Web applications will improve on Windows 10 thanks to the WebView2 runtin
Many desktop apps, like Discord and Spotify, are based on web-based technologies and typically consume more system resources than proper native apps. Microsoft has been working on an alternative to the Electron framework that most web apps use, and now it’s rolling out to Windows 10.
Microsoft announced that the WebView2 runtime is deployed on all Windows 10 PCs, if they are running the April 2018 Update or later. The component was already included in Windows 11, but Previously, applications had to bundle the entire run-time (which increased download size and complexity) if they wanted to use WebView2 on Windows 10.
Now that the component will be on more PCs, it could become a more popular choice for web-based applications.
Slack, Discord, Skype, Spotify, Visual Studio Code and countless other desktop apps are built with Electron, which is based on the same engine that powers Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and other browsers. The framework made it easy to build cross-platform apps, but Electron apps are notoriously CPU and memory intensivewhich causes computer slowdown and decreased battery life on laptops.
Microsoft has been working on “WebView2” for Windows 10 and 11, which is primarily intended for Windows applications that need to embed web pages (like login forms). However, WebView2 can also power entire apps, much like Electron — Microsoft Teams on Windows 11 is a WebView2 app.
WebView2 brings some benefits to web-based applications. Because the runtime is included in Windows 11 and 10, apps don’t need to bundle the entire engine with their apps, reducing file sizes and download times for updates . If apps use the included runtime (developers can always choose to bundle a specific version if they want), they’ll benefit from improved performance and battery life with new versions of WebView2 that Microsoft continues to improve.
Few applications currently use WebView2, but now that it’s rolled out to millions more PCs, it could start to become a popular alternative to resource-hungry frameworks like Electron. We could all use more apps that don’t drain batteries or eat RAM.
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