Can Microsoft’s Desktop App Converter Save the Windows Store?

Gavin Phillips 12-04-2016

Soon you will be able to download legacy software from the Windows Store.


We often talk converters here The Complete Microsoft Office File Converter Guide If you have ever converted a text file, like PDF to Word, you're familiar with the challenge. Sometimes it's as easy as printing, other times you need special tools. Enter this converter guide. Read More at MakeUseOf, and we always want the best The Mega Guide to Media File Conversion Tools in Windows Wondering how to best convert that media file? This is your guide out of the media file jungle. We compiled the most relevant media file conversion tools and show you how to use them. Read More : the most efficient, an excellent feature array, a sleek aesthetic, and hopefully (but not always!) free of charge. But how about a tool allowing developers to convert their desktop apps into a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app? This could finally make the Windows Store useful How Dead Apps Are Drowning the Windows Store Dead apps are everywhere in the Windows Store. Why are apps abandoned, how does it affect users, and how could Microsoft solve this dilemma? We analyze the sad state of the Windows Store. Read More !

At Build 2016, Microsoft previewed their Desktop App Converter, previously known as Project Centennial. With Windows 10 Anniversary build 14316, Microsoft has released a preview version of the tool. It won’t be long until you’ll see the first applications in the Windows Store!

What Is It?

Desktop App Converter is a core feature of Project Centennial, an ongoing push by Microsoft to bring classic Windows applications such as Win32 or .NET into the Universal Windows Platform ecosystem. The converter is designed to encourage developers to bring the applications to Windows 10, hopefully easing any potential teething problems along the way. Microsoft explained more in an official blog posted to the Windows Dev Centre:

Desktop App Converter is a pre-release tool that enables you to bring your existing desktop apps written for .NET 4.6.1 or Win32 to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). You can run your desktop installers through the converter in an unattended (silent) mode and obtain an AppX package that you can install by using the Add-AppxPackage PowerShell cmdlet on your development machine.

Reports are positive. Legacy and desktop apps will not suddenly be updated into magnificent modern masterpieces, but the functionality gained through conversion will certainly be appealing to many developers.

Why Is This Important?

The release of the Desktop App Converter is important for several reasons, but mainly for the access and packing developers will now have access to. What does that mean?


Microsoft Build 2016 Desktop App Converter

Well, instead of a legacy app behaving how it would normally, a developer can now add UWP features to the packing, meaning support for Windows 10 features such as “at a glance” live tiles. The legacy or desktop applications can also perform a wider range of background tasks, deliver notifications, and will appear in battery saver menu options, as well as a host of other benefits.

It should, in theory, make legacy and desktop app installation and support that much easier, too. Applications wrapped with a UWP package Are You Confused by the Windows App Terminology? Did you ever wonder what's the difference between an application, program, or software? Or whether that Windows app is metro, modern, universal, or plain straight? You're not alone. Let us clear things up! Read More can call upon a much wider range of UWP APIs, granting more access to the internal workings of Windows 10.

Furthermore, legacy or desktop apps can be converted to run on any Windows 10 device, provided the conversion uses the correct parameters. It could even feature on the Windows Store, making use of the official Microsoft licensing and update facilities.


Finally, UWP apps are safer than desktop apps because they are run in a sandbox. By converting their applications and offering them for download through the Windows Store, developers add a layer of security.

What Are the Requirements?

To run the Desktop App Converter, you’ll need Windows 10 Anniversary Update build 14316 (or later, when they arrive), and either a Pro or Enterprise license. As well as that, your computer must have the following minimum specs:

  • A 64 bit (x64) processor
  • Hardware assisted virtualization
  • Second Level Address Translation (SLAT)


You’ll have to install the Desktop App Converter through an administrator PowerShell window 6 Basic PowerShell Commands to Get More out of Windows PowerShell is what you get when you give steroids to the Windows Command Prompt. It grants you control of nearly every aspect of the Windows system. We help you leap up its learning curve. Read More .

After downloading the files, extract to a local folder.


Next, in the Cortana search bar type PowerShell, right-click, and select Run as Administrator. Once the window is open run the following command:

PS C:\> Set-ExecutionPolicy bypass

Confirm the changes with a Y, and press Enter. Now run the following command to set up the converter:

PS C:\> .\DesktopAppConverter.ps1 -Setup -BaseImage .\BaseImage-14316.wim

If the command prompts you to reboot, restart and run the command again.

For more installation information, along with how to run the Desktop App Converter once installed, how to actually deploy your converted and signed application, a list of Desktop App Converter caveats, and the current working list of Desktop App Converter PowerShell parameters, please see the official supporting blog post.


Desktop App Converter Moving Forward

At Build 2016, Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft Studios and the entire Microsoft Xbox division, illustrated the power of the Desktop App Converter by showcasing two converted games. The first was Age of Empires II, an absolute classic. While exciting, it is clearly an older and less demanding game. Nonetheless, it illustrated the Desktop App Converter’s prowess at converting and repackaging a legacy application for Windows 10.

Next came the showpiece. Spencer opened and ran a Microsoft converted version of The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, an infinitely more complex and more demanding game than AoE II. This reveal could pave the way for the mountains of legacy games struggling for support to make their way to Windows 10 Here's How Gaming Will Work With Windows 10 With Windows 10, Microsoft is bringing PC gaming and the Xbox One together in a big way. Find out what to expect once Windows 10 arrives. Read More , packaged for the Universal Windows Platform.

Not only that, but it also perfectly illustrates the power of the Desktop App Converter to give legacy applications that are unlikely to be rewritten a chance in the new ecosystem. Microsoft is understandably excited about this development, and its Channel 9 Developers community has already released a handful of videos to aid both developers and anyone else who would like to try the Desktop App Converter on their own applications.

Long Live the Windows Store

Like we said, this tool doesn’t mean everything developers convert will become an all-dancing, shiny, modern-art application. But it demonstrates Microsoft intent to bridge the gap between Windows generations and a commitment to improving the variety of applications 7 Things That Really Annoy Us About Windows 10 It's not a secret that Windows 10 isn't perfect. Cortana borders on being intrusive, mandatory updates can cause issues, and much appears half-baked. We present our top 7 of most glaring Windows 10 annoyances. Read More available to Windows 10 users through the Windows Store.

Will you be converting any of your own apps? Or will you try and push some legacy games through the converter? Do you think we will see a boom in the Windows Store? Let us know below!

Related topics: Windows 10, Windows Store.

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  1. Anonymous
    April 18, 2016 at 8:24 am

    I just want that Windows store will have all those apps that Android Playstore has, this way i didn't have to worry sync. my data through Google Drive etc. There are only few apps in Windows Store

  2. Anonymous
    April 12, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    At one time, there was talk of getting converted support for Android and/or iOS software in Windows. That, to me, is a lot more interesting.