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Building Apps for Windows 10 with Visual Studio 2015

Today is an exciting day for Windows users and developers alike with the launch of Windows 10.  For developers, Windows 10 represents the culmination of our platform convergence journey with Windows running on a single, unified Windows core. This convergence enables one app targeting the Universal Windows Platform to run on every Windows device – on the phone in your pocket, the tablet or laptop in your bag, the PC on your desk, and the Xbox console in your living room. And that’s not even mentioning all the new devices being added to the Windows family, including the HoloLens, Surface Hub, and IoT devices like the Raspberry Pi 2. All these Windows devices will access one unified Store for app acquisition, distribution and updates.

Today, I’m excited to announce that along with the RTM of Windows 10, you can now build apps for the Universal Windows Platform with Visual Studio 2015. The Windows Dev Center is also now open and accepting submissions of your Universal Windows apps.

Since the first preview of these tools in March, we have made significant updates to many parts of Visual Studio to make it easy to build apps for the Universal Windows Platform. Throughout the course of the past few months, these tools have gotten better with your feedback – thank you!

Acquiring the tools

If you don’t already have Visual Studio 2015 RTM, you can install the free Community Edition. If you prefer the Professional or Enterprise edition, you can download them from, and during setup, choose ‘Custom’ to install the Tools for Universal Windows Apps.

If you already have Visual Studio 2015 RTM, you can now add these tools to your existing Visual Studio installation. You can run the installer, or open Programs and Features from Control Panel, select Visual Studio and click Change. Then in setup, click Modify and select the Tools for Universal Windows Apps.

Creating Projects

You can create a Universal Windows apps with the new project templates in Visual Studio 2015 in a language of your choice – C#, VB, 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. 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. You can also create Win32 applications that target the Windows 10 SDK to leverage the new APIs exposed by the platform.

.NET Framework libraries delivered as NuGet packages

The entire set of .NET Framework libraries is included in your Universal Windows app as a set of NuGet packages (built on top of NuGet v3). In addition to providing you a rich .NET surface area that works consistently across all Windows 10 devices, this will also will allow us to bring newer APIs to you at a faster cadence. We will also be able to consistently evolve these APIs across all mobile devices that you can target using set of updated platform targets in Portable Class Libraries (PCLs).

XAML Designer and Editor

The Universal Windows platform allows you to tailor your app for any Windows 10 device using built-in platform capabilities. The XAML Designer has been enhanced to allow you to create and edit view states that can be triggered automatically when running under different form factors. Combined with new Windows 10 controls like the RelativePanel and the ability to specify completely tailored views on different devices, you should have the tool to delight your users with great user experiences. See this video to get an overview of just how easy it is to get started with designing your first XAML app.

.NET Native improvements

Windows 10 Universal apps built with C# and VB are optimized with .NET Native, which provides up to 60% faster start time and 15-20% less memory usage.  We have continued to make our .NET Native compiler throughput and error diagnostics better. We have also enabled cloud compilation of your apps in the Windows Dev Center, allowing us to eventually deliver fixes and improvements to your apps without requiring re-submissions. Learn more about .NET Native here.

Packaging apps for the Store

You can reserve names for your Universal Windows apps with the Store, and create app packages for submissions to the Windows Dev Center. Visual Studio also generates packages that are ready for side-loading in an enterprise scenario using the tools in the SDK. The manifest designer in Visual Studio has been updated to allow you to target the full breadth of capabilities that you can express for your app.


Try out the tools and send us your feedback via the Visual Studio Connect site, Send-a-Smile or the on Windows tools forums. We are looking forward to your submissions of apps targeting Windows 10 and demonstrating the entire breadth of capabilities unleashed by this new platform release.