Microsoft Project Centennial seen with "universal" desktop Office

Microsoft may have burned off one bridge, but it is still building a different, and perhaps more critical build. Redmond has officially declared Project Astoria, the bridge that would let Android developers easily port their apps to Windows 10, dead but Project Centennial seems to be very much alive and kicking. In fact, it might have an rather ambitious demo in the works. Spotted briefly was a version of Microsoft Office for the desktop that has been retrofitted to be installed from the Windows Store and run like a normal Universal Windows App.

Just as Islandwood is the iOS bridge and Astoria was the Android bridge, Centennial is the codename for the bridge that connects regular win32 apps and the new Universal Windows App platform. And just like the other two, its purpose was to remove as much hesitation and resistance from developers in porting their software to the new Windows 10 future.

You might wonder why anyone would want to do such work, considering classic win32, like Adobe's Creative Suite, for example, run perfectly in Windows 10, least on PCs and Intel tablets. Microsoft's new app platform has several advantages, like cross-device availability, but in this particular context the benefit is more along the lines of added security. Only universal apps can be installed from Windows Store, which lessens the need for users to download potentially infected or malformed installers.

But more importantly, these Windows apps also run in their own sandbox, much like Chrome apps or Android apps. This means that waywards apps will have less chance of taking down the whole OS with them and increases the security of the system overall. It also means that apps can be easily installed and uninstalled without leaving leftover files scattered everywhere.

Project Centennial definitely sound interesting on paper, but some might have doubts about it in practice. So what better way to demonstrate how Centennial can port and run desktop apps than by porting the most complicated desktop software in Microsoft's portfolio: Office. A certain "Centennial Office Test1", made by Project Centennial, was spotted in the Windows Store. While the app, which is 950 MB in size, installs correctly, running the versions of Word, Excel, and Power Point that it installs do nothing but launch blank windows. It could be a bit of time before Microsoft has more to show, if it decides to show it at all. Currently, Project Centennial is available for a very few number of select testers.

One by-product of Centennial might be the possibility of running even win32 apps on ARM-based devices. Again, that might be possible in theory but, depending on how Microsoft implements this virtualization, might be harder to pull off.

VIA: MSPoweruser