Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Magenic assesses the Windows 8 Platform


They have an interesting overview of Windows 8.

I liked this contrast of the "back to the future" comparison. Apps that use the full screen are the way PC applications used to work, and the way games work that take over the entire screen. In those days, you had to use hack "switchers" to get from one screen to another without the "chrome" gizmos that are on the edges of most standard windows since the Xerox Altos days that first defined multiple windows on a desktop:

Metro Style vs. Traditional Windows Applications

WinRT/Metro style applications differ from the traditional“Windows” look by eliminating the Windows “chrome” such as frames, window borders, control corners, etc. in favor a full screen, immersive experience. Metro style applications are intended to leverage asynchronous features in the UI controls and languages to provide a very “fast and fluid” interface.
WinRT/Metro style application
Figure 1. Traditional Windows application.
Figure 1 is an example of a traditional Windows application. Notice the following UI elements:
  • Title bar with control corners
  • Ribbon/toolbar with many controls
  • Visual scrollbar controls
  • Status bar with information
  • Busy visual appearance
  • Window borders even when full screen
WinRT/Metro style application
Figure 2. WinRT/Metro style application.
Figure 2 shows a typical Metro style application. Notice the following differences:
  • The page is full screen.
  • The page is “chrome” free.
  • Visual display is not cluttered, and is easy to read and understand.
  • There are no large scroll bars. Instead, there are visual clues that there is more to the right (a well-written Metro style application only scrolls in the “natural” direction – in this case left and right).
  • The entire experience is “touch ready,” but works with a keyboard and mouse equally well (e.g. touch is a first class citizen). Designing for touch will support mouse and keyboard in most cases.

Here they note that there is new support for C++ and Html5/Javascript, and that Flash and Silverlight won't work in the new browser

        The .NET, C++, and HTML5 application models are restricted to the WinRT API and functionality allowed within the WinRT security sandbox. The browser that runs in WinRT does not allow plug-ins, so custom toolbars, Flash, and Silverlight are all off limits.

The last part addresses whether you want to use Windows 8 as a smart client strategy (this is essentially a Microsoft answer to doing an IOS iPhone iPad type app on a windows tablet or computer), and how you can use Silverlight or WPF to leverage porting what you know now.


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