Custom Software Apps & SharePoint Consulting

Windows 8 versus Traditional Mobile Platforms

Last week we covered some of the reasons a company would use create a Metro Style application in the business world. This week, we’d like to cover why you might choose Windows 8 as the platform for your information consuming (versus producing) employees.

With the ubiquity of smart phones and tablets, technology decision makers have many options for deploying mobile apps. The app could be designed to target a specific device/OS, such as Android, iOS for iPhone or iPad, and now Windows 8. The app could also be built as a web application designed for use on a phone or tablet. Why target Windows 8 instead of another mobile platform?

If your company already has an investment in Microsoft development technologies, developing Metro-style apps allows developers to use the tools and languages they are used to. Metro-style apps are developed in Visual Studio and Blend. They can be written using any .NET language,  C++, and HTML5/javascript. The enterprise can leverage its existing investments in software and resources.

A trickier question is why one would develop a Metro-style app instead of a tablet-friendly web application. We believe that there are differentiating features of Windows 8 and Metro applications that make it preferable.

Differentiating Features

Windows 8 offers many compelling features that could be useful for many business applications. Here are just a few:

Sharing is easy

When running a Metro Style application, users can click “Share” on the Charms bar (new Windows 8 navigation bar). This allows them to see if any other apps that are running have data to share. This could be very useful for a business with a custom app, as it would allow data to be easily shared back and forth between apps, custom or otherwise.

Searching is quick

While running one app, a user can search all the other apps in the system. This can save time switching back and forth between apps looking for information.

Grabbing user attention is improved

Windows 8 has several novel ways to get the attention of a user:  tile messages,  badges and toasts. With these, alerts can be displayed directly on the tile used to launch an app, through an icon displayed on the start tile, or unobtrusive pop-ups in whatever app is currently running. This could allow important business information to be conveyed that much faster since there are so many ways to grab the user’s attention.

Worth the switch?

The flexibility of coding languages and ease of sharing, searching and user notification all could add up to savings in time and efficiency for both the developer of the application and the user. For businesses with employees already using a tablet or planning to switch to one soon, these savings could add up enough to justify using the Metro Style for your next custom enterprise app.

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