Feeds

Windows 8: First contact with Microsoft Touch

Strong enough to ARMwrestle Android and iOS?

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Preview Microsoft is facing up to the million-dollar question: how does it compete with Apple's iPad and Google's Android when Windows was designed for keyboard and mouse rather than touch control?

Microsoft's answer has been to create a platform based on Metro, the design style in Windows Phone 7. Metro apps run full-screen without any surrounding chrome, which is why Microsoft calls it an immersive user interface. Microsoft has used the opening of its BUILD conference in Anaheim, California, today to deliver the first developer preview of Windows 8, the first version of Windows optimised for touch.

For all the tablet focus, users expect a Windows PC to run Windows applications, so Windows 8 also supports the traditional Windows desktop. In the current build, Windows 8 looks much like Windows 7, aside from the disappearance of the old Start menu in favour of pages full of Metro tiles.

IE Metro in Windows 8

IE goes Metro: new menus top and bottom vanish when you tap the page, for a full-screen view

The Metro UI is not just an alternate shell. Metro is built on a new native code, Windows Runtime (WinRT), which can be called from two alternative view engines. The first is XAML, the layout language used by Microsoft's Silverlight media player and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), driven by code written in C, C++, C# or Visual Basic. The second is HTML and CSS, driven by code written in Javascript. Microsoft notes that the Metro Software Development Kit (SDK) "also includes a subset of traditional Win32, COM and .NET Framework APIs".

Microsoft has promised to clarify the Windows developer story at BUILD. So far, it looks like this: Metro is a new platform, and while you will be able to port code from existing Windows applications, they will need to be rewritten. XAML and .NET are supported, but this is not Silverlight or WPF – though the Silverlight plug-in still runs in the browser. Microsoft does seem to be promoting the HTML and Javascript approach here at BUILD, but says XAML and .NET have access to all the same features.

Windows 8 developer studio

The Windows 8 Developer Studio features a Visual Studio 11 early build

Windows Phone remains a separate platform. Windows group president Steven Sinofsky told the press ahead of BUILD that the different form factor means that running the same app on phone and tablet is not an immediate prospect. That is missing the point though; in principle Windows Phone could have its own cut-down version of WinRT, but instead it has Silverlight and XNA. It seems that Windows developers will have to live with this diversity for some time.

I was given a Windows 8 Intel-based tablet by Microsoft to try, just ahead of its public unveiling at BUILD. Windows 8 will also run on ARM, but Microsoft says the ARM build is not yet ready to show. Once set up, it boots from cold in around 10 seconds – impressive. Resume from sleep is near-instant.

Windows 8 opens to a lock screen. Password entered, you see the new Start menu, formed by Windows Phone-style live tiles in a horizontally scrolling view. Tap a tile to launch an app, which presuming it is Metro-style will open full-screen. Application menus are accessed by a quick swipe top or bottom, letting you access, for example, open tabs in Internet Explorer.

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Next page: Metro Charms

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
DARPA-derived secure microkernel goes open source tomorrow
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.