This is the first post in a series following up on the //build conference.
At the keynote we were introduced to Windows 8 and the new Metro UI. We learned about the thoughts behind it and how we as developers could gain benefit from it. At the keynote on the second day Steve Ballmer talked about the importance of a success in getting the stuff implemented throughout the entire Microsoft organization and products. This appears to be a huge investment for Microsoft.
The presentation of Windows 8 at the keynote was impressive. It was well presented and the demos explanatory. From a UI perspective Microsoft is adding a layer on top of the existing desktop UI targeting tablets. This new UI is called “Metro” and is very much similar to the UI used on Windows Phone. It’s simple, clean and easy to use. There are still some work to be done e.g. regarding navigation. It’s really important to keep in mind that first and foremost this UI is targeting tablets. The desktop as we know it today is right underneath. The way the world is today and the way we work with computers there are many scenarios the Metro UI will not be the correct solution for. As we see more and more focus on NUI based interaction I think we will see a wider adoption and user scenarios for the Metro UI in near future.
With the introduction of Windows 8 and Metro UI Microsoft also introduced WinRT (Windows Runtime). WinRT is a new layer making it easier to talk to Windows Core OS Services. With the WinRT APIs a lot of concern have been removed from the applications making it faster and more productive to write applications. Lots of code demos will follow in a later post – I promise!
Building applications for the Metro UI you have three opportunities:
1. C++ and XAML,
2. C# and XAML or
3. JS and HTML/CSS
All three methods gain the advantages of WinRT and makes it possible to create some stunning Windows 8 (only!) applications. The WinRT is only targeting the Metro UI part of Windows (at the moment) but it is still perfectly valid to create ordinary desktop applications as we know them today. Any application that can run on a Windows 7 box will run on a Windows 8 box.
Microsoft have released a preview of Windows 8 and a preview of Visual Studio 11 that can be used to develop the new Metro UI applications. Both are not even in beta yet so be aware – there are bugs! Don’t let them in on your production environment!
I hope to see Windows 8 in beta within the next 3 months and hopefully in RTM during Q2 2012.