app development but .Net was supposed to be the technology Microsoft was betting the company on. Metro and WinRT just empathized managed code will never be very deep in the core of Windows unlike say COM even all these years later.

  9. LDS Silver badge

    And it's just funny that a lot of "desktop" apps...

    ... are and will be "server" ones...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And it's just funny that a lot of "desktop" apps...

      will be "server" ones...

      Erm... we're talking about Windows, here.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: And it's just funny that a lot of "desktop" apps...

        If you didn't notice, there's some good and powerful sever versions of Windows available... unless the last version you used was 3.1 or 95 and never cared to upgrade your knowledge in the past twenty years.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I was using windows 10 and a "windows app" on a machine I clearly don't care about and it asked me to click a link. Did I get "windows app" internet explorer sorry whatever it is called these days. No I got old fashioned aids Internet explorer so they need to rethink this whole idea where "windows apps" can and will often take you into legacy window apps because they are dependent on them

  11. Someone Else Silver badge

    Uhhh...let me hear you say, "Duh!"

    The style of software you've known and loved and/or hated isn't going away any time soon. "On PCs we still continue to support the two-decades plus of Windows desktop applications," Box emphasized.

    Of course they will. Not even Microsoft (which has a long and stored history of saying and doing some really brain-dead things...remember the "the internet is just a fad" pronouncement, anyone?) would be that stupid as to cut off "real" Windows applications.

  12. Vector

    Self Contained Package vs Loose Files or MSI

    I remember when the "Loose Files" first started appearing and why. It was to limit code redundancy since many applications could use the same libraries. Of course, the flaw was that your application needed a particular version of that library and, as time went on, was less and less likely to find it already on the system (or you were less and less likely to trust the versioning), so you had to bring it along yourself.

    Of course, now that memory and storage are no longer an issue, make 'em all self-contained! (ahem)

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Self Contained Package vs Loose Files or MSI

      Large programs take advantage of not being monolithic for several reasons:

      1) Better distributed development/testing efforts, and code reuse among *your* applications

      2) Only required modules can be sold/deployed, added/removed anytime, loaded in memory only when needed, and unloaded (i.e. to be replaced without stopping the whole application).

      3) Patching doesn't require to redeploy a whole very large application

      "Apps", whatever they are named, can be monolithic because right now they are often simpler, and with reduced functionalities compared to "desktop" ones. As soon as they get more complex, the need to "modularize" them will arise again.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Terminology

      and files are stored in directories

      Actually the files sequences of block-of-bytes are stored inreferenced from indexed spaces, which, to the undiscerning punter, may look like a hierarchical structure.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Boothy Silver badge

          Re: Terminology

          @ 1980s_coder



          1. breakfast








    2. Paul Shirley

      Re: Terminology

      Wow, you're right, computers do indeed run programs. Some of those programs interpret scripts. Some of them were interpreting scripts long before the 80's.

      I also remember using more descriptive terms like OS,game & application back in the 70's more often than 'program'. We were still arguing about the correct spelling of that one back then. 'Script' had to wait for the 80's... I wrote a lot of scripts building data for games back then. Didn't right many 'programs'...

      1. Richard Plinston

        Re: Terminology

        > 'Script' had to wait for the 80's...

        Before that they were job card packs.

        > Didn't right many 'programs'..

        It that recovering a program that went 'belly up' ?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its only UNIVERSAL if it runs on ALL Devices.

    Win 32/64 .exe = Windows PROGRAM - (To become known as Windows Desktop Program / App)

    Win 8 App = METRO APP (TIFKAM) - dont worry there are only a hand full of these.

    Windows 10 App = Windows 10 APP - (to be known as just Windows app when Windows 15 comes out)

    Android App = Android APP

    iOS APP = iOS APP

    HTML 5 APP = UNIVERSAL APP (as should run on any system with an HTML 5 compatible browser)

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Its only UNIVERSAL if it runs on ALL Devices.

      When "HTML" apps will get rid of the concept of "page", "previous page", "next page" they will get the right to be called "applications" or "programs". Until then they are just a bunch of document definition tags and scripts cobbled together to try to do something useful.

      1. captain veg

        Re: Its only UNIVERSAL if it runs on ALL Devices.

        > When "HTML" apps will get rid of the concept of "page", "previous page", "next page" they will get the right to be called "applications" or "programs".

        See "Single Page Application". They're all the rage, you know.


  15. Palpy

    The Win 32 API has huge significance.

    Obviously. Huge application base using it. It's also a continuing security PITA. One researcher wrote,

    "The fact that windows and other GUI elements are not securable is perhaps the biggest flaw in the Windows security model. It’s a result of maintaining backwards compatibility with pre-NT editions where security wasn’t really considered in system’s design. By default, processes running as different users can affect each other by using various windows messages. Any GUI process can potentially spoof things like password input boxes because raw access to the desktop is not restricted – if an application can show its window, it can draw anything on the desktop. Clipboard is shared between all processes belonging to an interactive window station. Processes can synthesize keyboard and mouse input in a way that can affect other processes. Basically, it’s a mess." *

    My understanding is that the Uni-App model is in part intended to sandbox apps in order to alleviate some of the inherited flaws of the Win 32 API.

    * This is an excerpt from "A crack on the glass" by Rafał Wojdyła.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: The Win 32 API has huge significance.

      Sadly, many of those "flaws" are exactly what makes Windows applications usable. The clipboard needs to be shared, or how do you exchange data across applications?

      Sending messages and input to different processes is subject to User Interface Privilege Isolation since Vista.

      Processes that "syntehtize" keyboard and mouse inputs are useful 1) to assist people with disabilities 2) virtual keyboards 3) automated testing applications (even X has support for that). Anyway you need the proper rights to achieve it.

      Desktops *are* "securable objects" (see just most application would stop working properly if secure desktops were used, because a lot of "Windows" developers learned coding for 3.1/95 and have no clue about Windows security. Even most password input boxes could be eliminated if developers had learned to use Windows AD and how to integrate their applications in its security model.

      Raw access to the "desktop" happens in browsers as well - where injecting code you can easily overlay what you like over the "real" site - clickjacking & C, anyone? Sure, get rid of the GUI and you're much safer, restrict system to only one application running like in DOS and you're even safer...

  16. Gordon 11

    In contrast with.....???

    If they can't write English I can ignore their definitions.

  17. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

    What do you call it when a marketing drone is buried up to his neck in sand?

    Not enough sand

  18. GitMeMyShootinIrons

    Oh no!

    I was planning on a game that had you driving around the galaxy in a small, souped up 1980's hatchback. I was going to call it "Universal Modern Metro".

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Oh no!

      What about

      Thouroughly Modern Metro

      Coat, far too long a week.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows App for all New windows Programs?

    so can we expect all "NEW" Microsoft software (sorry apps) to now be Windows apps (IE the new ones)

    So Microsoft Office 2016 is rumoured to be coming out this year can we expect a full fat full featured version to be launched as a "Windows APP" or will it still be a win 32 "Program" and a crippled cut down version as a "windows APP"

    if the new apps allow "sand boxing" and security i hope all the apps included as a default in windows like, snipping tool, notepad, cmd, paint, sticky note, sound recorder, windows dvd maker, windows fax and scan, windows media player, photo gallery, chess, freecell, hearts, ETC, and new "Apps" like Spartan Will ALL be "Windows APPS" and not win32 programs and will not be tied to the OS so we can delete them or even better choose NOT to install them in the first place.

    NEED A Minimal Windows core OS with everything else ( Utilities, Applications, Features) as add on package or "APP"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows App for all New windows Programs?

      "Small is beautiful." Now where have I heard that before?

      [Not to be partisan as I've used pretty much everything at one time or another. I do like minimalism. Less to go wrong. And that's pure engineering practice.]

  20. SVV

    Please, please market it this way MS

    Introducing new Windows Apps, not to be confused with Windows Desktop Apps, although you can run Windows Apps on the Windows Desktop if you want to - you just can't run Windows Desktop Apps on Windows devices that only run Windows Apps.

    And to all you software developers who invested time and money building stuff for Windows 8, errrm sorry about all that, hope you didn't lose too much, please support our new world of confusion and non compatability, thank you.

    1. John Styles

      Re: Please, please market it this way MS

      And to all you software developers who invested time and money building stuff for Windows 8, errrm sorry about all that, hope you didn't lose too much, please support our new world of confusion and non compatability, thank you.

      And I too feel sorry for them - both of them - shall we have a whip round and take them out for a pint to commiserate?

    2. Richard Plinston

      Re: Please, please market it this way MS

      > our new world of confusion and non compatability,

      It is not a 'new world'. Windows Mobile 6.5 apps (and devices) were killed off by Windows Phone 7. WP7 apps (and devices) were mostly killed off by WP8 (though there was some conversion which may have worked). Now 'Windows apps' are different again.

  21. John Sanders

    Care to elaborate...

    As to why do we have to pay attention to Microsoft each time they fart?

    Seriously. This was funny the first few times.

    They should stop this universal crap nonsense once and for all. There is a reason no other vendor tries, in the end it doesn't work.

    Jokes aside ElReg (or someone else for that matter) should stop producing articles about MS Bob and compile a list of all "programming things" MS has pitched as the next best thing and later abandoned, leaving a trace of dead bodies on their path.

  22. Ged T

    WOW32 + WOW64 + AOW + UAOW + ...

    So, will Windows 10 simply be a collection of compatibility layers?

  23. rcp27

    Yes, Zathras understand ... No, Zathras not understand

  24. Stevie Silver badge


    This all sounds like one more reason not to buy into Windows 10.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah!

      I had already reached that conclusion. Nothing there for my uses. I'm off to server-land.

  25. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Yeah, nonsense

    Yeah, I do think it's some nonsense to refer to Windows 10-only tablet+PC (no phone yet apparently!) apps as "Windows apps." INCREDIBLY confusing, and the kind of move that indicates to me marketing is completely taking over a company.

  26. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    MS is being their usual clueless selves.

  27. adfh

    Oh lord....

    Remember NT stood for "New Technology"... then it didn't...

    Remember Metro? Don't call it Metro...

    Remember Universal Apps? Don't call them Universal Apps..

    Seriously... what's the value in rebranding something after people learn what it is? Who are they? VMware (Server.. ESX.. ESXi.. Sphere.. Cloud.. gaaah what the hell?)

  28. HAL-9000

    "What is a Windows app? One that runs on Windows – and for most people that means a PC"

    Sounds very much like the redmond wonks are playing ontological gymnastics in a form of wish fullfillment - The power of positive thinking and M$ really are a player in the mobile market right?

  29. asdf

    I love how they think by pushing developers into making apps mostly written for the desktop have the possibility to run on their mobile platforms, WP market share will suddenly not be a rounding error. At least the CEO has a plan B by accepting he is going to have to get at least some of his apps and services on Android/iOS.

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