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Port to Windows Runtime kick-started

Published on Friday February 15, 2013 by Friedemann Kleint in Qt Windows News | Comments

With Windows 8, Microsoft introduced a new platform, the Windows Runtime. On the desktop, the operating system provides 2 modes:

Classic mode: This mode shows the familiar Windows desktop known from Windows 7 (with the exception of the start menu), in which traditional applications using the Win32 API run. No modifications are required for Qt 4 or Qt 5-based applications to run in this mode.

Modern UI (formerly known as Metro mode): This is a new type of user interface intended for tablet and phone UIs on which Windows Store Apps run. These applications use a new API called  Windows Runtime, which is based on the Component Object Model (COM). A similar API exists on Windows Phone 8.

Research work on how to port Qt 5 to use Windows Runtime was started by Andrew Knight from Digia and is visible in the winrt branch of the qtbase repository. Recently, further contributions by Kamil Trzciński were added to it (check out his blog). Now, with Qt 5.0 out of the door, we would like to kick off this platform port. This completes our cross-platform offering in addition to the ports for the widely used Android and iOS platforms.

We plan to continue development in this branch, aiming for as complete as possible port. Technical details can be found at here.

The first milestone is to get simple raster windows to be drawn on the screen. Later, we will investigate porting ANGLE to get OpenGL ES 2.0 support required for QML2.

Similar to the android branch, the idea is not to merge the branch, but later look at it and apply its changes to the dev branch.

To play with the branch, create an environment with a x86 MSVC2012 compiler and configure Qt with:

configure -nomake examples -nomake tests -developer-build -opensource -confirm-license -xplatform winrt-x86-msvc2012

We are also planning on creating a Qt Creator plugin to support deployment. Andrew Knight has already started on it in the winrt branch of his Qt Creator repository.

The work has still the "Research" status, so, we are not able to give any release dates yet. We aim to have something ready for the 5.2 release. However, since the development happens in the public winrt branch, the current state is always visible and it is easy to participate.

Contributions and help are warmly welcome.

Happy Hacking!

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