Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The BUILD Report #1: Sinofsky keynote


Here’s my unedited feed/stream-of-consciousness from the cheap seats in the arena where Steven Sinofsky is giving his Win8 Keynote.

Build Keynote from cheap seats

Sinovsky opens touting WIn 7 and IE 9 market success to date.

Claims touch is so compelling that once you have it on your screen you’ll want on all screens; not my experience in the last year … and that’s not because it doesn’t work. Don’t like leaving the keyboard. As the demos proceed, I start to wonder if I’m going to have to use touch to use Win8. See below

Emphasizes that no matter how new Win8 is, everything running on Win7 will run on it. Reiterated throughout the keynote. That’s important to business which must migrate more slowly and a strong contrast with Apple. Means you can be sure the .NET apps you write today will have a good run on the next h/w and OS.

Win8 memory footprint and CPU efficiency improves on Win 7 … by a lot. That’s encouraging again for companies with tight capital budgeting.

Julie Larson-Green demos. Nice “picture password” = gesture login. No password … just gestures. Sweet. Audience applauds. Twitterverse agrees. Business should like too.

The demo is all touch. It’s a little balky but that’s not what concerns me. I’m not sure I want to interact this way. Great for casual user (consumer) but, when you live on a computer, do you want to touch? Maybe I’m freaking out prematurely. It’s not that much different from using a mouse. They recognize my anxiety and reassure us that keyboard and mouse are there for everything. Later, S “I’m a keyboard person” reiterates and demos later (although he does mouse in his demo).

The “chrome-free” browser gag went over well. But it really IS nice that the IE browser has no chrome. Very metro … and the cleanliness works (despite the onstage demo struggles).

The “fast and fluid” principle is more than fluff. It’s a design principle that makes a genuine difference in comfort. Shown effectively in Julie’s demo.

“How to build”

S: “You pick the language/platform you want to use”. Windows Runtime (WinRT) with client tech (HTML, C++, C#/VB) riding above without privileging any one of them. S. reiterates this point several times throughout, trying to drive that home.

The first development demo starts with JavaScript templates in VS. That might make a XAML worrier nervous. But I’m convinced that S means it and that XAML is first class. The port of the Silverlight 2 demo was effective (note to self: what am I to make of a port of Silverlight TWO). This is a big deal to “my people” so I’ll be talking more about that for sure.

Metro is the privileged design language … which is a good thing for business app devs as I’ve said elsewhere before.


“Windows” javascript api grants access to the OS somehow, as in “Windows.Storage.Pickers.FileOpen …”

Big cheers for Blend as an HTML/JS tool. Expected, sure, but it’s still important. The layout ease, the Metro-built-in is nice and productive. Some noise about how this isn’t new in the world. So what. The issues isn’t whether it breaks ground but whether it delivers on the productivity promise. Looks like it will.

The write-build-show cycle is crisp.

Windows App Store: Store menu in Visual Studio. Built-in licensing model includes trials (but can put your own in). That shows seriousness. They will have a certification process. What about bureaucracy (we know how ugly that is in WP7)? They hope they can allay with (a) a process queue and (b) automated compliance checking tools [big applause for that one]. Now making it easier to find s/w in categories (a problem in today’s WP7 marketplace).

The Win App Store is written in HTML/JS. They ballyhooed as a vote-of-confidence in that app technology. Is there a reason it should be HTML/JS? It could only host apps for Windows platform so no x-plat justification. Could have been … should have been? … in Silverlight.

So what about deployment of LOB apps in the metro/immersive app environment.

XAML segment

Sinofsky cheer leads. That’s important to dispelling the belief/suspicion that S hates .NET.

Nice job of taking an old SL2 Gu app and migrating to Win8 w/o changing the app itself.

Then metro-izes by swapping one XAML control for a new Win8 grid control + 2 lines of code-behind + manifest tweak to make it searchable in Win8 => looks metro. Nice. Search and runnable from the dekstop.

This deployment is to the NEW Win8 look. In the prior Win8 show, they created fear that would only run in the old Win7 shell. This time, not seeing an old shell. Only showing one shell. AND XAML apps run in it. I couldn’t see any distinction between HTML and XAML app in the shell.

Another tweak and it runs in the phone. Very nice. Ok, demo alert, right? It won’t be that easy in reality. That doesn’t diminish the direction; they are putting their back into making XAML apps metro and their deployment easy with tooling.

S emphasizes again that Win8 is supportive of your technology choice.

The sensor fusion stuff could get you thinking about how tilting the tablet could be used in a bus app UX. It’s easy enough to justify exploring it and using it without fear that you’ve saddled the non-geek dev with incomprehensible, maintenance problem. NFC (near field communication) support makes it easier to write apps that interact with the physical world. POS and field inspection apps come to mind.

Renovated OS tools

Control Panel, Task Manager, PC Reset … just plain nice for developers. Hyper-V in the Windows client.ISO mounting built-in.

“Ease of Access” support could matter to those of you who have regulatory requirements affecting your app’s UX.

Ink / Touch disambiguation revives pen and the accuracy that comes with it. Take that, Steven Jobs.

Windows Live is the backbone of the roaming features with which you propagate settings across devices.

Cloud Integration

Chris Jones talking about Cloud Services. The mail client is HTML/JS … as it should be as it must be x-plat. The app metro design is straight out of WP7 mail app. It certainly is responsive. But have to say that some of the views are clunky.

The WP7 hub paradigm is now on Windows Live. People, Photos, Mail. The hub paradigm works; this is a great move.

“Every Win8 user has a SkyDrive”. Of course that is great for consumers. But this could be a terrific guarantee for bus. app developers too … assuming that business allows that kind of personalization in the app. When you know that SkyDrive is there, the integration is there, and it’s easy to reach … you can consider making that integral to the app w/o worrying if the user is configured for it … because she always is.

I don’t think it’s Drop Box (no auto synchronization), but its great ‘cause it’s in there. Now what about security? I haven’t been that careful with my Live password. Time to get serious. Would need to work on that if I was building Windows Live into my application assumptions.

Not available today? The APIs are there today but we’ll have to wait a little for the releases in the cloud … and that’s ok.

The Big Giveaway

Hard to deny the enthusiasm for the Samsung tablet – an Opra moment.

The Mom Factor

Dan Wahlin told me (I paraphrase) “My mom would love Windows 8 – she would get it – and that’s important to the Microsoft business application developer. The Microsoft platform has to succeed broadly; if the consumer deserts Microsoft, so … ultimately … would business apps.”

I agree strongly.

Release Schedule

The “Preview” looks impressive… for a preview. S says “No release date because driven by quality, not the date”. Sure … but I get the feeling it won’t be far off. They’re going wide tonight (8 pm PST) at dev.windows.com. No activation. That’s a strong statement because you know how many people are going to write apps on that preview in volume.


Rob Eisenberg said...

Unfortunately, I had to read your blog to know what happened this miorning ;) Thanks! See you shortly!

Matt Casto said...

Great point about getting serious with our Live IDs. I hope Microsoft will add more security around these IDs like Google did with their two-step authentication.