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Microsoft shows off Windows updates at Build dev event

Amazon Appstore preview goes wider, plus Windows on Arm platform with Neural Processing Units – Project Volterra

Microsoft Build Windows still rules the enterprise, and among all the Azure and Power Platform action during Microsoft's annual Build event for developers, the company had news for users of its flagship operating system.

The first followed this week's revelation that Windows Subsystem for Android is now running on Android Open Source Project (AOSP) 12.1, and concerns the Amazon Appstore preview.

After an inexplicable delay, Microsoft is finally adding countries on top of the US. Users in France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the UK will by the end of the year be able to join in previewing the Amazon Appstore, although there appears to still be no official way to get access to apps outside of those brought to Windows 11 via Amazon.

Ever keen to get developers on-side when it comes to Microsoft Store, the Windows giant also announced the removal of the waitlist program for Win32 apps. "Any app," it said, "that runs on Windows, including C++, WinForms, WPF, MAUI, React, Rust, Flutter and Java, is welcome in the Microsoft Store."

(The Store is less popular than its rivals, but nonetheless Microsoft boasted of a 50 percent year-on-year growth in desktop apps and games for the first quarter of this year. It would not, however, confirm the number those apps have grown to.)

While the Microsoft Ad Monetization platform for Windows UWP apps was shut down in 2020, at Build 2022 Microsoft announced "Microsoft Store Ads." Flagged as "coming soon" the tech, powered by Microsoft Advertising, will "help developers surface their apps to the right user at the right time, and to help users discover new experiences."

Windows on Arm

Also demonstrating that there remains life in Windows on Arm, Microsoft announced Project Volterra, hardware for programmers that's powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon compute platform; it's meant to enable the development of local AI-accelerated workloads on Arm-compatible devices. The platform's integrated Neural Processing Units (NPUs) are all the rage, and Microsoft reckons the tech will turn up in pretty much every computing device in the future.

Microsoft didn't want to reveal too much information about Volterra (it "will share more details at a later date" was the boilerplate comment), we can but hope it has more horsepower than the Snapdragon 7c-powered QC710 Arm desktop of 2021.

More interesting is the "end to end Arm-native toolchain for Arm native apps" also announced. Visual Code and Windows Terminal are cross-platform by design, however, Visual Studio 2022 running natively on Arm is an altogether more intriguing prospect, particularly considering how long it took to arrive in 64-bit guise.

A preview of it, and other eyebrow raising components, such the "classic" .NET Framework, are due "in the next few weeks." ®

More from Build

  • Microsoft also announced a private preview of its Dev Box workstations, which are virtualized and hosted in Azure. It also teased Azure Deployment Environments.
  • The Windows giant showed off a preview of Power Pages, a low-code tool for building websites.
  • And in a set of Power Platform updates, Redmond introduced express design in Power Apps: an AI-powered tool for creating web and mobile apps from sketches of user interface designs, web forms, PDFs, and so on.

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