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Metro, WinRT and the fate of components



Lisa Morgan
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January 11, 2012 —  (Page 1 of 6)
Microsoft’s in-depth preview of its new Windows 8 operating system has some developers rethinking next-generation applications. While the sleek Metro UI and flexible Windows Runtime library (WinRT) inspired “oohs" and "aahs” when unveiled at September’s BUILD 2011 conference, there is still some heavy lifting to do by Microsoft and the developers who will be building Metro-style apps.

Not since the move from DOS to Windows has Microsoft made such a dramatic change to its user interface. After years of mouse-driven desktop experiences, the Windows 8 preview delivers an immersive user experience that’s optimized for touch (although it also supports mouse, keyboard and pen input).

The new Metro UI features 2D tiles on a full-bleed canvas. The tiles can be used as shortcuts to app functionality, or they can be fully functional apps that surface live content feeds such as weather conditions, pictures, friends’ status updates, and stock prices. The Metro UI has already been incorporated into Windows Phone 7 and Xbox, while Metro design language elements or design principles have appeared in other products over time, including Zune.

“The Metro UI is an important part of Microsoft’s identity,” said Todd Anglin, chief evangelist at Telerik. “It’s a focused play that makes Windows relevant to consumers, and it provides developers with a stronger visual language.”

.NET components love Metro
Although Microsoft was late to the smartphone and tablet markets, .NET component providers say that its contributions will more than compensate for its tardiness.

_“The Metro user experience is leaps and bounds ahead of anything else out there, including iPhone and iPad,” said Jason Beres, VP of product management at Infragistics. “Apple defined smartphone and tablet user experiences; Microsoft is redefining them. Windows 8 is Windows reimagined.”

Miljan Braticevic, president and CEO of ComponentArt, agreed, calling Microsoft’s moves bold and innovative.

“It’s obvious that Microsoft is delivering a powerful development platform and UI paradigm that makes iOS and Android outdated,” he said. “The real estate use is far superior to other platforms because Metro uses all the pixels for content instead of buttons and toolbars.”

Julian Bucknall, CTO of DevExpress, is a fan of Metro’s look and feel.

“I like how you can drill down from a tile or have a live tile that’s being updated with information without you having to drill down,” he said. “It’s also nice to be able to move things by directly manipulating them rather than jumping back and forth between a mouse and a keyboard. For real work like writing, you still need a keyboard, but it will be interesting to see what new paradigms come out of this.”

Given the “touch first” design of Windows 8, Metro-style apps are envisioned as being small and specialized rather than large and feature-bloated like the desktop applications built for previous versions of Windows. Windows 8 also has a desktop mode that’s just a click away from the Metro-style start screen, which is wise since traditional desktop applications aren’t expected to change dramatically in the short-term, especially among business users.

“No one’s going to stop developing apps for existing platforms,” said  Bucknall. “The platforms are still relevant, but developers may nevertheless want to develop new apps or target new hardware.”

While Metro apps may become an instant hit with consumers, developers nevertheless need to think of the use case, as Metro apps may not be appropriate in all circumstances.

“Developers need to understand Metro UI concepts and what they’re intended for,” said Telerik’s Anglin. “Metro isn’t a silver bullet, so not everything has to be shoehorned into it; otherwise you’ll get an inappropriate result.”

Developers building line-of-business (LOB) applications may want to consider the use cases for Metro-style apps and desktop applications in tandem as business users may well want a full-featured application on the desktop and a Metro-style app on the go.


Related Search Term(s): Metro, Windows 8, WinRT

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Comments


02/29/2012 03:22:35 PM EST

Notably it idneucls a set of JavaScript libraries to enable developers to write MapReduce jobs with JavaScript. In addition to support for Node.js, Microsoft has been pushing HTML5, JavaScript and CSS as a cross-platform development solution, instead of its own Silverlight stack. Microsoft has gone as far as to emphasize JavaScript et al as the development stack for its Metro framework on Windows 8.

Saint Kitts and NevisAelson


03/01/2012 01:10:06 AM EST

allow Silverlight plnigus to be loaded within its browsers, native Windows 8 tablet apps will be developed using WinRT. As Brad informs us, this gives us Silverlight developers hope, as WinRT is still just C#

IrelandMervet


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