Analyst Watch: The end of mobile and the future of client-side development
By Al Hilwa
January 3, 2012 —
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Related Search Term(s): client-side development, Microsoft, mobile, Windows 8, Windows Phone
Caught your attention? You say that mobile application development is in its infancy and is about to explode, so how can it be ending? Well, in the next 12 to 18 months, almost all user-facing devices will become mobile, resulting in a convergence of mobile and desktop application models. In other words, mobile application development will become the mainstream style of client-side application development for most new applications.
This cataclysmic shift will happen because Microsoft has decided to re-imagine the PC to encompass the tablet form factor by embracing a touch-first user interface and a sensor-rich hardware architecture.
Historically, the term "mobile apps" was used for applications whose front-end ran on mobile devices, typically phones. The iPhone revolutionized the nature of mobile apps by introducing a touch interface and a rich set of sensors into the device, and that functionality was exposed to developers. Android smartphones followed soon after, and recently the iPad and Android tablets have shown us the full power of this new style of user interaction, causing Microsoft to go back to the drawing board with its next generation of the Windows operating system, Windows 8.
Throughout the last 12 months, Microsoft gave some hints of this re-imagining by first announcing that it is porting Windows to the ARM processor to enable it to run on the same type of hardware the iPad and other tablets run on, then it showed a touch-first interface based on the Metro UI it introduced in Windows Phone. Most recently, at the BUILD conference, Microsoft revealed the programming model for Windows 8, and the variety of languages and APIs developers can use to build Windows 8 touch applications.
The future of the PC: Microsoft's re-imagined PC is a dual personality device, which, depending on the hardware form factor and chipset, may or may not run existing applications. ARM-based devices will not run existing PC apps without recompiling, while x86-based devices will. Device makers are expected to make tablet form factors as well as traditional clamshell devices that may or may not sport touch-screens.