Richard Campbell on Windows 8, and C#

The Best of Build with Richard Campbell

On October 4, 2011, Richard Campbell presented in BCIT the highlights of this year’s Windows BUILD conference, as well as added a few of his own insights about the direction of Windows and Microsoft.

The first and most apparent change in Windows 8 is the user interface. Richard showed Windows 8 on the new Samsung tablet, and demonstrated its usability. In Windows 8, everything is considered to be an application, including the traditional desktop. The main screen is similar to a mobile device; it displays icons of the installed applications. The desktop is one of these applications, and by clicking on the Start Menu the user is taken back to the main screen. This main screen is Windows Metro, a new design language that features a simpler and cleaner user interface. Microsoft is pushing Metro as the new way of designing their products, which will rely on WinRT, or Windows Runtime. WinRT is the new programming model that simplifies the interfacing between languages and platforms, consisting of services.

Everything that runs in Windows today will be supported in Windows 8. Silverlight is not going to be phased out, but Richard speculates that it will not go past Silverlight 6. XAML, HTML 5, and CSS 3 will be significant for providing the user interface, and Javascript, C++, C#, and .NET 4.5 will be support the model control. The stack will be the same, but Windows 8 is focusing on separating the CLR (Common Language Runtime) and the different programming languages.

Windows is also introducing an “App Store”, for both desktop applications and mobile applications. Unlike the Android store, these App Store will be curated, and Microsoft will be just as responsible as the developers for any bad or malicious apps. The Internet Explorer 10 app is completely chromeless and does not support plug-ins. However, running Internet Explorer 10 on the desktop will allow plug-ins, and will feel like IE does now with the traditional chrome.

Richard also talked about the popularity of Windows 8. He explained that because many companies didn’t switch to Vista, they waited until Windows 7 to be released. Now that these companies are finally set up with Windows 7, they won’t want to switch again once Windows 8 comes out, and instead wait for Windows 9. Therefore, Windows 8 is directed at the consumer, and Windows 9 will be directed at enterprises.

C# and MS Expression Blend Preview in Windows 8

On September 7, Microsoft announced that Expression Blend Preview for Silverlight 5 is available. MS Expression Blend Preview provides support for creating Silverlight 5 projects, including Silverlight 5 SketchFlow projects. Expression Blend Preview for Silverlight 5 installs side-by-side with Expression Blend 4.

Expression Blend Preview for Silverlight 5 supports only Silverlight 5 projects. For Silverlight 3 and 4 projects or WPF 3.5 and 4, please use Expression Blend 4.

You can download it from Microsoft downlaod center:

C# and Silverlight 5 RC in Windows 8

Microsoft has delivered a new release candidate (RC) of Silverlight 5, a tool for creating and delivering rich Internet media and applications. C# 4 and C# 5 are still the most effective languages for writing the Silverlight 5 RC applications.

Pete Brown, the leader of Microsoft’s Developer Guidance Community Team in September 2011, said the Silverlight 5 RC is now available as a developer-only release, and is preparing developers for the final release later this year.

Silverlight 5 builds on the foundation of Silverlight 4 for building business applications and rich media experiences. Among other capabilities, the Silverlight 5 RC has modified video quality and performance, along with other features that improve developer productivity.
These include reduced network latency by using a background thread for networking; XAML parser improvements that speed up start-up and run-time performance; support for 64-bit operating systems; and reduced network latency by using a background thread for networking.

Does the Async CTP work with Silverlight 5 RC?

The Async CTP may work with Silverlight 5 RC, but according to Microsoft’s Stephen Toub, works effectively with Slivelight 5 Beta. The recommended procedure is to up a system with Visual Studio 2010 SP1, and install Silverlight 5 Beta and the Async CTP. After all of these installations are completed successfully, you will be able to successfully create and run new SL5 projects that uses Async CTP.

Windows 8 and Future of C#

In Windows 8, C# will be used in writing applications or invoking Jupiter-based applications on the Jupiter platform.

What is Jupiter?

Jupiter is a programming platform that Microsoft will use to leverage applications for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone in the near future. It is a new user interface library for Windows. Although different from Silverlight or WPF, it will be fully compatible with both, and will use IE 10’s rendering engine. Using a XAML-based framework, it will provide access to Windows 8 elements, like sensors and networking. Jupiter apps will be packaged as AppX application types that could be common to both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. The AppX format is universal, and can used to deploy native Win32 apps, framework-based apps (Silverlight, WPF), Web apps, and games.

What is AppX?

AppX is a tight specification that describes how applications are packaged and installed, and was likely inspired by Silverlight’s XAP files.
Although Windows 8 will change many components of applications like how they are written and distributed, AppX is only concerned with the deployment aspect of applications.
AppX packages require an XML manifest file named AppXManifest.xml. In this file, developers will have to specify many compulsory and optional attributes of their application, which is much more than the current requirements in Windows Phone 7.

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