Which Windows UI framework is the best fit for single executable application

Harshithraj1871 1,516 Reputation points
2023-05-26T06:36:55.2266667+00:00

Hi,

We are building a reliable application that runs in the market for 10 to 15 years. We want to build a C++ Desktop style application that runs as a single executable. And we want to achieve a modern look and feel. We want to build this application with the Windows Native framework so that the users will not have to install anything extra for running our application and we will get Windows native look and feel.

We read about the native UI framework that Windows provided, we came across

  1. WinUI2
    1. Gives a modern look and feel.
    2. Is a Windows Native framework
    3. But it runs on a UWP application and we can't get the UWP application as a single executable
  2. WinUI3
    1. Gives a modern look and feel
    2. We can build it as a desktop application
    3. Gives Windows Native look and feel
    4. Can run it as a single executable (framework dependant unpackaged mode)
    5. But we need to install Windows App Runtime on the end user's machine to run the exe
      1. The Windows App Runtime should be of the same version that we used to build the application.
      2. Suppose I have installed Windows App Runtime of version 1.3 in my system and if I run a WinUI3 application built for Windows App Runtime 1.2, it will give an error - Ref - https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/answers/questions/1252518/winui3-why-do-we-need-to-install-windows-app-runti (Still waiting for a response)
    6. We do not want to use WinUI3 with this restriction
  3. Win32
    1. We can build it as a desktop application
    2. Gives Windows Native look and feel
    3. Can run it as a single executable
    4. But do not give a modern look and feel
  4. XAML island
    1. Gives a modern look and feel
    2. We can build it as a desktop application
    3. Gives Windows Native look and feel
    4. Can run it as a single executable

Is Xaml Island a path that we can follow when we are trying to build an application that will run for a very long time? I noticed that we don't have TabView in XAML island! It is also mentioned that "Note: Unpackaged apps will have limited support in this release, but some scenarios will be possible". Will XAMl island receive updates on new Controls?

With the following mentioned requirements can you please help us choose the Windows UI framework which is the best fit for us?

Thank you.

Universal Windows Platform (UWP)
Windows App SDK
Windows App SDK
A set of Microsoft open-source libraries, frameworks, components, and tools to be used in apps to access Windows platform functionality on many versions of Windows. Previously known as Project Reunion.
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Windows API - Win32
Windows API - Win32
A core set of Windows application programming interfaces (APIs) for desktop and server applications. Previously known as Win32 API.
2,507 questions
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