Flutter flits onto Windows, declared fit for production

Google's take on cross-platform development arrives on Microsoft's desktop

Google's cross-platform app framework Flutter has hit version 2.1 and added production support for apps on Windows.

Flutter first turned up in Alpha form just under five years ago, aimed at speeding up development on mobile operating systems. Apps are written in the Dart language and should run on Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux, the web, and embedded devices, with little effort required to ready code for each target.

Desktop support turned up last year, although the framework was dogged by complaints of poor performance. Google pointed out that desktop support was a work in progress.

Today, however, Google declared Flutter for Windows was ready for a production release.

Microsoft has fiddled with cross-platform coding for years, with the software giant regularly moving the goalposts to stop developers getting too comfortable. Its support for Google's take on the subject might therefore raise an eyebrow or two.

Kevin Gallo, veep for Windows Developer Platform at Microsoft, expressed his delight at the arrival of support for Windows apps in Flutter, commenting: "Windows is an open platform, and we welcome all developers. We're excited to see Flutter developers bring their experiences to Windows and also publish to the Microsoft Store."

While Google's post was light on mentions of Microsoft favourites, such as .Net or C#, it did note that the Dart language extension for Visual Studio Code had been downloaded more than four million times and highlighted packages that could be used to give bring the look and feel of Microsoft's Fluent Design System to Windows apps.

As with Android and iOS, Flutter's Windows incarnation consists of a Dart framework and C++ engine. Going full Windows also means access to Win32, COM and the Windows Runtime APIs "either directly through Dart's C interop layer, or using a platform plugin written in C++". However, should you target Windows' private parts, then there is every chance you could also give up on the full cross-platform promise of Flutter.

Other common plug-ins, such as that for the camera, have been updated and the whole lot can be packaged, via the msix packaging tool, in an installer suitable for the Windows Store.

"Together this fosters creation of apps that look great on Windows, run fast on Windows, and still transfer to other desktop or mobile devices," wrote Google's product manager for Flutter, Tim Sneath, in his announcement of the Windows release.

Sounds an awful lot like Microsoft's plans for Xamarin. ®

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