Microsoft Launches Windows 10 Developer Tools Preview

Microsoft releases an initial preview of its tooling for developing universal apps on Windows 10.

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Microsoft has released a first preview of its Visual Studio 2015 tools for building Windows 10 apps.

The Windows 10 Technical Preview tools are available to Windows Insiders to use with Visual Studio 2015 CTP 6 and the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

"Windows 10 will be an exciting release for developers, with support for Windows universal apps that run across all Windows 10 devices and improved tooling for every Windows application type," said S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Developer Division, in a blog post about the new tooling.

Somasegar said developers can use the Windows 10 Technical Preview tools to create Windows universal apps with the new project templates in Visual Studio 2015 in a language of their choice—either C#, Visual Basic, C++ or JavaScript.

"With Windows 10, it is now possible to have a single universal app project that when deployed can run on all Windows 10 devices like PC, Phone, Tablet, or Xbox," Somasegar said. "However, just as on Windows 8.1, you still have the option to have multiple projects in your solution that you can tailor for functionality and form-factor exhibited by various devices running Windows 10 and can maximize code sharing across those projects using Shared projects."

To deploy apps built with this new preview version of the tools, users need to have the latest PC flight of Windows 10 installed. Yet, deploying the application to a phone running Windows 10 is not yet supported and will come in the future with a flight of a future release on Windows Phone. However, developers can experiment by deploying their app to the Windows 10 Phone emulator that is installed as a part of these tools. Also, support for other Windows 10 devices such as Xbox is not yet available in this preview.

"Our goal with this release is to give you the opportunity to experiment with the cool new platform capabilities while we continue working to finish Windows 10," said Cliff Simpkins, a product manager for the Windows developer platform, on the Microsoft Windows Blog.

Simpkins also pointed out four key features in the preview release of the tools: Adaptive UX, user controls, API contracts and the Visual Studio tooling improvements Somasegar described.

Regarding user experience (UX), Windows 10 provides the ability to use a single UI that can adapt from small to large screens. Developers with an existing Windows 8.1 app "can quickly try this one out by (a) removing one of your UI projects (and going from three Visual Studio projects to one!) and (b) add the improved ViewStateManager to control how your UI adapts at runtime," Simpkins said.

He also said a number of Microsoft's Windows 10 UI controls will determine, at runtime, how the customer is interacting with a developer's app and render the appropriate user experience.

Also, with Windows 10, developers can directly verify if a Windows feature is available rather than inferring based on the operating system version. This enables developers to begin checking, at runtime, if a Windows feature is available on the device before they call a related API. Simpkins said a good API contract for developers to try out in their code to see this in action is HardwareButtons, which is present on phones—via the Mobile Extensions SDK, and thus available on the phone and mobile emulator but not available on the desktop.