Video Services Go Universal as Hulu Lands on Windows 10

Feb 15, 2016

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I watch a lot of TV on my PCs. It’s just a lot easier to watch my favorite show when I am in my computer lab on a screen at my current workstation. And I prefer the fidelity of the controls using a mouse and keyboard to access rewinds, subtitles, and search. I have only converted two of my six workstations over to Windows 10, but I am very happy to hear that Hulu has released an official Windows 10-compatible app that runs on both Windows 10 Desktops and Windows Phone.

If you do not know what Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps are and why they are a big deal, no worries. Here’s a quick primer. See that shiny new desktop or laptop that you bought because you’d heard all that terrible (unfounded) stuff about Windows 8 and wanted to go straight to Windows 10? OK, one of the things that Microsoft baked into that chewy morsel of gadgety goodness was a development framework that allows developers to, supposedly, code once for the UWP platform, and run their app on desktops, tablets, and phones.

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Theoretically, the code for the dev’s UWP app uses a bunch of code that is commonly accessible by all apps regardless of the family of devices they are running on, and then connects with code that is specific to a given device family to help tailor the experience to the total amount of glass you have to view and interact with the device and app.

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Netflix did the same thing two months ago, releasing a UWP app right before the winter holiday break. Key among the capabilities of these apps is integration with Cortana for voice commands as well as enhanced visualization with Live Tiles. This release should also run on Xbox One as well later this year, once Microsoft enables Cortana voice commands on the XB1 OS.

So, for those in the market for a new smartphone this year, and/or just bought or are planning on a Windows 10 PC this year, this news bodes well. At a minimum, it means that you can expect the same experience when you are viewing Hulu on a desktop versus a phone. Even more important, if you get a Windows Phone that uses Continuum — a feature that makes Continuum-enabled phones blow up their UI into full-sized desktop resolutions when docked, allowing for the use of desktop Windows apps and a keyboard and mouse and external monitor — you’ll get a seamless experience as you transition from on-the-go to your dock at home.

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Finally, as these two giants have deployed UWP solutions to Microsoft’s platforms, you can anticipate more to follow and be less and less concerned about the supposed app gap on the Windows Phone platform.

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