New Release: Compatibility Containers for UWP and Windows Store for Business

Cloudhouse are pleased to announce support for Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and Windows Store for Business, for the first time businesses will be able to publish their business applications to their users through the Store onto Windows 10/10 S devices without changing the application’s source code.

Microsoft vision is to make adoption of modern operating systems, apps and devices far smoother in future, preventing the hurdles many organizations have faced transitioning from Windows XP to Windows 7. Microsoft’s goal is for:

  • Devices to be managed with InTune
  • Apps to work across a range of devices, and operating systems, with UWP
  • Apps available to corporate users through Windows Store for Business

The recently launched Windows 10 S is the ultimate expression of the future app strategy from Microsoft. Windows 10 S improves security by preventing malicious apps from being installed on devices by restricting users to only UWP apps that have been verified, signed, and delivered from the Store. The requirements of UWP allows Windows to remain evergreen, and avoid the rot that crept in the past from locally installed applications.

Cloudhouse Compatibilty Containers enable Windows XP and 7 line of business applications, that are incompatible with Windows 10/ 10 S and the new UWP, to be packaged using the Auto Packager on its existing operating system e.g. Windows XP, and then converted to the new UWP format using Microsoft’s Desktop Converter. Once published to the business’ private store, applications can be made available to users on Windows 10/10 S devices. Cloudhouse’s Redirection and Compatibilty Engine provides a self contained run-time, and the redirections and isolations required to enable Win32 applications, and their run-times, to run on Windows 10/10 S overcoming the restrictions of UWP without requiring changes to the application’s source code.

What is UWP and Microsoft Store for Business

UWP is the future of apps on the Windows platform, replacing the Win32 format, and just as we’ve all become accustomed to app stores in our personal lives, Microsoft sees the future of application delivery through its Windows Store for Business. IT decision makers and administrators will have a flexible way to source, acquire, manage, and distribute free and paid apps in select markets to Windows 10 devices, limiting what apps the user can install – preventing shadow-IT and malicious applications from spreading within their organization. Admins can:

  • Assign apps to employees to control what apps they can install
  • Can distribute apps to users with management tools
  • Enable users to serve themselves

How do you get your apps to UWP and the Windows Store for Business

Figure 1: Store for Business with Snag-It v4.3 for Windows XP /7 published as a UWP app even though it is incompatible with Windows 10 and UWP.

To get to UWP and the Windows Store for Business, Microsoft have provided the Desktop Bridge Converter to enable classic Win32 apps to be converted to UWP, but businesses face two significant challenges that block the adoption of this new platform. The first, is the app must be compatible with Windows 10/10S, the second, in order to package it into the UWP format using Desktop Converter it must comply with the rules of the UWP platform. Some examples of the problems that these legacy apps may encounter are provided below, and a full list of changes required to adopt UWP are detailed in preparing to package an app

  • App currently requires elevated security privileges
  • App writes to the install directory, or an AppData folder with the intention of sharing data with another app
  • App modifies the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE (HKLM) registry hive

And herein lies the challenges for your business, what if your line of business app doesn’t run on Windows 10, and it breaks the requirements of UWP?

Changing the code isn’t an option

For businesses with homegrown, or heavily customized off the shelf apps, changing the source code is rarely an option. Many business apps are fully integrated into business processes, and the systems that they support. Businesses can rarely update, or change these apps because of the associated costs / risk of downtime, or they simply don’t have the development staff or budget to change the systems.

Cloudhouse Compatibility Containers

Enterprise customers with stalled Windows 10 projects have already turned to Cloudhouse Compatibility Containers to unblock the rollout of their devices. Faced with similar rewrite challenges for UWP and Windows Store for Business, they can now overcome the requirements of UWP enabling them to use Desktop Converter – all without changing the source code.

How Cloudhouse does it

Cloudhouse provides an Auto Packager that takes any application, and creates a Compatibility Container on the operating system the app works on today, for example Windows XP, and using install / capture and runtime analysis it includes the required application files, registry and run-times. The compatibility and redirection engine enables the application to run on Windows 10 while isolating the runtimes and prerequisites required to run the application without conflicting with other applications that may already be installed. The compatibility and redirection also enables the app to overcome restrictions imposed by UWP without changing the source code of the app. The Container is then simply converted to UWP with Microsoft’s Desktop Bridge Converter to create the Appx file required for publishing in the Store, overcoming challenges like

  • An app that always runs with elevated security privileges can be run with least privilege
  • An app that writes to the install directory, or a shared AppData folder, can be redirected to the user’s roaming profile location
  • Apps that modify the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE (HKLM) registry hive will automatically use HKEY_CURRENT_USER (HKCU)

Cloudhouse enables businesses to move their apps to Windows Store for Business at the same time they rollout Windows 10/10 S.

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I am Priya Saxena, a supermom, virtualization enthusiast and a developer by heart. I started my career 11 years ago as a passionate engineering graduate