Today was the first keynote about windows8, the metro UI it includes and so much more. While watching this I made some notes & screenshots that I'll be happy to share with you now. (seems like those exams in dutch-writing & listening came in handy after all.)
At the moment, the most current windows version is Windows 7. This day actually marks a quite important one in the cycle of Windows7's lifetime, Windows7 overtook windows XP usage globally!
But, Win7 is like an evolving species in this cycle, since the RTM release the operating system has undergone more than 1500 product changes, this doesn't even include the security fixes!
Along with Win7 came IE9. Today IE9 is the fastest growing webbrowser and has proven quite a bit in the aspect of web development, hardware acceleration clearly matters. (Remember the fishtank?)
(for people who haven't seen this yet : http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive/Performance/FishIETank/ )
And now we are on about web development, every month 542million! (that's 542 000 000) people sign in using their LIVE ID, hotmail, skydrive.
Windows8 takes what they had in Windows7, and improves on this, resulting in complete backwards compatability!
Windows8 Foundational elements.
Windows8 promises to be the biggest change in windows since Win95!
With windows8 comes a whole new user experience, the one that should catch your eye straight away is the Metro UI. The Metro UI is the main interface for all tables and PC screens with a low resolution, the PC's with a higher resolution will still be able to use the windows7-like user interface.
Furthermore at Windows they clearly care about the developers, they made it very easy to port programs to Win8, but more on this later.
Also they wanted to make Windows8 work on whichever machine you use. Tablets, Laptops, Desktop and Phone will now run the same applications, with the same pieces of code and equally smooth. One of the most amazing things to me was the auto-scale on any resolution.
And if this machine is touch-sensitive it will work perfectly under windows8 with amazing touch-recognition. But for the most of us, who still love their mouse and keyboard to much to let go, it still works smooth as ever using these for input.
The Metro UI as mentioned before is an important change in the way people interact with windows, they are all full-screen application and touch-sensitive. But they can be put aside each other as well just as you can do with windows7 applications nowadays.
Developing for the metro interface can be done in any programming language, due to a new way of how applications interact with eachother.
This way, no matter what language you are familiar with you can still make the same applications with the same functionality, leaving the developer to choose which one to use.
For the layout, as shouldn't be a surprise, you can either use HTML / CSS or XAML, which is very similar to how webpages are developed nowadays (HTML5 / Silverlight).
An important thing to keep in mind though is that no one is forced to use the metro UI on a normal desktop / laptop machine! I'm sure lots of people will be relieved with this, especially developers because the Metro UI does not seem handy to work on at all! Switching can be done using hotkeys (WINDOWS + Arrow_down)
But this once again proves windows8's view: One operating system, for everyone!
Developing in Windows8
The above image is how development would of looked like under Windows. The languages live all in their own seperate worlds not knowing of eachothers existance.
In this model, you can see how metro uses a new way of handling with development. The language you choose doesn't matter at all. Whereas desktop apps, such as used everywhere up untill windows8, don't work together as easy as they do in Metro. You can't just make a C# application work together with C++ without doing some plumbing.
In the preview we've also seen Visual Studio 2011 where they have optimized this to target the Metro UI. You can notice that even at the start of a new project.
In any language you opt for, you have the same templates. one I particulary like here is the Grid application which is aimed for tablets. This brings me to the next important feature in the development of applications under Windows8.
With the new development tools there's something handy that's been added to Expression Blend.
Expression blend now also targets HTML & CSS! But off to a more important part is the ability to make a program target any resolution trough a few clicks.
In the above screenshot, they centered their picturebox so no matter how the resolution changes, or wether it goes from landscape to portrait, the picturebox will stay centered. And we didn't even have to know the resolution!
Publishing your application.
Publishing your applications can be done trough Visual Studio's "store" tab. This will open up a IE window where you have to fill out some information
A coldboot of windows8 is nearly faster than turning on your monitor! it's just a few seconds till you see the UI.
There's a virus check when booting! If you inserted a USB with a rootkit on it, you won't be able to boot up.
Switching from metro to normal UI is quick and smooth.
Windows8 is build on hardware accelerated graphics (like IE9). The whole interface reacts quickly because of this.
New taskmanager, after 20 years they thought it was time to give it a new look, more modern.
the USB3.0 support is just amazing and you can tell the difference very well.
Desktop backgrounds can now expand on to both monitors! Both monitors can have a taskbar (optional) to show which application is running on which monitor.
Also all windows8 users will have a skydrive account bound to them. Log in anywhere and you got your files! (cloud computing).
You won't have to reformat anymore, you can just Reset or Refresh
The last thing I'd like to mention is that the preview applications on windows8 where made by 17 teams of university internships! As an IT student myself, I'd say kudos to them and let's hope I'll do the same for Windows10 😉