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Porting Win32 Applications to Windows 10 with VS15

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Project Centennial represents one of Microsoft's efforts to make the migration of existing Win32 applications to the Windows 10 Universal Windows Platform (UWP) easier.  Microsoft desires to have Windows 10 replace all previous Windows editions on the desktop, but in order to be truly successful they need to offer the apps users want.  However, given the incredible longevity of the traditional Win32 platform, most developers have a significant investment in their current code bases which can make them reluctant to switch to a UWP app.

Microsoft hopes to make this transition from Win32 to UWP much easier with Project Centennial.  As InfoQ has previously described this tool allows developers to port an existing Win32 application to app with little to no code modification.  Developers can then incorporate Windows 10 specific features over time, rather than committing to a potentially significant rewrite upfront.  Developers looking to investigate the possibilities of porting their application can do so with a Windows 10 system running Insider Build 14342, Visual Studio “15” Preview 2, and Project Centennial installed.

Assuming this foundation has been installed, a new extension for Visual Studio “15” has been released which can make the Win32-to-UWP pipeline a bit smoother.  As Microsoft’s Pete Faraday states, this extension will cause changes made to the Win32 binaries in VS “15” to be also transferred to the UWP package and make debugging the resulting package possible from within VS “15”.

Note that by default using Project Centennial will send telemetry data to Microsoft so that they may investigate how it is used and improve the tool but this can be disabled if desired.  Faraday also indicates that Project Centennial support for non .EXE or .MSI based projects is not currently available but is in the product backlog for future development.

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