Windows 8 – A Developer’s Viewpoint

So the word is out, hopefully we will see Windows 8 before the end of the year 2012. The newly refreshed Windows 8 sports a new front end called the Metro UI and seems to be either good or bad depending on who you speak to or read about. Like all new operating system releases there is much speculation on how much has changed from the previous version Windows 7 and if in fact it is worth the upgrade. Here is my review of Windows 8, from the viewpoint of a software developer.

Windows 8 has a much smaller footprint in disk storage. This begs the question: is Windows 7 bloated or did the programming staff at Microsoft actually take a long look at what is necessary to run a good clean system with minimal hiccups. I believe it is the latter, Microsoft can ill afford another Vista disaster.

This smaller footprint also includes less RAM usage and from some of the blogs I have been reading the new OS will run in as little as 128 MB of memory. Sounds like the old days when Windows 95, and 98 were around. I believe that there may be more disk caching since the SSD technology allows for a more robust on-disk swap system.

Hopefully this smaller memory usage as well as a small disk presence will translate into a faster cleaner more reliable operating system. Windows 7 has been a workhorse for me and I have had the privilege to write software on it from almost its outset. I never used Vista and they had to pry XP from my cold programmers fingers in order for me to even look at Windows 7.

I find one of the most interesting aspects of Windows 8 is the fact that the push for application programming is now HTML5/JavaScript. What a wonderful combination to write clean apps that will run under the careful eye of a translator/engine. Programming has become more of collaboration between graphics and application in contrast to what it can be which a struggle between optimization and UI. The software developers kit (SDK) helps ease the port to the scripting world of HTML5/JavaScript.

Traveling to the Microsoft website there are three downloads for the SDK. The first is a 48 megabyte graphics package that “.psd assets include templates, common controls, and common components such as contracts, notifications, and tiles.”. There is a link that includes a step by step approach to building Metro style applications. Secondly there is a wonderful 200 sample pack which can give you kind of a jump start into the application world of Metro. Finally there is the ‘Live’ SDK that allows your applications to seamlessly integrate with Microsoft’s SkyDrive and cloud technology.

There is so much more that can be said from the developers standpoint but it is exciting to be part of the Microsoft world. I have always found them to be very open for their developers and have always given me the tools and information I have needed when writing my applications. I hope you will find Windows 8 as stimulating as I have.

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