Project Reunion To Fix The Windows Divide That Never Should Have Been
Written by Mike James   
Wednesday, 20 May 2020

BUILD is underway and it's not so much developers, developers developers as it used to be, but it is still of interest. Perhaps the most important announcement is project Reunion, an initiative that could repair the long-term damage to the Windows development environment and community.

Even if you are one of the many Microsoft haters, this story should make you weep - perhaps with tears of joy. The self-inflicted wound that was, and is, UWP, WinRT, Metro - you know there is a presentational problem when the names transmute so often - is getting some healing attention.

The many names of the technology give you a clue as to the difficulties that come with it. Invented on the unreasoned decision of one Microsoft executive and forced upon all and sundry ever since. It wasn't a decision motivated by technology, but by ambition. Why someone at Microsoft didn't point out that it already had one of the best development environments you could wish for, in the form of .NET and the rest, I've no idea. My guess is that they did say it, but were drowned out by the marketing and management noise.

springfield

An example of the new UI at work - Is Springfield a choice that is trying to convey a hidden message? Is this a "I am a prisoner in a software machine - help!" message?

Of course, the rationale was that UWP would be needed for mobile development - it wasn't and after Window Phone failed it became even more obvious that the new technology was unfinished and unwanted. It has also been clear that UWP was not going to become a single dominant Windows API and Microsoft had saddled itself with even more software to maintain and develop.

Now we have Project Reunion designed to reunite that which should never have been split:

"For the past couple of years, we have been breaking down the barrier between Win32 (also called the Windows API) and Universal Windows Platform (UWP) APIs. Project Reunion expands this effort to make it easier to build a great Windows app. It will unify access to existing Win32 and UWP APIs and make them available decoupled from the OS, via tools like NuGet. This will provide a common platform for new apps. Plus, it will help you update and modernize your existing apps with the latest functionality, whether they’re C++, .NET (including WPF, Windows Forms, and UWP) or React Native. As we decouple existing APIs and add new APIs, we are also doing the work to polyfill, as needed, so the APIs work down-level across supported versions of Windows."

Now to my ears this doesn't sound too good. The news I had hoped for was that UWP was declared deprecated and the new emphasis was on good core Microsoft technologies that made developers, developers developers respond with Windows, Windows, Windows.

I've nothing against other technologies - I really love Python, Kotlin, Rust and even C. I don't mind JavaScript and I don't mind slumming it with React, but none of this means I can't recognize good design from Microsoft when I see it - .NET, C# and WPF were/are simple, powerful, regular and clean.

What I am trying to say is that Microsoft still seems to lack vision  and prefers everyone else's vision to its own - unification yes, but unified to what exactly?

The biggest piece of information provided is that there is to be a new WebView2. Great, but WebView is a component in a bigger picture, not something to present to the waiting world as a big step forward.

Project Reunion just emphasizes the fact that, since Windows 8, Microsoft has created the problem of a lost generation. The move to .NET Core was a good idea, but it has taken so long to just get back to where we were and right now we still aren't quite there. Project Reunion is yet more travelling to get back to where we were.

So much lost time. So much wasted software development.

When and if Microsoft ever emerges from the mess created by mismanagement at the technical level, the real question is will there be anyone left around to take an interest. 

 unification

More Information

Unifying app development across the billion Windows 10 devices

https://github.com/microsoft/ProjectReunion

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Windows 8 - The Desktop Destroyer

Microsoft's WP7 push - developers, developers, developers

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 May 2020 )