The highly anticipated, greatly hyped Windows 8 is finally almost here. Microsoft has released its latest operating system to manufacturers and set the launch date for October 26, 2012. Through various previews and pre-releases over the preceding year, it’s been building a lot of excitement in the Windows and PC communities. However, the fundamental structural changes made to Windows 8 have also triggered a fair amount of anxiety and concern among ISVs and those in charge of developing and supporting software products running in Windows environments. Apart from the need to ensure your software is compatible with the new version of Windows, the time before the launch provides a perfect opportunity for you to leverage and integrate into your solutions, the new features and user interface of Windows 8.
The highly anticipated tiled default interface (previously referred to as the Metro UI) of Windows 8 is bound to be a big change for Windows users. The new Metro UI platform provides an opportunity to increase your software’s cross-device compatibility, as
only Metro UI apps are guaranteed to work across Microsoft PCs, tablets, and phones, and provide relevant live data and updates visible to the users via “Live Tiles” – tiles on the Metro Start menu that work like widgets. Creative use of this interface by your application will provide an excellent opportunity to increase its popularity and visibility. Microsoft is working on providing even better integration and ubiquity for Metro UI apps across its entire line of products, and arguably legacy Windows desktop apps could be obsolete in a few years.
Since Windows 8 is designed to be tablet and touch sensitive, your application’s touch-readiness compared to your competition could be a deal-breaker or a deal-maker. If your software has good potential usability in the tablet arena, changes to make the application more touch-friendly will ensure its success in this new and changing application market. The tablet revolution is definitely here and has finally entered the mainstream PC market, led by Microsoft’s flagship Surface tablet.The future growth of Windows devices will be increasingly in the tablet space, so making software more tablet-friendly should be definitely on the road-map for any ISV or software.
Along with the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft is heavily promoting the use of Windows Store as a way for consumers to access new applications developed for Windows, especially Metro UI apps. While not all applications lend themselves to be distributed to general users through the Windows Store, it’s the future of consumer application distribution so it must be in the minds of Product Managers developing for the Windows marketplace. Most importantly, the Windows Store is the only way for users to download Metro UI apps, so familiarity is a must.
There are several other valuable new features that make a compelling case for Windows users to upgrade in both the consumer and enterprise segments. Windows To Go allows Enterprise users to easily copy and replicate their favorite Windows environment on another device by using a CD or a USB device. Support of new Network Authentication types will make Windows 8 devices more portable by allowing them to roam from one WiFi network to another network much like a cellphone roams from one cell tower to another. Refresh and Reset features simplify recovering Windows to an earlier state, saving time and effort for IT pros and users. This feature has better support for Metro style apps, so there’s another reason to convert apps from traditional interface to a Metro UI interface. The traditional BIOS is finally being replaced by Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) to allow for faster boot times – even the slowest computers, can now boot in a matter of seconds, not minutes. Lastly, virtualization gets a boost with the availability of Client Hyper-V.
All of the above makes it a must for you to take a serious look at getting your software ready for Windows 8 if you haven’t already done so. Windows 8 isn’t simply another upgrade to Windows – it’s a major leap forward for Microsoft, changing the way consumers will interact with their PCs, with a new emphasis on mobility and touch. So our advice is, don’t get left behind!