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Microsoft's decision to only support Windows Runtime Library (WinRT) applications in Windows 8 will disrupt its developer community, according to experts.
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The Windows 8 Metro-style user interface is built on a new set of application programming interfaces (APIs) called Windows Runtime or WinRT. Up until Windows 8, Microsoft's development strategy for the Windows desktop has been mainly based on .Net. While developers can still code for Windows 8 Metro in .Net, the software development kit (SDK) is not fully compatible with .Net or Silverlight for desktop Windows.
Michael Azoff, Ovum principal analyst, believes this will create a lot of uncertainty for developers, especially with WinRT's HTML5 offering being a "lock-in" version, similar to Apple's approach towards development.
"This strategy is high risk for Microsoft and leaves its developer community with some difficult decisions to make," he said.
Azoff said Windows 8 and the incorporation of touch gestures is a "major sea change" for Microsoft. Rather than porting Silverlight applications to WinRT, developers will most likely build Windows 8 Metro touch apps from scratch. But building native applications increases the development costs and maintenance burden for developers.
"So the key question that enterprise developers are asking when deciding long-term five-year plans for rich user interfaces is which platform to opt for," said Azoff.
Azoff said the choice last year was split between Adobe Flash and AIR, Microsoft Silverlight and Oracle JavaFX for cross-platform.
"Between Adobe, Microsoft and Oracle only Adobe has a cross-platform HTML5 policy," he said.
Azoff added that enterprises are likely to continue .Net development for server-side applications as well as supporting huge amounts of legacy code.
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