Feeds

Windows 8 fondleslabs: Microsoft tip-toes through PC-makers' disaster

Winning consumers and influencing content-makers

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

Yes, but is Microsoft committed?

Going hand in hand with the "right device" are the "right applications" – games, books and magazines, CRM, email, streaming films and TV and so on.

And with Windows 8 this is Microsoft’s real challenge.

In the past, when Microsoft introduced a new platform or language, the big challenge was to convert the existing Redmond coding faithful.

Windows 8, however, throws partners a curve ball: the Metro UI itself and WinRT, underneath. The analogy is the introduction of .NET only this time.

WinRT is a simple UI programming model for Windows devs that means they don’t need to learn Win32 - and which exposes the Windows Presentation Framework and Silverlight XAML UI model to developers. WinRT is designed to let you build apps which are self-contained, and can live in and be downloaded from an app store.

Only the analogy breaks down, because it is not just the usual Redmond faithful Microsoft is trying to win over. Redmond is also hoping to poach iPhone and iPad devs, those building for the Blackberry, and Android developers programming for others’ smartphones. And that’s just the app developers, never mind the content shops – creatives who have for years built media for Windows that ran in Windows Media Player, Flash or Silverlight. Now, while WinRT can bridge the gap, there’s also the HTML5 factor, a force Microsoft is backing but not – as far as we can tell – wholeheartedly on Windows 8 tablets. Instead, it has opted for the Silverlight, XAML and WPF mix.

Even the old bet of the Redmond faithful isn’t as reliable as it once was. The door on existing desktop apps - writing for Windows 7 and earlier, and working on Windows 8 ARM tablets - has closed. With the closure of that door, Microsoft has given up on the idea of being able to port your existing apps to Windows 8 on ARM – a concept it floated at this year's CES and scrapped with Intel over when it came to control of the message. All this comes with the usual question of whether Microsoft can be trusted not to pull the rug out from under your feet after you’ve committed. Sure, Microsoft says WinRT now, but just a few years back Microsoft threw everything into Silverlight only to dump its browser-based media plug-in for HTML5.

And while WinRT sounds simple from a technology point of view, the technology is not yet finished. Much will rest on the beta. From a business case point of view, WinRT and Windows 8 are less clear: why would I – a developer or content author – want to do it when the best-selling tablets remain the iPad and Amazon’s Kindle?

Microsoft is late to the party, no question. Analyst Forrester sniffs opportunity, calling the company a fifth mover in the tablet market and claiming interest has "plummeted" during the past nine months. Only Forrester can save Windows 8 tablets is the message.

Others reckon we might not even see Windows 8 or tablets this year, putting the Windows 8 RTM a year from now and pushing Windows 8 tablets to 2013. If this is the case, it would be a criminal act by Microsoft’s management: not just another 12 months behind Apple but coming out after the consumer-tastic window of another Christmas.

If, as others suggest, Windows 8 betas in January or February, Microsoft can save some face.

Delivering Windows 8 is one thing, however, and during the coming year Microsoft must do more to succeed. It must cajole, convince, evangelise, proselytise: not just app devs but also the makers of the all-important games, movies, TV shows, business applications, book publishers and warehouses that the public will follow.

Unfortunately, Microsoft must also work with many of those PC makers who have already blundered. They will need to tip-toe through a minefield of recent experience, not just putting Windows 8 on tablets but also on more niche devices, too. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.