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The future of Silverlight

20 Sep

This is the third post in a series following up on the //build conference.

I would lie if I didn’t say that Silverlight got a really special place in my heart. Since the very first introduction of Silverlight I have been able to see the idea behind Silverlight and the possibilities that Silverlight provides.

At //build a new API called Windows Runtime (WinRT) was announced. Based on this API it is possible for applications designed to run as Windows 8 Metro Style applications to communicate with the Windows Core Services in an easy manner. At the moment Windows 8 will be separated into the new Metro UI enabled a fast and fluid UI to touch based devices and into the normal desktop as we have it in Windows 7. The new Metro UI is a new and appealing way of running applications in Windows – however it is designed to tablets and touch and very much to consumers. From a business perspective it will take some time before the Metro UI will have its place – but it will come as more and more tablets and other touch based devices are being part of business.

The new Metro UI is a scaled down version of the full Windows experience – it got some limitations probably introduced to insure full fast and fluid experience. One of the limitations is the browser. As it is the case on the IPad it is a scaled down version and it does not support plugins. No plugins!? Yes, it makes it impossible to run Silverlight, Flash or Java-based applets (like NemID). At the same time it is not possible to run Silverlight applications out-of-browser or native (like on the Windows Phone) in the new Metro UI. In stead a new language based on XAML and C# was introduced to create Metro style applications.

GOSH! Is Silverlight dead then? No, Silverlight and WPF are still the preferred way to created business applications running on Windows. Both Silverlight and WPF applications can run on the classic desktop in Windows 8, but no doubt that the Metro UI is coming and it is going to be huge – I personally hope to see it released in the first half of 2012. However Microsoft haven’t released any news about a business strategy and it will probably take some years before we see Windows 8 in any of the large corporations. That is why I without a doubt say that Silverlight and WPF are still the preferred way to created business applications running on Windows.

If you feel that all of your Silverlight skills are wasted now then don’t worry. I got some REALLY GOOD NEWS! If you are a Silverlight or WPF developer you can reuse ALL of your skills. The XAML and C# based language used to create the Metro style applications are only slightly different from the language we use when creating Silverlight or WPF applications. I will write lots of posts in the future about the new language but until then: Sharpen your skills in Silverlight today and be ready for the applications of the future. I fucking can’t wait to create some amazing applications to the Metro UI :)

//xamlgeek

N.B. If you live of creating minor applications to consumers you should probably begin to take a seriously look at the new Metro UI – better today then tomorrow!

Windows and the new Metro UI

15 Sep

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.

//xamlgeek

Follow up on //build

15 Sep

At the moment I’m attending the Microsoft //build conference. It has been some exciting months leading up till this point with very little information from Microsoft. As a contractor and MVP with focus on Silverlight and WPF it has been extra exciting. Will Microsoft totally kill Silverlight, will Silverlight become first class citizen in Windows 8, will there be a new technology replacing the client side perspective that Silverlight have done so well. The questions were many before the keynote.

During the next few blog posts I will give my thoughts on what we will see in the future based on what I have heard at the //build conference.

Windows and the new Metro UI
The future of Silverlight

Tips and tricks to Windows 8

Dual boot with Windows 7 and Windows 8 (VHD)
Disable spell checker in Windows 8

//xamlgeek

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