Latest Windows APIs and technologies

[This article is for Windows 8.x and Windows Phone 8.x developers writing Windows Runtime apps. If you’re developing for Windows 10, see the latest documentation]

Impress your Windows app users (and yourself) with the latest features in Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1.

Moving to a new platform is exciting: lots of new APIs, features, and app ideas. Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 bring plenty of new features to the table, and run on lots of new hardware: from traditional desktop computers, to hand-held touch-screen devices, to the latest phones. Your app has access to amazing graphics libraries, networking features, new purchasing options, new UI controls and a lot more. Don't just port your app, move it to the next level!

You can see a complete list of new features at Windows 8.1: New APIs and features for developers and What's New in Windows Phone 8.1, but here are some highlights.

Note  The Windows Runtime includes many APIs which are used asynchronously so that your apps remain responsive. This form of threading might appear complicated at first, but thanks to the async and await keywords that are part of C# and Visual Basic, it won't take you long to feel comfortable coding in this way. See Quickstart: Calling asynchronous APIs in C# or Visual Basic for a quick introduction.


Introducing Universal Windows apps

Windows Phone 8.1 brings with it an unprecedented level of platform convergence: now you can write Windows Runtime apps for both desktop and phone devices, in the same Visual Studio solution, using the same APIs and controls. For info see Building Universal Windows apps for all Windows devices.

New features in Windows Phone 8.1

Windows Phone 8.1 now supports apps written in JavaScript and WinJS (for more info, see WinJS on Windows Phone 8.1), including support for the Pivot control, App bar, and other controls which adjust themselves to better suit the phone display. Having the same controls available greatly simplifies writing apps for multiple devices.

Other new features in Windows Phone 8.1 include:

Feature Description


Windows Phone 8.1 introduces a brand new notification center.

Managing toast notifications in action center

Background transfers

New support for uploading and downloading data even when the app is no longer in the foreground.

Background transfer API in Universal Windows apps: what you need to know

Geolocation and geofencing enhancements

Your app can now fire an event when the device reaches a specific location.

Quickstart: Setting up a geofence

DirectX support

DirectX on Windows Phone 8.1 has been updated to support many features previously only available on the desktop.

DirectX and XAML interop (Windows Store apps using C++ and DirectX)

XAML controls

Windows Phone 8.1 now uses the same XAML UI framework as Windows Store apps.

Controls list (Windows Runtime apps using C#/VB/C++ and XAML)

Data and Storage

Windows Phone 8.1 now supports the Windows.Storage.API including roaming data and file pickers.

Accessing data and files

Working with file pickers


New features in Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 continues the work of building a brand-new UI for desktop, laptop, and tablet computers, with support for new controls in both XAML (accessible from C#, C++ and VB) and WinJS (accessible from JavaScript). These controls provide the framework for your app, and look after navigation as well as presenting information and images, and using features such as the camera or contacts.

Some of the most interesting controls are:

Feature Description

Hub control

A navigation control that provides a framework for your app when you need to display multiple pages of information in a mix of styles, such as the default weather app.

JavaScript sample code

C# sample code

Rendering the XAML tree into a bitmap

Takes a XAML visual tree, and renders it into a RenderTargetBitmap object. Useful for converting XAML objects into bitmaps for saving or processing.

Rendering the XAML tree to a bitmap

DatePicker and TimePicker controls

New XAML controls for quickly adding a standard way for users to select a time or date, without having to write a new control from scratch.



3D printing support

Drop-in support for 3D printers adds solid model rendering options right into your 3D design app.

3D printer support

3D printing sample

Quickstart: 3D printing

DirectX enhancements

New features introduced with DirectX 11.2 help you create state-of-the-art C++ games with amazing graphics.

DirectX programming

Windows Store improvements

New monetization models help you make money from your apps when users pay for extra features or in-game supplies. Automatic app updates ensure they're always running the latest version of your app.

Windows Store


APIs to add high quality speech synthesis to your app. Ideal for education or special needs applications.

Speech synthesis

Human Interface Device (HID) support

Use custom third-party hardware built to support the HID protocol.

Human interface devices (HID)

Multimedia updates

Improvements to multimedia playback, processing, and audio and video capture. Add advanced image capturing options to your app, such as the ability to take bursts of pictures at a time, or take pictures in the past by storing images before the user taps the shutter.



The new HTTP client API replaces existing networking API. Quickly and simply send and receive data over networks. File transfers can also run in the background.


HTTPClient sample


Geofencing allows an app to define a radius around a point of interest and have the system alert the app when entering or exiting that area. Your app can run in the background and get geofence events using the new background task LocationTrigger class. Create an app that performs a specific action when the user reaches a defined location, such as opening a shopping list or location-based game.


Wi-Fi direct

Using Wi-Fi direct, your app can discover other Wi-Fi direct devices nearby, and set up an ad-hoc network to add on-the-fly peer-to-peer networking support to games.

Wi-Fi direct sample


Where to go for more info

There are many sources of help available to you as a developer. In some cases you may want to open a support incident at Microsoft Support, but before you do that you might want to consider these online resources:

Building Universal Windows apps for all Windows devices

Blog: Windows/Phone 8.1–Platform Specific Code in Universal Projects

Windows 8.1 Product Guide for Developers

Windows 8.1: New APIs and features for developers