On August 1th 2011, Microsoft launched Windows 8. Along with the launch, the company also launched hopes of trying to salvage the declining market share of PCs. Windows 8 promises a much better user experience geared towards making significant changes to the Operating System itself and also rendering the OS to mobile devices, touch-based screens, and tablets. Primarily, the launch was meant to be an answer to rival the likes of Android and Apple’s iOS.
So, what does Windows Metro Style Design entail? What’s with the new app store and how does Windows 8 present itself to developers?
Under the Hood
The new Windows 8 Interface features a touch-friendly, shell and user Interface, Microsoft’s “Metro” design language, an attractive “start screen”, and a Windows app store. Windows’ Metro language and Windows 8 itself runs off modern technologies such as USB 3.0, NFC (Near Field Communications), Cloud Computing, a built-in antivirus, and app synchronization between multiple devices.
Metro style apps come with the brand new user interface, plenty of emphasis on UI chrome, full screen UX/UI, flat colored “live tiles”, touch-centric capabilities, multi-tile view, and much more. It can be packed and distributed through the “Windows Application Store”. Microsoft, as expected, makes it possible to download it in various languages.
Windows 8 Metro Style Apps: A great Opportunity for Developers
It’s inevitable that all new PCs and window-based tablets will move to Windows 8. As that happens, Windows apps will be the mainstay on each of these hardware units sold. According to Erik Sherman of Inc.com, Windows 8 did have a slow start but it doesn’t mean that the behemoth release will be forgotten. In fact, it’ll be a slow but steady ride for Windows 8 and Windows RT (tablet-version of Windows 8).
So, how big is it? Erik alludes to statistics, which reveal that more than 100 million Windows devices will be shipped each quarter. The estimated market is purported to be 200 million by the time this New Year draws to a close.
Of course, size does matter (not withstanding revenues). According to Ingrid Lunden of Techcrunch.com, Windows 8 Apps are particularly strong in serving local markets with the apps. More than 10% of the apps in top 300 rankings are specific to countries. Windows 8 has shipped out more than 40 million licenses already and it continues to grow while a number of developers have already crossed the $25,000 mark to get that juicy 80% profit-retention model that Windows offers.
Windows 8 boasts of anew and hybrid technology featuring a much faster start-up through UEFI integration and the all-new “Hybrid Boot” mode (hibernating the Windows Kernel during shutdown to hasten subsequent boot up processes). It has a new “File Explorer” (you might know it better as Windows Explorer), an overhauled Task manager, and much more.
Further, Windows 8 comes with much stronger safety and security protocols in place including authentication procedures tailored for touchscreens, antivirus, SmartScreen filtering, secure boot, and parental controls.
Applications Powering New Era of Development
Sticking to the Windows environment for now, Windows 7 only had desktop applications for developers to play with. Of course, Windows 8 will carry on the traditional desktop app development but it also has “Metro Design” now which opens up avenues for building apps which you can develop using .Net, C #, VB, C++, HTML, XAML, and Direct 3D.
Metro style design allows you to access accelerating hardware, right out of the box so that you can tune your apps and provide a consistent effect across the platform. The “Connected Standby” feature lets metro applications update even when the computers sleep.
The Growing Windows Store Opportunity
Majority of users worldwide still use Windows and as such, the Windows 8 App store is no kid on the block. Metro app developers have thunderous potential as far as scope and reach are concerned. The reach spreads into 200 countries and more than 100 languages. Windows also has an aggressive pricing model by allowing you to retain 80% of the profits off app (and in-app) purchases by up to 80%.
Windows also has a strong appeal to specific local markets unlike Android apps, which tend to be more general and Apple App store which tends to focus mostly on U.S and other developed markets. Overall, Windows has a far greater reach globally and that means even more exposure to your apps developed on the Metro style for Windows 8.
Build apps and Leave it to Windows
Metro Style design for Windows 8 has a “share Contract” feature where developers who build metro applications can communicate, tweak, and make changes to apps even if they haven’t been developed or even if these apps aren’t live yet as long as applications support the Payload Schema.
Also, developers can go with Windowss “Win as one” model and use the entire Windows eco-system along with the features of Windows 8.
Compatible, All the Way
Metro Style apps are more like widgets, built on Microsoft’s new API. They are cross-platform compatible. Even apps built with the standard x86 – in the old fashioned way – can still work on Windows 8 but they might not be considered as metro apps. If you are a developer, please note that metro apps use the cloud more than ever for data storage. Metro apps are also required to stay open (never quit the app unless you can reboot it with the task manager).
Everything you need. One Place
For developers, it’s another income stream, another business opportunity, a whole new market to venture into, and a spectacular absorption rate thanks to the sheer market share of Microsoft’s Windows.
How are you going to capitalize on this opportunity? Knowing what you do and flexing the skills you have as a developer, how difficult is it to develop great apps based on metro style for windows 8? What do you think about the opportunity metro style apps present to you?
Please share your views with us.