Custom Software Apps & SharePoint Consulting

Wondering How Windows 8 Will Play into Your New App?

Metro style apps and your business

Companies creating a new custom Windows application or considering an update of an existing Windows application should at least consider the unique features of Windows 8.

You can think of Windows 8 as running two separate application eco-systems. One eco-system is very close to Windows 7, and is meant for traditional desktop applications.  In this eco-system we have a task bar, we can run multiple windows in windows, and we have tools similar or identical to what we’re used to in prior versions of Windows (e.g. control panel, task manager, folders and files). Desktop applications built for Windows 8 will also run on prior versions of Windows.

Completely new is the Metro-style eco-system. Applications running in this eco-system are full screen and touch oriented. They are oriented towards data consumption, rather than data production. These apps are meant to be installed via the Windows app store (although there are other options that will become clearer later). Metro-style applications will only run on Windows 8.

The two eco-systems are really quite separate. Metro-style apps don’t show up in the desktop task bar. Desktop-style apps don’t show up in the left-swipe running app list. The sharing and search features don’t apply to desktop-style apps. Metro-style apps are much more constrained than desktop apps, and can’t freely browse the file system or connect to databases.

At first glance, metro-style Windows 8 apps may seem impractical or ill-suited for business applications.

–          Only users running Windows 8 will be able to use them. Unless the entire enterprise upgrades to Windows 8, the application will have a limited user base.

–          Most business applications will need to access the files and databases where their enterprise data resides. Metro-style apps have very limited access to these resources.

Don’t judge the Metro style app too quickly though! Upon further investigation there are growing industry drivers for change, and as we move further into the field, and users become more distinctly separated into either consumers or producers of data, the separation between metro apps and more traditional apps will match that of producers or consumers of information. Check back next week, as we will take a closer inspection of the benefits and uses of this new format.

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