So day 1 of Microsoft Build has come and nearly gone, and it’s time to reflect on what’s shaped up to be an exciting day. At one point a speaker eluded to today as being the first day of a computing history revolution. I’m admittedly paraphrasing, but it’s interesting and while some might say I’m simply buying into the propaganda, I think Microsoft might be right about this. While it’s easy to look at the iPad and Android slates and say “they already did this”, I think that’s selling short the innovation the was on display today.
I’m not going to recap the keynote (you can watch that here), but I’ll just say that it just seemed to “feel right”. I grew up with the command line, grew into the mouse and keyboard GUI and am just now starting to slowly adopt a new shift in usage paradigm. But the thing that Microsoft has pulled off here is that it’s not a one-size do-it-our-way-or-no-way computing model. Instead they’ve acknowledged that if you’re going to use Quicken or Excel, or more dear to my hear, Visual Studio, you’re still going to use traditional input methodologies. While at the same token, if you have an app that can be well driven by touch and hands-on usage, then hey you get to do that too. I’m sure it’ll take time for developers to get it right. To ensure they don’t force touch on people when they don’t want it, but to enable the new UI when they can use it. But assuming that hurdle can be leapt, then you’re looking at one seriously powerful OS that can span the micro devices on through the mega systems.
Most of the rest of the day was spent demonstrating all that was great about the new Metro style apps. These are basically apps that are similar in nature to what Windows Phone 7 brought to the table, but better. I’ll just leave it at that for now, but trust me they’re better. These apps will require significant rewriting of code to make use of the new UI model, but it’ll be worth it in the end. It’s likely people will be able to use more business logic from existing code bases than they think, but the UI effort will still take time to get right.
And then of course, there was the giveaway. I saw some Twitter posts likening it to an Oprah’s “Favorite Things” episode. The rumors were right. Microsoft, teaming up with Samsung gave each attendee a slate device running a development preview build of Windows 8 (as well as development preview of Visual Studio 2011). While later slates might be lower powered, they really pulled out all the stops on this one. Featuring a second generation i5 core, 1366×768 display, 4 GB of memory and a 64GB SSD drive, the device boots in about 5 seconds from a cold power off and is very snappy. The heat generated and battery life might leave a little to be desired, but as a development preview machine, it’s pretty nice.
Now of course, having seen the new Metro style apps all day, what’s the first thing we decided to do? That’s right, install Mi-Forms. The picture below shows Mi-Forms v8 with no modifications running on the slate just about 30 minutes after first powering it on. For those of you out there who’ve wanted a Windows slate platform for mobile data capture, here it is…
Don’t get me wrong, we’ll most likely fully embrace the new UI model, but it’s great to see that Microsoft hasn’t abandoned developers who’ve long been on their platform, and it’s going to be great supporting our customers in new opportunities that they bring.
Real in depth sessions start tomorrow, so come back for our take on that. But for now, good night from Microsoft Build 2011.