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Feb082018

Microsoft Bringing Progressive Web Apps to Store with Next Windows 10 Release

Taking a step ahead into reality from vision Microsoft is getting ready to support Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) in the Microsoft Store as of Windows 10 Redstone 4.

To this end, Microsoft shared some updates on previewing PWAs in Windows along with the roadmap to bring PWAs to the Microsoft Store. That said, the company will be kicking off some experimental PWAs from the Web with crawling and indexing quality in the Microsoft Store, so users can find them just like any other app—”over the coming weeks.”

PWAs basically powered by Web technologies behave like native apps, Or, technically speaking, “they are progressively enhanced web apps that provide app-like experience and powered by modern web technologies, such as [Service Worker, Fetch networking, Cache API, Push notifications, and Web App Manifest].”

And, unlike “packaged” web app, these PWAs are hosted on your servers and can be “updated without issuing new updates to an app store.” Additionally, web standards, like Service Worker enable interoperable ways to implement push notifications, support for offline scenarios, background refreshing, and more, without platform-specific code.

Outlining its plan of getting PWAs into Windows 10 and Edge browser, Microsoft says, because it’s making PWAs a first-class app citizens in the Windows Store—any device running EdgeHTML 17 will get full access to the technologies and characteristics of PWAs. So, a “user will be able to engage fully with an installed PWA—from discovery, to installation, to execution—without ever opening the browser.”

In the next release of Windows 10, the company intend to begin listing PWAs in the Microsoft Store. PWAs in the Store will be packaged as an AppX in Windows 10 and be able to run in their own sandboxed container.

These PWAs when installed via the store will appear in “app” contexts like Start and Cortana search results, and have access to the full suite of WinRT APIs available to UWP apps.

It also benefits developers, as they can proactively submit PWAs to the Microsoft Store, and will automatically index by Bing crawler.

To generate an AppX with a PWA, developers can use free PWA Builder tool. By publishing manually to Dev Center account, devs also have option including promotion and distribution in the Microsoft Store for Business and Education.

Microsoft will enable Service Worker, Push, and other technologies by default when EdgeHTML17 ships to stable builds of Windows 10. However, it said, dev can get started testing PWA in Microsoft Edge today by downloading a recent build of Windows 10 via the Windows Insider Program, or using a free VM.

Additionally, devs can will also be able to get insight into their users with channels like reviews and ratings in the Store, analytics on installs, uninstalls, shares, and performance, and more. It also provides more natural and discoverable access to your web experience on devices where the browser is a less natural entry point, such as Xbox, Windows Mixed Reality, and other non-PC form factors.

Microsoft said, they will ramp up automatic indexing in the Microsoft Store from a few initial candidates to a broader sample in the coming months. And, offers quality signals they will consider to include them as candidates:

  • Web App Manifests should suggest quality—non-boilerplate manifests that include a name, description, and at least one icon that is larger than 512px square.
  • Sites should be secure with access to Service Worker family of APIs requires an HTTPS connection on Windows and other platforms.
  • Service Workers should be an enhancement…get started building a basic Service Worker with PWA Builder; Mozilla also has great recipes if you are looking for somewhere to start.
  • Sites should consider automated testing for quality…use tools like sonarwhal, Lighthouse, aXe, and more.
  • PWAs must be compliant with Microsoft Store policies.

The screen shot below summarizes Microsoft process of crawling and indexing selected PWAs from the web to be available as apps in the Microsoft Store:

Diagram- crawl and index selected PWAs from the web to be available as apps in the Microsoft Store

Microsoft on PWA or UWP notes, that in fact on Windows 10, the Universal Windows Platform fully embraces Progressive Web Apps, because EdgeHTML is a foundational component of UWP.

Lastly, the upcoming Microsoft’s Teams client app, is going to be a PWA.

You can watch this video for more on PWAs:

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