22Sep 2011

So it’s almost here. After waiting for three months (got the taste of Windows 8 goodness in June) we have the developer release in our hand.

At the BUILD conference last week Microsoft revealed the Windows 8. Understanding that the landscape of computer devices and services is evolving or developing rapidly, they have taken a new path while remaining on the course of offering backward compatibility.

Any computer problem can be solved by adding another level of indirection, except the problem of too many levels of indirection.

This is where Microsoft got bold. The new design and interaction language known as Metro has an entirely new implementation and execution platform. The Windows Kernel is also there, but the API that “Metro” applications rely on and the new native interface is called WinRT.

But don’t worry guys; we can still develop desktop applications using our existing stacks and tools. Even all Windows 7 applications will run natively on Windows 8. But when it comes to Metro style apps, there is no more Win32, no more .NET. This is not a layer on top of windows. This framework is new, is light, and is built for speed.

While the technology change is magnificent, the business implication for us “the developers” is colossal.

So how will it affect us as developers? If we assume that we got about 9 months until it ships, there are a few things to keep in mind when we think about writing a Metro style application.

  • Let’s get the facts straight, Windows 7 sold 250 million copies in its first year and there will be 500 million Windows 7 machines in use when Windows 8 launches.
  • All Windows 7 machines will be able to run Windows 8. Even a Lenovo S10 (first-gen Atom + 1GB of RAM) can “run” Windows 8.
  • We can build Metro style apps with C++, C#, VB as well as HTML/CSS/JS. And tools for building the apps are free for now. There was 500,000 downloads of OS preview and development tools in the first day.
  • Touch is so good on Windows 8 Metro style apps, but apps also work great with mouse & keyboard.

I think it’s quite reasonable to say that there will be about 250 million people shopping for Metro Style applications within the next 18 months. Those apps will only be available from the Windows Store and the Windows Store is empty right now. So what you think about this opportunity?


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