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Windows 8 Will Have Big Developer Impact

In case you haven't visited the homepage of, I'm here to tell you that Windows 8 is going to be big. Really big. And biggest most of all for developers.

From the moment Microsoft Corporate VP Mike Angiulo started flicking the Live Tile UI on a touch-sensitive tablet for an audience of partners in Tapei (watch the half-hour video here), it was obvious that Windows 8 isn't just another OS refresh. What I saw was a ground-up re-envisioning of how people interact with their PCs and devices. Yes, the traditional Windows 7 experience is still there, and a lot of Angiulo's initial pitch focused on tablet form factors. But there is no doubt that Microsoft is looking downfield with this OS. The new stuff we are seeing in Windows 8 is going to define the new normal. And the applications developers write for Windows 8 will need to reflect that.

Even more important for developers is the decision by Microsoft to make HTML 5 and JavaScript a first-class platform for Windows 8 applications. No, Microsoft isn't ditching Silverlight and WPF. Early reports from trusted folks like Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurott point to some exciting things related to Silverlight-based application development, but those details remain firmly under wraps. But Microsoft is definitely adding HTML 5 and JavaScript to the mix.

As VSM columnist and Blue Badge Insights President Andrew Brust put it in a tweet this afternoon: "My theory on the Win8 HTML 5/JavaScript thing: Win8 will have 'apps' and it will have 'applications.' HTML 5/JavaScript for the former and .NET for the latter."

I'm looking forward to hearing how all this folds into the larger .NET message. There hasn't been a major Microsoft platform or OS launch in 10 years that hasn't leveraged heavily against the value proposition of .NET -- the tooling, the languages, the framework and, most of all, the widely available developer skill sets. And yet here we are, talking about HTML 5 and JavaScript, rather than Silverlight, XAML and the glory of managed code.

I'm sure all the messaging will work itself out. I'm certainly looking forward to hearing about the tooling that will enable Windows 8 HTML 5/JavaScript 'apps' and provide for compelling touch and mouse/keyboard application interfaces.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 06/03/2011 at 1:15 PM

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Reader Comments:

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 i

Hopefully, Microsoft will not persist in the rude idiocy of the past, and will provide a painless upgrade path for .net winforms/WPF/ASP/Silverlight developers that DOES NOT include the words "recode." I don't care how different the models are. Make the old code work in the new web environment (including winforms), but let me use the new stuff, or give me a reason not to recommend the LAMP stack to my clients.

Mon, Jun 13, 2011 lucas

Why is everyone getting all bunched up about HTML5. All HTML5/Javascript is going to be used for is presentation layer(No deplyoment necessary!). That's great!

Mon, Jun 13, 2011

It would be wise to learn cross platform technologies. Ms knows they are losing as things go away from the desktop. If you don't like their historical bullying and Monopolistic tactics on the Windows platform, do you really want them redefining the internet with embrace, extend and control. Wake up people and try to learn something open and non-ms. They dumped VB programmers, now if it suits them they could dump Dotnet-which is pretty much Java, stolen and extended.

Fri, Jun 10, 2011 Garry@TriSys UK

Can anyone please remind me why Silverlight is better than Winforms for builing native Windows 8 apps/applications? Whoever at Microsoft decided that all windows developers wanted to build cross platform apps, I hope he has retired. Apple iOS and Android have been hugely successful with native apps of late. Has Microsoft lost focus and forgotten that their most successful business application suite, Office 2003/2007/2010 is a native windows app and that its Apple Mac version of office is a different code base? Are MS intending to rewrite Office in HTML5/JS, or Silverlight, or WPF? Of course not: So please return winforms to 1st class citizen status for building native Windows 8 apps in VS2012.

Thu, Jun 9, 2011 Sunfun

Why do we speak of .NET and HTML5/Javascript as mutually exclusive? For example, can't you write a piece of software that uses HTML5, Javascript, and ASP.NET MVC?

Wed, Jun 8, 2011 Richard

The comments that ".NET/WPF/Silverlight/etc are dying" are just a continuation of the FUD that's been circulating the internet for over a year.

Hey, Microsoft's adding support for something new; that must mean they're going to abandon everything else, right?

Yeah, just like the release of .NET meant they abandoned their C++ applications.

Tue, Jun 7, 2011 Theo

It's all about the cloud. By pushing HTML5 and javascript, and giving silverlight a boost, your applications will be ready for the cloud. Microsoft don't want any desktop development anymore, because you cannot move them to the cloud - that's why winforms and wpf are dying. So, it's all about one thing: Microsoft not only wants your money anymore, but also your code and your (customers) data. And I am NOT going to support it. I'll wait to see what the RTM will be about, and when .Net desktop apps are not fully - and I mean really fully, including full support on all levels for winforms - supported, I will serious going to look at Apple and Linux, for the first time in my career.

Mon, Jun 6, 2011

I have no idea why some people (not here) think the sky is falling and seem to be absolutely panic stricken.

Anyone who understands what .NET is surely knows that it simply cannot be replaced by lowly HTML5 & Javascript.

I already know HTML5 and Javascript at a basic level and do plan to increase my knowledge of them simply because they are ubiquitous. But they don't begin to replace .NET.

That said, I think the developers who seem to be losing their head over this have some lessons to learn. First, is not to listen to rumors and fear mongering. Second, don't read more into things than is really there--don't give in to wild speculation (base things on facts). Third, things in the tech world change; don't cling too tightly to any one specific language/framework/etc. I am heavily invested in .NET but I think of myself as a developer first and foremost and know I will be OK no matter what changes happen in the tech world.

Sun, Jun 5, 2011

me too.

Sun, Jun 5, 2011 Garry@ TriSys UK

If Microsoft does not provide a .Net wrapper for the 'jupiter' UI for Windows 8, then it will alienate all .Net developers. We do not want to (re-) learn HTML5 and Javascript, and fiddle with Ajax and all other slimey hacks, when we already have a fabulously productive development experience with VS2010 and .Net. Seriously, if my 'apps' I develop with Microsoft .Net tools, do not get 'first class citizen' status on windows 8, then I will switch to Google/Apple.

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