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…

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About Sylvain Bories

Software Developer (.Net, C#) and hobbyist game programmer (Unity 3d, XNA/MonoGame, DirectX). Interested in Green IT, Windows ecosystem, Technology and Science Fantasy.

Posted on January 31, 2013, in Hardware, PC, Programming and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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