If you’re not familiar, Progressive Web Apps are a modern approach to design apps. Essentially, these are web apps with features that make them behave pretty much like native apps. Some of these features can include push notifications, background data refresh, offline support, and more.
Starting with the Redstone 4 update, Windows 10 will include support for Progressive Web Apps thanks to EdgeHTML 17, which is the rendering engine behind Edge that enables Service Workers, Push, Cache APIs, and other technologies to allow this new type of apps to run in the desktop.
Users will be able to download and install these apps from the Microsoft Store. Microsoft will be using its search engine, Bing, to crawl and index web apps already available in the internet. The company says that it has already identified more than 1.5 million candidates, and adding these will help the Store to provide consumers more apps.
In addition, a new PWA Builder tool will become available to allow developers to submit their web apps manually. The new tool will be able to convert a project into an “appx” package, which can then be submitted as regular application through the Developer Center to get publish in the Microsoft Store — if it meets all the requirements.
The software maker also notes that the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) already fully embraces Progressive Web Apps as EdgeHTML is an essential component of UWP.
Moving forward developers will need to consider both options when building their applications. However, Microsoft recommends to take the UWP route only if native features are required for the application. Otherwise, the PWA approach should be used as they’re easier to build and deploy.
Also, unlike native apps, Progressive Web Apps aren’t hosted in the Microsoft servers, instead they’re hosted on the developer’s infrastructure. This means more flexibility to publish updates without having to go through the Store process. In Addition, because these apps are built using web technologies, they can run across platforms, not just on Windows 10.
While Microsoft is just now unveiling its strategy, the company has already been testing this new support in recent previews of the Windows Insider Program. And even though, we haven’t seen any web app yet, Microsoft says that soon it’ll start bringing these apps to the Store.