Windows 10 universal apps plan gets a lift from Uber

Uber has launched the first version of its app for Windows 10 which can be used across PCs, tablets, and smartphones.

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Uber has its first Windows 10 desktop with live tiles Start menu support.

Image: Microsoft/Uber

Uber on Wednesday took to Microsoft's Windows blog to announce its universal Windows 10 which can run on phones, tablets, and PCs.

Uber product team member Yuixin Zhu credited the "power of the Universal Windows Platform" for the company's ability to do what Microsoft hopes more developers will do: "Deploy a single app through a unified store that delivers the right experience to whatever device downloads the app."

Windows 10 desktop users can do basically everything they can do on phone versions of the app -- except call and text their driver. This includes registering with Uber, requesting a ride, and setting a pickup location. Users can also hit up Microsoft's voice assistant Cortana to hail a ride, which ties in nicely with the launch of Cortana for iOS and Android announced this week.

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The app will provide an estimate of the cost, while a map shows the driver's location on the pickup route. Windows 10 desktop users can split fares with friends and as with the phone app, rides are automatically charged to the registered credit card.

Uber for Windows 10 even supports live tile updates on Microsoft's Start menu, which displays the estimated time of the driver's arrival and saves the rider from having to open the app on whatever phone they're using -- which is more likely to be an iPhone or Android.

Uber has had a Windows Phone app for a while now, and in that sense the new version doesn't appear to be a win for hecklers of Microsoft's universal apps approach to filling the 'app gap' between Microsoft's app store and the mobile stores of Apple and Google.

Microsoft's former CEO Steve Ballmer said last week it would be better served by making sure Android apps run on Windows Phone than pursuing universal apps that run across form factors.

However, Microsoft's other major problem on its app store has been the quality of key apps that are actually there. User reviews of Uber for the pre-Windows 10 app suggest it's played second fiddle to Android and iOS on maintenance, features, and stability -- so much so that an Uber support staff reportedly last month told a Windows Phone user who complained about the app to use its iOS or Android app instead, since these offered a better experience.

Uber's Windows 10 update may also help fix that problem. The company's one and only version note for its app on the Microsoft Store is: "We've made significant improvements in app stability."

"We worked to upgrade the Windows 8 app to support the best of Windows 10, while also imagining the tablet and PC experiences, so that users could initiate rides from all devices," said Uber's Zhu.

In that sense, and if Uber's lead validates the move for others, Microsoft may have notched up a win for the idea of universal apps.

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