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Codename Windows 8 – lots of Windows Phone 7 influences

Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky announced some details about the next version of Windows codename Windows 8. There are some very cool features and clearly a shift to a “Touch First” UI which means that we won’t struggle to use touch with Windows 8 as with Windows 7.

Check out the video to see some of these improvements and features.

Some highlights for me:

  • HTML5 and Javascript centric
  • Tile based UI
  • Appears to be adopting hub based approach all photos in one place
  • Multitasking is Windows 7 but touch enabled – very nice!
  • Touch UI / UX appears very slick and similar to the recently announced BlackBerry PlayBook with menus appearing from the side. 
  • Two types of apps, the classic desktop apps and the new HTML5 based Windows 8 apps. 
  • Ergonomic virtual touch keyboard
  • Touch centric browser in Internet Explorer 10

The well-received Windows Phone 7 experience clearly has influenced some of these initial ideas based on the screenshots of the Lock, Start screens and example Weather App.

LockStartFullscreenappsErgokeyb

I am looking forward to seeing Windows 8 on a real tablet device as this is where Microsoft need to make this work and gain tablet share.

 

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Why developers are one of the key factors to future Windows Phone 7 success?

IDC and Gartner are both predicting a very bright future for Windows Phone 7 by 2015. The position of Windows Phone 7 will be #2 behind the Android platform with iOS at #3.

Wp7gartner

When Windows Phone 7 was announced I remember many analysts including a specific Gartner one suggesting that Windows Phone 7 would be a minor player. Based on my experience of the Microsoft ecosystem there was one factor even back then that I thought would contribute to the success of the platform and that was developers. Whilst this may seem obvious I have experienced some of the challenges developing for other platforms and their app stores.

The Microsoft development community are :

  1. Passionate
  2. A highly prized commodity in terms of their availability and the salaries paid
  3. Backed by feature rich tooling e.g. Visual Studio and good support (from Microsoft and the wider developer community)

The value of these developers was apparent when the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace became the fastest App Store to 10000 applications http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2381860,00.asp UPDATE: It has now become the fastest to 15000 applications.

Other less obvious factors which will contribute to the momentum are:

  1. Availability of starter versions of Visual Studio for hobbyists
  2. DreamSpark (https://www.dreamspark.com/) which gives students Microsoft development tools FREE
  3. Changes made to the Marketplace including 70% of application revenues go to the developer
  4. The ability for end users to trial an application before buying
  5. Good developers can develop Windows Phone 7 applications faster compared to other platforms (generally)

Whilst on the topic of students, this lot have created a BAFTA nominated game for the Windows Phone 7 called Mush http://www.angrymangogames.com/ I played a pre-release version and it is a beautifully crafted game. I am looking forward to its release. 

Mush

A recent survey http://bit.ly/hyWLfF suggests that Microsoft need to do more get developers “interested” in their platform which means it has some work to do here.

Recent developments such as the tie-up with Nokia and the upcoming ‘Mango’ release will help to grow market share for Windows Phone 7 but will the platform push past iOS and attempt to dent Android’s dominance as predicted?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/anbd 30/idc_smartphone_projections/ (IDC)

http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1622614 (Gartner)