Microsoft has an apps problem. Both Android and Apple regularly tout the number of apps available in their respective app stores as an important accolade. But, it's more than that, too. I regularly hear from folks who complain that their favorite app just isn't available on Windows Phone or for Windows 8.1. I've heard this complaint recently when we switched my youngest son from Android to Windows Phone for the simple reason of being able to use Microsoft's Family Safety monitoring and reporting.
Personally, I think the number of apps as a selling point is silly. When there's no less than 30 different Fart Board apps, it's easy to stack the deck in your favor. But, I do understand the pains associated with not actually having an app you want and think it's a completely valid argument.
Microsoft knows this, too. This week at MWC 2015, the company revealed that with Windows 10, developers will now be able to publish Hosted Web Apps to the Windows store.
Hosted Web Apps will allow web developers to easily convert components of their web sites into apps that are available for download from the Windows store, but still host them remotely on their own web infrastructure. Additionally, the new type of apps will have access to universal APIs, allowing them access to things like notifications, the camera, calendar, Cortana, and more. The way browser-based apps run today, Microsoft limits access to the core OS by forcing them to run in a sandbox
Microsoft hopes this ability will entice more developers to write apps for the Windows 10 platform, which includes desktops, smartphones, Xbox, and other devices with the new, consolidated codebase. But, there's one glaring problem with this functionality and that is security. Weekly, we're introduced to significant flaws in the web-layer of the Internet affecting the majority of web sites. Just this week, a flaw that has existed since the 1990's was just now discovered, putting a multitude of web sites at risk. How does something like this relate to Hosted Web Apps? – particularly since Microsoft has promised that Hosted Web Apps will support Java which is notoriously unsecure.
Obviously, Microsoft will need to address this in Windows 10, but we'll find out more details when Build kicks off in April.