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Windows 8 – Microsoft pins hopes on web devs

This week Microsoft launched the developer preview of its next operating system, cunningly called Windows 8.

With this release Microsoft is taking a big gamble on reshaping the Windows landscape toward its Metro User Interface – the interface they built for Windows Phone 7.

Today I spent a few hours playing around with the developer preview (I had to check that Xero worked). I’ve taken it through some pretty simple tasks, and bear in mind I’m not using it on native or touch sensitive hardware which would show off some of the more significant differences with Windows 8. Here’s my take.

Personally I love the Metro UI and I’m glad to see someone move away from the icon metaphor that desktops have been religiously sticking to for decades – all the while trying to invent something that’s actually new. Having said that there are times when it’s a bit jarring moving between classic Windows UI screens and the Metro screens.

JavaScript and HTML are first class citizens for Metro which is an amazing play by Microsoft. You can still write applications in C# and C++ but the APIs are all exposed to JavaScript applications too. I’m still not sure how many converts Microsoft will have from web dev to the windows dev, but this release firmly positions the OS closer to the cloud and web enabled applications than ever before (you can just feel the influence that ChromeOS has had on this decision).

The OS is designed for a connected world – most of the elements in the touch interface need a connection of some kind with Microsoft Live accounts built right in. And the experience is significantly better with an always-on internet connection. Windows 8 also masks the differences between standard networking and 3G etc, so it’s a lot easier for developers to make use of any internet connection the machine has. Hence Microsoft is firmly putting its foot into cloud connected platforms.

There’s still a mismatch between Touch and Keyboard/Mouse. I don’t have a touch enabled laptop or PC or tablet, and as such I’m relying solely on my mouse. This can be seriously cumbersome at times but I suspect we’ll see a wave of new hardware with the release of the OS.

All in all I think Windows 8 is looking very promising, but only time will tell.


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1 comment

10 February 2012 #

I was just wandering, if it is not a secret, what programming tool did you use to build Xsero so it runs under Win8 with no problems? HTML5 my first guess? Or did you reprogram it so it fits win metro? Will appreciate any answer. Thanks.

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