I just got home from Antwerp, where I watched the //build/ keynote together with some other developers. Courtesy of Azug, the Belgian Azure User Group (thanks, Maarten Balliauw for organizing and Centric for hosting!)
For those of you that don’t know, //build/ is Microsoft’s annual five day event for developers. Traditionally, during the keynote, Microsoft Senior developers get a chance to explain Microsoft’s vision, their roadmap and guidelines for the following year(s). This year, more than ever, the expectation was high. We already know major parts of Windows 8 have been developed in HTML5, does this mean they have turned their back on the ever so loyal XAML community? Would Microsoft finally break silence and take a stand on the Silverlight vs HTML5 war?
Thankfully, they did. The biggest surprise, however, is that they didn’t pick side. Well, they picked both sides… Well… All sides.
World, meet Windows 8. W8, meet world.
If you hurry up, you can download the Windows 8 Developers preview tonight (in 3 hours at the time of writing), and this could be your new desktop.
My first impression? Comparing the user interface experience of windows 95 to windows 7, not that much has fundamentally changed. Not as much as the difference between W7 and W8. Microsoft decided to boldly take a whole new direction. Everything’s connected and available at the touch of your finger. Microsofts W8 vision, in my opinion: “It’s all one”.
Desktop vs touchpad?
Doesn’t matter. It’s all one. Windows 8 is fully touchscreen enabled. Multi touch even. You can use a desktop with mouse, desktop with touchscreen, touchpad, or even their new “armpad”. And although nothing was announced, I’ll be happy to make a bet that Windows Phone will “soon” be running the exact same operating system.
Silverlight or HTML5?
DVD or ClickOnce?
Neither. Once you are done developing your application, just build it into a W8 application and send it to the brand new (W8) AppStore! One place to look for apps, one place to install from, one place to distrubute your application to 400+million Windows users.
Desktop or web application?
Stop thinking about “desktop” or “web” applications. In the end, whatever your technology of choice, it’s all one: Windows8 applications. They are all accessible through the tiles that form your W8 desktop, and they are all connected.
It gets even better…
LightSwitch or Facebook?
Does it really matter whether it’s a photo album on Facebook, a subfolder in your “My Pictures” folder on your local harddisk, a folder on your work pc (connected via Windows SkyDrive), or an employee picture in your LightSwitch application? It shouldn’t. In the end, you are talking about collections of images. And when you open a FileDialog in WinRT from your LightSwitch application, to select a picture, that’s exactly what you’ll see. Photo albums.
And that’s how all of those tiles you see on your W8 background, are connected. It’s all one. Your albums.
Or vice versa, from another application to yours. Press WindowsKey+F to search for “Joe”, and the WinRT makes it possible to find a folder on your pc, a contact in your “people”, a picture in your “photo albums”, an mp3 in your music collection, a high score in your Angry Birds game, and an employee in your LightSwitch application.
It’s all connected. It’s all one.
So… What about the future of LightSwitch? Silverlight or HTML5?
Personally, I’m thrilled about the new direction Microsoft is heading. As worried as I was about the future of Silverlight, and thus our beloved LightSwitch, I am now excited. The future of LightSwitch is looking brighter than ever.
Stop thinking in terms of desktop or web apps. Stop thinking in terms of TouchPad or desktop. Stop thinking about Silverlight or HTML5. Stop thinking about FaceBook friends, Outlook Contacts or your LightSwitch applications customers.