What’s the chatter about Windows 8, Windows 8 Surface, Windows 8 Phones & the new development technologies

Well, the last few weeks had been exciting with the release of information related to Windows Surface & Windows Phone 8. I was following these releases and noticed the chatter around the new devices from Microsoft. Here is some of the info related to the same.

5 ways Microsoft’s Surface may be better than an iPad:
http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/19/tech/microsoft-surface-ipad/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

Windows 8 is an Android killer : http://www.kernelmag.com/comment/opinion/2432/no-but-for-reals/

Microsoft’s Surface tablet vs. the iPad: Seven challenges: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-33642_7-57456140-292/microsofts-surface-tablet-vs-the-ipad-seven-challenges/

Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304765304577478283669023576.html

Windows 8 is, in my humble opinion, the most innovative version of Windows Microsoft has released since Windows 95. What Windows 8 does, says Mr. Courtois, is to bring a consistency to all of Microsoft’s products. The "metro" interface, with its innovative live tiles design, is a bold departure for Microsoft from its familiar and iconic desktop. The one interface to bind them all—desktop, tablet, smartphone, X-Box, even TV—is what Mr. Courtois is hoping, and Mr. Elop is praying, will get people to buy Windows-powered mobile phones.

Personally, I very much appreciate what Microsoft is trying to do with Windows 8. I’ve noticed many improvements from the Developer Preview to the Release Preview and I believe they will reveal some interesting surprises in the final version. I very much understand and appreciate Microsoft’s end goal – one operating system and one experience on all your devices: your phone, your Xbox, your desktop, your laptop, your tablet, your hybrid computing device you don’t yet know how it looks like. If they succeed with this vision, they will change how we use computers and devices forever.

With the new kernel, Microsoft is also enabling the creation of native code applications written in C++ for the first time on Windows Phone. In version 7.5, all applications are developed in C# or Visual Basic .NET and compiled to platform-independent bytecode. While this has proven easy to use and attractive to many developers, it makes it hard for game developers to eke out all the performance the hardware can offer. It also precludes the use of useful libraries that developers on iOS, Android, and Windows can take advantage of.

Windows Phone 8’s native code support addresses both issues. Native code development will produce programs that run directly on the ARM processors that Windows Phone supports. This should boost performance, and will greatly extend source code compatibility with other platforms.

The trend of "Bring Your Own Device" causes both IT and compliance departments numerous headaches. It is one thing for the IT department to support the CEO’s iPad, but with the explosion of devices, operating systems and services, how CIOs must yearn for the day when they could issue recruits with a company laptop and a company phone and it was all integrated. That is the promise of Windows 8; it puts the IT department back in control, just like the good old days.

"We are providing an end-to-end managed infrastructure to allow any enterprise, large or small… to manage all kind of devices and all kinds of applications in a secure way,"

Microsoft takes matters into its own hands.  It uses an ARM processor to compete on price, and an Intel processor to ride its Office monopoly.  These are not dumb moves.

Surface for Windows Pro also features the ability to use Digital Ink with pen input. During the announcement, it was noted that the distance between the stylus and the screen is .7mm. Surface for Windows Pro also features a microSDXC slot and a USB 3.0 port instead, and is slightly thicker at 13.5 mm.

Surface represents a major shift in strategy for the Microsoft Windows business unit. For years, OEM partners like HP, ASUS, and Dell, provided the hardware. Now Microsoft will be competing directly, particularly in the Ultrabook segment of the market.

Surface is notably competing directly with Apple‘s iPad, and doesn’t stop short with building a competitive set of features. In addition to its primary hardware specs, Surface also features a built in kickstand, which essentially turns the tablet into a monitor, and also a 3mm thin case that includes a multitouch keyboard. As no one does keyboards better than Microsoft, yet another keyboard is also available for Surface that features a full trackpad with clicking buttons. Though Surface is slightly heavier than the iPad and has 25% less battery size (31.5 Watt hours compared to the iPad’s 42.5 Watt hours), Surface is truly one of the most powerful and lightweight mobile PCs we have seen.

It’s clear that Surface is designed for current Windows users, and according to NetMarketshare, Windows XP, Vista, and 7 combine for 93% of all desktops. For these users – especially those in the corporate environment – there is a hesitation to switch to another platform, even just for mobile use. As a result, Surface could be a game-changer in the tablet industry. Not only does it feature key capabilities that Apple has yet to ever integrate (such as a keyboard), but Surface will undoubtedly make it easier for curent Windows users to transition from home to office and in-between. While a price has yet to be set, it’s expected to be extremely competitive compared to other tablets, ensuring that Surface is a device that many current Windows users will want to own.

Shared Windows core

Our biggest platform-related revelation last week was that Windows Phone 8 is built on a single shared code with Windows 8. This benefits every player in the ecosystem—end users, OEMs, mobile operators, and of course app developers.

So what does it mean for you? First, it means that your apps will be running on the same base platform that powers a billion PCs around the world and will provide your apps with a stable, high-performance core on top of next-generation hardware. More directly, it means that you’ll be able to share a significant amount of code between your Windows 8 apps and your Windows Phone 8 apps, in many cases only adjusting for the screen size differences between slates and phones.

Native code support

As I mentioned, one of the significant benefits of a shared Windows core is the ease of portability between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. We also know that the most popular way to ensure portability across numerous devices is to encapsulate most of an app’s logic in platform-independent native code. That’s one of the main reasons we’ve announced that Windows Phone 8 will support C++ and C.

I know many of you have questions about the implications. For example, over the last few days I’ve seen developers asking whether this means they can mix C#/XAML with DirectX/C++ or consume native C++ libraries from C# apps. Absolutely! You can mix the code as well as the UI (one element in XAML, another in DirectX).

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