Monthly Archives: January 2013

Smoothly and colorfull passage with Windows 8!

Since the end of 2012 went out the last of the OS of Microsoft: Windows 8.

 

It joins in a “multi-screens” strategy, a convergence of the Windows (PC, mobiles and tablets), Windows Phone, Xbox and Windows RT (tablets) systems, a sharing of the profiles (Windows Live) and data (SkyDrive… Meaning Cloud). This convergence is made through the “Modern UI” interface, based on colored “tiles” (square) giving access to applications, which we find on the various platforms.

Accueil Windows 8

Windows 8 start screen

Arriving two years after Windows 7, this new system is subject to controversy.

At first the presence of two interfaces. The start screen and the desktop. The first one based on tiles and gets closer strongly to Windows Phone and accommodates the Store (shop of applications) and the Xbox services (games, music). Furthermore, the browser is IE10 close to that of the mobiles. This interface is rather intended for a tactile use. The desktop as for him is very close to Windows 7 and assures moreover retro compatibility. One of the most common criticisms is the shift from a mode to the other one and the too tactile orientation of the start screen for those who have no adequate screen.

There are two criticisms from this cut. The first one is the absence of start menu (replaced by the start screen which can group links towards all the applications) and second Windows RT, version relieved for ARM tablet having only the start mode, considered by certain manufacturers as ambigue because of the presence of Windows in the name (and of the absence of desktop and the classic environment).

Next to it, there is also an absence of Windows Media Center or of DVD / Blu-Ray reading of movies (attention, Windows 8 reads all the same the data disks). To be able to read DVD, it is necessary to buy the extension Media Center… Or install a third party software. For Blu-Ray, it is necessary to buy a third party software (that does not change). This orientation of Microsoft is understandable by a report of users count / cost of development and licenses… It is a question of profitability.

Set apart it (voucher, at ergonomics level, it’s a “shock” because the users been used in “classic” Windows systems need a time of adaptation) the system starts fast, is very fluid, little greedy, honorable of numerous novelties. The main clauses being IE10, Store, Xbox services, the “contextual” Search, break / resumption on the downloads of files, the Windows Live / Skydrive integration and clearer interfaces.

Personally, I needed some time to accustom me to these changes, but finally we are there and found things to be as fast as under Windows 7. Example of the integration of devices with Microsoft OS, the Xbox Smartglass application allows to interact since a PC, a tablet or Windows Phone with the Xbox. With Skydrive, OneNote and Office 365 it is very easy to share documents and media between the various devices, what is not unimportant. Thus Windows 8 is a positive experience, especially as the whole ecosystem (with Windows Phone 8 and the Xbox 360) tends to be coherent.

 

But inside, what interests developers?

For an amateur developer (thus I for example when I develop at my home), the Express tools (limited and free versions) lean on Visual Studio on 2012 (thus a new version) and new thing, Team Foundation Server Express is available, what allows to secure his sources 😉 . Then, all the “former” technologies (WPF, WCF, WF, Silverlight, XNA, etc.) work in desktop mode. Thus everything goes well 🙂 .

The big novelty is the Store, which following the example of its homonym on Windows Phone or of Xbox game for Xbox 360 and Windows Phone allows a “registered” developer to distribute its applications. Unlike Windows Phone which leans on Silverlight or XNA technologies and of the Xbox 360 which leans on XNA, Windows 8 Store leans on a new application stack (or let us say an evolution of the previous technologies) which leans on three couples of technologies (and three big manners to develop): XAML / C#, C++ / DirectX, HTML / Javascript.

The set can represent itself so:

Windows 8 application stack


Windows 8 application stack

To summarize, a Store application (and taken care by Microsoft) has to work with the WinRT API (roughly, the technologies in green), whereas the desktop applications work with the classic Win32 API (technologies in blue). It’s to bet for the continuation that Stores should converge between Windows 8, Windows Phone and the next Xbox, to strengthen the coherence of the system and return the more attractive development of application. Wait and See 🙂 .

 

Conclusion:

For my part, I am seduced by this ecosystem, visually different from the competitors and proposing nice technologies (although still heterogeneous). Of course, I find it’s a pity the absence of XNA or Silverlight in new Store, but it is necessary to admit that XNA has its limits (DirectX 9) and Silverlight was killed by Apple in the same way as Flash.

Remains to define what corresponds to me best…

Windows Phone 8, the first flagships.

With the release of Windows Phone 8, new Smartphones come on stage.

 

But exactly, what brings Windows Phone 8 compared with Windows Phone 7.5?

For the software part, it’s about Windows 8 compatible components, the native support of C/C ++ (for the applications), Windows 8 towards Windows Phone 8 (Modern UI) simplified application ports, multitasking, Internet Explorer 10, lounges (sharings of tasks, calendar and discussions), the child world (restricts mode), Smartglass (allows to command the Xbox), Xbox Video, Xbox Music and of new screen resolutions.

For the hardware part, the addition of the support of two cores processors, NFC and microSD cards.

Here is for main lines. Globally, the OS (operating system) is rather complete, reactive and the display has the advantage to be original with compared with the competitors. Over and above the fact that the virtual keyboard is very pleasant of use.

 

The phone renewal cycle having made me miss the release of Windows Phone 7, I waited until 8 to have it one (and I suffered with my old Windows Mobile 6.5 😉 ). On the other hand, I prefer to wait that my phone is exhausted to renew it, that makes less wasting and scheduled obsolescence.

 

Nokia Lumia 920 PureView.

Nokia Lumia 920

Nokia Lumia 920

As a lot of people, I had Nokia phones before the advent of Smartphones. This brand was always synonymic of quality, reliability and longevity. Unfortunately, Nokia badly lived the passage in Smartphones for various reasons. Then there was their alliance with Microsoft and the choice of Windows Phone. Since then, I am rather impatient to have Lumia between hands. I found 800 well but some “hardware” were missing. 900 which is arrived later and as I could renew my phone filled (by losing the design of 800) this aspect but arrived at the same time as the last one Nokia under  Symbian OS, 808 PureView and his hallucinating photo sensor (47 Mpx) and especially a few months away before the theoretical release of Windows Phone 8 (which meant the release of ” superphones ” and the support of the PureView technology: the integration of an image stabilizer). Without counting the rumor which eventually comes true: Windows Phone 7 would have no update towards Windows Phone 8 but an intermediate version 7.8. In brief, it seemed urgent to wait. What I made.

And Nokia announced Lumia 920. Return in the design of 800 there bigger ( 4,5 inches), the characteristics resuming almost all that Windows Phone 8 spécifications (except MicroSD slot), everything to please. I have still hesitated when it went out becauses of tests which questioned the photo quality (in good conditions). But it turned out that was mostly a software problem which would be corrected. Then, the PureView sensor is a 8,7 Mpx (against 47 for 808). 8,7 it’s already sufficient. All that without counting induction load peculiar to Nokia and the software suite of very good quality of the Finn (Maps, Drive, Music, Care, Panorama, Intelligent Photo). Its big weakness it’s the relatively high weight (185 g) but that we forget it fast.

As a result, I took it and I do not regret:

  • An excellent network quality (very good network catcher, support of H + and 4G).
  • Videos are of a quality exceptional (thank you the stabilizer) and the photos of very good quality.
  • The screen is magnificent (and solid, my son made him enjoy twice the stone floor and he went out as a charm there), his touch is pleasant and the seizure is very precise.
  • The browsing in Windows Phone 8 is fluid and pleasant.
  • The GPS is precise and allows good navigation so on foot as by car.
  • The diary synchronized with Outlook, the on-line storage by SkyDrive or the fast notes by OneNote are practical.
  • Office to consult or modify documents is very practical.
  • Fusion of the phones, e-mail, social network contactes… We are connected 😉

The entertainment is also very present thanks to Live Xbox, in Xbox Music+Video and in Store. The autonomy is not outdone: until two days in normal use (not bad for a Smartphone). In brief, delighted with my Windows Phone 🙂

 

HCT Windows Phone 8X.

HTC Windows Phone 8X

HTC Windows Phone 8X

HTC always made good Smartphones, whether it is for Windows Mobile or the first waves of Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 (without speaking other platforms), always with a high quality and characteristics so complete and a top of the range that possible.

Moreover, further to her experiment with the HTC 7 Mozart, my wife is rather attached to this brand.

Her choice concerned to the 8X. A little smaller (4.3 inches), much lighter (130 grams) and very pleasant to the touch, it offers a little bit different experience from Nokia (what is very well, we are far from the uniformity of the first bakery of Windows Phone 7).

Less strong in video, it makes almost equal game on the rest in term of support of the Windows Phone 8 features.

In the use, I find it less good at the “network” level (catching signal) and the software offer on behalf of HTC (especially at the level of the navigation).

On the other hand it is better on the sound thanks to the system Beats Audio (high definition sound), although Nokia possesses more regulations at this level.

 

Conclusion:

In two points…

  • Thanks to our different tastes my wife and I chose two different Smartphones but which are everything very good two 😉
  • These two Smartphones are both good “flagships” at the release of Windows Phone 8 and at the use they do not disappoint, on the contrary.

It is promising and let’s hope that it lasts 🙂

Back to source (codes)!

After one year made by tops but especially by bottom and by very low, here we go again!

 

In a sense, that was not more bad to disconnect from the development under Windows Phone / Xbox / Windows. Many things evolved and Microsoft stayed in the deliberate vagueness on many technologies, of which XNA (I suppose that it will move on this side when the new version of the Xbox will be launched). On the other hand, when we work with Microsoft technologies, we know in what expect because this kind of behavior is not the first one. It is necessary to take it with philosophy 😉

Excepted XNA, the ecosystem Windows evolved well (in any case to my taste): Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 7.8 (old models) and always the Xbox 360, the whole in the sauce Metro… Forgiveness, “Modern UI”… And a convergence towards XAML/C#, DirectX11/C ++ and HTML5/Javascript, the possibilities of the cloud (Skydrive, etc.)
Smartphones, Desktop, Laptop, tablets, consoles, there is of what to titillate the imagination!

Without considering tools Express (to understand limited but free) covering more and more aspects of the development (Visual Studio, TFS, etc.)

 

In brief, it is the good moment 🙂

Happy New Year 2013!

Bonne et heureuse année 2013!

Happy New Year and better wishes for this new year which begins!

I hope that this new year will be more productive (in any case for me 😉 ) because when I look at the number of my publications in 2012, I have an impression of big empty space 🙂

But big changes are coming in the Windows ecosystem, that should sound good!

 

Go, this year I am held there 😉

%d bloggers like this: