Papa's Perspective

The Impact from Windows 8, in 2012 and Beyond

Time is causing Windows to evolve, but those changes offer new opportunities for app developers.

Time is causing Windows to evolve, but those changes offer new opportunities for app developers.

When a meteor crashes into our planet, it's apt to leave a swath of scorched earth in its wake. Some things in its path are decimated, but it also brings new changes that might take years to shape. In 2011, Windows 8 made a similar mark as it first made its impact. It had help; even meteors are affected by the gravity of other objects. The changes are just beginning, but Windows 8 has already altered our industry.

The song "Changes," in which David Bowie chronicles reinvention, is fitting when you think about the impact that Windows 8 has already had on the Microsoft community. The Windows 8 Developer Preview changed the strategies of both developers and companies. The promise of a Windows Store made developers salivate. And HTML5 offered the promise of a new Web that pushed it all. Oh those ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

Code Name 'Windows 8'
Windows 8 started making its mark in 2010 after hints at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference about what was coming with the "change in strategy." The world got its first glimpse of Microsoft's vision at The Wall Street Journal All Things Digital conference in June 2011. The consumer-focused Metro UI that was unveiled was a massive departure from previous versions of Windows, even though the traditional desktop UI remained intact as an option for PCs.

In September 2011, at the Microsoft BUILD event, developers were shown how they could build apps for Windows 8. Then in February 2012, Microsoft revealed the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, solidifying how the apps are king. It all came with some very loud bangs, but what's the real impact?

Think beyond the development of apps, beyond the Metro UI and beyond the marketing. What is Windows 8 really trying to achieve? What is any company trying to achieve with its flagship product? It's all about making money, now and in the future. The world has changed, and with it, Microsoft has altered its own course. Windows 8 is all about the consumer and the apps. It doesn't matter if you write apps with XAML, HTML or C++, as long as the apps get written and consumers buy machines with Windows on them.

The Store
In some ways, it's not a dramatic departure at all for Microsoft. Windows has been, and still is, the company's core product. The evolution of computers has changed from all PCs to a variety of mobile devices such as laptops, ultrabooks, smartphones, tablets and those yet to come. Microsoft is positioning the company to make sure that its OS is the king, now and for many years. The keys to all of the company's changes are the OS and the apps. If the OS continues to sell like it has in the past, then developers will have a massive audience for their apps in the Windows Store.

It becomes more compelling when you take a step back and forget technology. Forget Windows. Forget apps. Imagine you wrote a great story. It's sitting on your computer and your publisher is ready to print it. Now, consider that all the brick-and-mortar and online book behemoths don't exist. How would you reach your audience? How much money would you make off of your story? Not much. But with the proper channels, you have the opportunity to put your story in front of hundreds of millions of people.

Now, consider building an app. Maybe you have one already for Windows Phone or another device. As the number of people who can view your app increases, so does your opportunity. If Windows 8 is as pervasive as previous versions of Windows, then the opportunity for the average developer is incredible.

In Time, Changes Come
You might already know all there is to know about Windows 8 and Microsoft's vision. Then again, there could be more that's not yet been revealed. Windows continues to change, but one thing remains certain: Microsoft is (still) Windows. Time is causing Windows to evolve, but "I can't trace time." And that's Papa's perspective.

About the Author

John Papa is a Microsoft Regional Director and former Microsoft technical evangelist. Author of 100-plus articles and 10 books, he specializes in professional application development with Windows, HTML5, JavaScript, CSS, Silverlight, Windows Presentation Foundation, C#, .NET and SQL Server. Check out his online training with Pluralsight; find him at johnpapa.net and on Twitter at twitter.com/john_papa.

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