Today I attended the Windows 8 Student Developer Camp at Hull University. It’s all about developing apps for Microsoft’s latest Operating System. It covered several topics such as:
The basics of using the new ‘Metro’ interface in Windows 8
I found this quite interesting as I still haven’t used a Windows 8 computer yet. Not too sure about how the touch gestures translate to the mouse yet, we will see.
The development languages and APIs
I already knew Win8 apps can be written in a few different languages including C#, C++ and HTML5 and they all use the same Windows Runtime which will make things less confusing. It seems like tasks like sharing will be similar to Windows Phone 7, in which they require very little code for the developer to implement which makes things easy. Still nothing on XNA yet :(
Background tasks and screen options
It’s exciting to see how multitasking with the snap feature is implemented and unlike WP7, we get double-length live tiles! :P
User Interface and User Experience
Much of the user interface and layout philosophy Microsoft are using for Metro in Win8 is lifted straight from WP7 so I already knew a lot about how Metro apps should be graphically designed. Before the lecture I was on the side of having chrome (boarders and shading etc.) in programs but now I understand how removing it can help the user focus on the content, which is what’s important in the end. I still think Microsoft have taken it a bit too far and elements of Windows 8 is a washed out because of how much white they’re using. Oh, and toggle switches are built-in to the UI libraries this time :D
The store looks really nice, the layout is great. I really hope there is reliable, accurate stat tracking for apps. The App Hub for Windows Phone gives you slowly updated download numbers, and crash counts that seem to be created from a random number generator. There is the potential to create detailed stats for apps to help developers know who is using their apps and how they use them. This can help make better updates and improve on new apps. Things like use-count, time spent in the app, counties that use the app most often, and even stats about the page where you download the app from like page views. You could see the ratio of who looks at the page to who actually downloads the app. Would it be possible to even have stats about the most used features of the app?
To conclude, I’m definitely more interested in Windows 8 than I was before the event. I was quite skeptical about the blend of old desktop and new Metro, sometimes thoroughly disliking the direction Microsoft were taking their flagship product. I can see high potential though, and am excited to see what happens next with Windows 8 and how I can start building apps for it.