Technology

Four Steps to Keep Windows 8 From Sucking

Four Steps to Keep Windows 8 From Sucking

  • Writing apps for Windows 8 should be simple. When I say that, I mean that I expect them to run on the phone and on the tablet and on the PC, similarly to the way that I can target PhoneGap and get both iPhone and iPad – or at least the way my native iOS developer friends target iPhone and it kinda works on iPad too. if I’m targeting the new WinRT namespace, whether its with Chakra and JavaScript or Metro flavoured C++, I should get an executable that runs on the Windows 8 that runs on tablets and phones and PC’s. Personally, I don’t care if it also runs on PC’s, but Microsoft seems convinced that the tablet OS and the PC OS should be the same thing, so fine.
  • My WindowsPhone 7 handset should run Windows 8. At a minimum, I’d like it if one could expect the Lumia 900 to run Windows 8, because I’d love to tell everyone I know how wonderful a phone the Lumia 900 is. I don’t even want to admit to myself that there might be a Windows Phone 8 that isn’t the same thing as Windows 8. This completely breaks my pre-conceived notions of how mobile OS’s work and how app stores work: apps in the phone app store should work on the tablet app store.
  • It should be easy to buy a tablet that runs Windows 8. I’m a software person – technology is what I do; and I’m finding it confusing what Windows 8 is. Is it a new phone OS? A tablet OS? A PC OS? Apple made it so that the iPhone and iPad run, basically, iOS. So, I should expect my WP7 and my Surface to run the same OS too, right?
  • Windows (on x86) should continue to run existing Windows apps. Silverlight apps. WPF apps. Windows forms apps. Microsoft has always done a great job with backwards compatibility, and this release should be no exception. If my phone doesn’t run old-school Windows apps, I am not bothered by this. If my tablet doesn’t run old school Windows apps, I don’t really care about that either. I want my PC to run Windows apps. It’s not important to me that my tablet and my PC run the same OS. This is not part of my preconceived notion of how the world should work.

The thing is, Apple beat the rest of the world to the punch.

They’ve made the rules for the game – they’ve set the consumers expectations, and frankly, the developer’s expectations. If Windows 8 doesn’t work the way iOS does, people will get confused – and that first tinge of confusion plants the seed of fear uncertainty and doubt. “Oh, a Windows 8 tablet, I’ve heard that’s complicated – you probably need to get your IT department to set that up for you.”

I’m a .NET developer by trade, and a PhoneGap / HTML5 based iOS developer by hobby. I’m a proud WP7 handset owner – an HTC HD7 to be exact. I drooled at the Surface announcement. I made my wife watch it three times, and I showed it to every co-worker I could find at the water cooler the next day. I drool over the Lumia 900. I want to tell everyone I knowto buy one, but now I worry that its crippled.  I own an iPad, and have previously owned iPhones, and love them in their own right – but I think WP7 is a better OS. That said, when it came time to buy a tablet, I tried to bring myself to buy an Android tablet for well over twelve months, but didn’t in the end because of the apps*.  Windows 8 has so much promise, but I’m really worried about what fragmentation is doing to its future. It’s already a steep goal to expect the existing .NET developer world to create enough great apps to make WP7 a hit – now we also have to crank out WP8, W8, and W8Pro versions of these apps that are all different? Wait, what? Forget it, I’ll just go back to iOS.

* In particular, it was the Twitter app for iPad – that’s got to be the best piece of software I’ve ever seen.

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