Pastimes : Windows 8
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To: zax who wrote (61)2/18/2012 11:56:58 AM
From: Eric L1 Recommendation  Read Replies (2) of 357
Windows 8 Metro/Desktop ('MetroTop'): WOA, Secret APIs, Evil Empires and Suchwhat ...

Third party developers face a problem when it comes to Windows 8 on ARM (WOA). The "MetroTop" - part Metro part desktop apps that run on any ARM-based Windows 8 device rely on an API that is available only to Microsoft. Is this deliberate policy and can it be tolerated? ... There could well be technical reasons why Microsoft isn't keen on allowing the details of the MetroTop API out into the wide world. It might well be that converting the Win32 API to ARM is very messy and best kept hidden, but to use it internally and deny others access is a return to the ways of the evil empire, even if unintentionally. - I-Programmer, 17 February -


Your yesterday post to this board points up a potentially controversial aspect of Win8 WOA. In that post you highlighted and reembeded the link to a Tuesday I-Programmer article by Ian Elliot titled "Mozilla Plans Metro Firefox For Windows 8" ...

That linked article contains a link to a MozillaWiki for a proposed Windows 8 Metro-specific Gecko based Firefox browser that would be integrated with the Metro environment bringing all of the Gecko capabilities to the new environment with the assumption that the proposed browser would run "as a Medium integrity app so that it can access all of the win32 Firefox Gecko libraries avoiding a port to the new WinRT API for the bulk of existing code" ...

There is an even earlier I-Programmer article from last Saturday that should be read to paint a more complete but still foggy picture of issues attendant ...

>> Windows 8 For ARM Is Something New

Alex Armstrong
Saturday, 11 February 2012

... <snip> ... you can still create any apps you want for the Windows desktop. but these won't run on WOA or any Windows 8 tablet based on an ARM processor. The only desktop apps that will be available on WOA will be specially constructed by Microsoft and its partners... <snip rest>.

Paul Thurrott. the coauthor of "Windows 8 Secrets" rather commonsensibly "steps back", sums things up, and suggests we "stop trying to read between the lines of Microsoft's obtuse public declarations, and think about what Microsoft is really doing with Windows on ARM rather than overthnking issues at this stage ...

>> Windows 8 Secrets: Understanding WOA

Paul Thurrott
Supersite for Windows
Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sometimes, even the simplest of generalities makes sense. The trouble is, in our search for higher meaning, we often overlook the most obvious truths of all.

With that in mind, I wanted to step back for a second, stop trying to read between the lines of Microsoft's obtuse public declarations, and think about what it is that the software giant is really doing with Windows on ARM, or WOA.

And really, it's very simple: WOA is for consumers and x86/x64-based PCs are for business.

Now, chances are, you're thinking one of two things. The first goes something like, duh Paul, obviously. The second one involves poking holes in this statement as is finding a loophole will somehow disprove the rule.

But don't be pedantic. And while I realize this doesn't make for much of an epiphany, it really is that simple.

As you know, Microsoft will have two different user experiences in Windows 8, the new Metro-style UI that's defined by WinRT, the Start screen, and Metro style apps, and the classic Windows desktop, with its Win32-based Explorer applications. These user experiences are discrete and different, and moving between them is jarring. There's no seamless integration between them either: You can't, for example, take advantage of WinRT Contracts from a classic desktop application. They're essentially two separate environments, to the user.

So with a WOA-based device, the primary user experience is going to be Metro, with its friendly and simple touch-first UI. The desktop will be secondary and used less frequently. You know, in general.

With an x86/x64-based PC, the general overall experience will be reversed: Mostly the desktop, with just some Metro. That may change over time, and there are always exceptions--and edge cases, like desktop PCs with touch screens--but stay on target, people. We're speaking generally here.

And let's be clear, WOA-based devices are indeed devices. They're designed as sealed environments, with third party desktop application development and deployment purposefully prevented so as not to muddy the waters. If you as a developer wants to target this new generation of devices, you need to go Metro. Period. If you as a user want to find and buy new apps, you go to the Windows Store. And you get Metro apps.

There will be exceptions from a usage perspective, like the WOA slate devices that come with clip-on keyboards or hybrid laptops with flip-around screens. But the people who use such devices are as versatile as are these types of devices. That is, few people really just a consumer or just a business user. Instead, we move in and out of these personas over the course of the day. So will such devices.

For consuming entertainment, light web browsing, email, and Facebook interaction, a slate-type WOA device will be just fine. And yes, that's enough even for some people in a work environment. But for much actual work, including content creation, a keyboard and precision pointing device (mouse/keyboard) will be required. Need a legacy Windows application? You need a real PC, not a WOA device.

Metro targets the consumer end nicely, and we already know that the classic desktop works well for business/content creation use. There will be pure WOA devices, with no keyboard or mouse. There will be WOA devices with clip-on or Bluetooth accessories. There will be laptops and desktops with touch screens. System on a Chip (SoC) designs based on Intel platforms. All kinds of things that hit the gray areas. I get it.

But speaking generally, those devices that expand beyond what I call a pure WOA device (i.e. thin and light slates) aren't devices anymore, they're PCs. And when you use a device like that, your use of traditional desktop applications will likely increase. When you don't, when you just use a WOA slate as you would an iPad, it's just a device, and you will stick largely to Metro.

If I could head off into speculation land a bit, I think one could make a case for Microsoft branding its WOA-based systems as being some form of Windows Home Edition while its x86/x64-based offering could be in the Professional Edition camp (or whatever). This not only ties nicely into long-running branding norms for Windows, but it also neatly differentiates the two versions. You want to work? You can sort of do it with Home Edition, sure, but if you're serious, you're really going to want to go with Professional.

Consumer vs. work. Home vs. business. Consumption vs. content creation. However you break it down, the message is still the same. WOA is for the former, and x86/x64 PCs are for the latter. Again, generally speaking.

I know, I know. It's almost too simple. But sometimes it's better not to overthink things.

WOA is for consumers and x86/x64-based PCs are for business. ###

Rather obviously Microsoft gains a theoretical advantage over competing iOS or Android based slates by bringing full fledged versions of Office and IE 10 desktop applications to market with Win8 WOA. They'll need it since both iOS and Android are already well entrenched in a nascent but rapidly growing market that they currently don't compete in. I suspect that eventually Microsoft will enable others (probably very select others) to bring alternatives (the Mozilla Firefox & Office Libre projects, e.g.) to do likewise but I also suspect it would simply bog them down at the moment.

- Eric -
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