At Moov2 we’re big fans of Microsoft’s .Net framework and toolchain, some details of which we’ve shared before. We have also been investigating their current Mobile operating system Windows Phone 7 and have been working on some Windows Phone apps in our spare time. This past couple of weeks however, have been a very interesting time to be invested in Microsoft technologies so we thought we’d discuss some of the recent news from Microsoft.
Windows 8 is Microsoft’s next big update to their flagship operating system. Over 600 million desktops are currently running Windows 7 so this next version is a big deal to the company. The platform has undergone some pretty major surgery with a big focus on tablet devices which has led to the introduction of WinRT, a touch-centric interface for a new breed of Windows application (commonly referred to as Metro style apps). The next generation of computers are looking very likely to be in the form of portable, touch screen tablets as has been proved by Apple with the very successful iPad, Windows 8 is Microsoft’s affront on what is being referred to as “the post-PC era”.
We have been experimenting with some early releases of Windows 8 and so far have been impressed. Whilst the Metro look and feel is a far cry from the Windows experience everyone is used to, there is still a Desktop mode which is much more familiar to its Windows 7 roots. This dramatic change will certainly be uncomfortable for many on first usage but seems like a good fit, particularly when viewed on a modern tablet device. More about Windows 8.
Of course our main interest is in the development side of this new platform and we’re pleased to say that Windows 8 development is a great match for our existing skills. Building apps for Windows 8 is a familiar process and we have been able to get up to speed in a very short space of time. Of particular interest is the support of HTML5 technologies to build native applications for Windows 8 which allows a convergence of the experience we have in the office with building web and desktop applications.
Last week, Microsoft called a last minute press conference with a secret announcement. This announcement turned out to be the introduction of a new tablet device called Surface. Microsoft have identified that in order to realise the absolute maximum potential of their new Windows 8 operating system, they need to pave the way in terms of hardware on which to run it. Microsoft Surface is being touted as a call to action for other Windows hardware manufacturers to up their game in terms of the quality and attention to detail these OEM partners are producing.
Microsoft Surface is a tablet computer available in a smaller portable version or more powerful desktop replacement. It features a slim cover which doubles as a keyboard and kick stand for sitting the device upright. The device looks very desirable and we will certainly be doing our best to get hold of one at the earliest opportunity. More about Surface at Surface.com.
Windows Phone 8
Finally, Microsoft have also just announced their plans for the next major update to their mobile platform Windows Phone 8. Windows Phone 8 will be based on the same core as Windows 8 which will offer some great interoperability between their mobile and desktop operating systems. Windows Phone 8 phones will support a dual core processor architecture (which basically means more powerful phones), NFC (near field communication) and Microsoft Wallet (secured bank card details for enhanced online and in-app purchasing). Other details are yet to be confirmed but you can find out the full details so far over on the Windows Phone blog.
Again from our development perspective Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 sharing such similarities means they also share a similar development model. This is great for us and means we can be immediately productive on any Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 projects.
Windows Phone Event
We’re pretty excited about this “new Microsoft” with its focus on user experience and attention to detail. As such, Moov2 founder Dan Thomas is organising a Windows Phone Developer Day as an opportunity for like minded developers to get together and share opinions and experiences along with discussion of these new announcements. More info on the event website.