Windows 8 developers must not be WIMPs

So Windows 8 has someone tentatively arrived with many challenges for both IT managers and… also, challenges for software application developers ahead.

One certainty that we can draw from Redmond’s willingness to move to the new computing paradigms of touch, mobile-first and geo-location aware search-centric applications is that the old computing standards (at the consumer level at least) may now be dying off.

But what are the old standards?

Microsoft has called the eighth iteration of its operating system “Windows re-imagined”…

… and this means of course that it has been “radically altered” to make it more suitable for touch-screen devices including tablets and smartphones.

Research director for consumer mobile at IDC John Delaney suggests that now, Microsoft aims to ride an anticipated wave of demand for computers with touch screens.

“Two decades ago, Microsoft risked heading towards marginalisation in the PC OS market, with its belated and initially rather tentative response to the transition in the hardware market from keyboard/command-line driven machines, to those based on the WIMP (windows/icon/mouse/pointer) paradigm.”

“This time it seems that Microsoft is moving to anticipate, rather than react to, what it expects to be the next major transition in the hardware market: a migration to machines with touch screens,” said Delaney.

So is the WIMP model now dead?

Not really. But in terms of developer steer for the months and years ahead, a migration is underway that can not be ignored.

Where a decade (or even a couple of years ago) we might have said, I am a software developer; therefore I am a mobile developer… now perhaps we need to say: I am a software developer; therefore I am a touch-enabled mobile-centric developer.

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A interesting blog item and for once it's nice to read a middle of the road blog article not deriding Microsoft to the 7 pits of hell or appraising the Church of the fruity to high glory. Yes, Windows 8 is different, just the same as Windows 7 was different to Windows XP, to Windows 2000. Windows 8 is different though in almost a 3 dimensional way, and that 3rd dimension is how you interact with it, touch. There have been much criticism of Windows 8 by those who tried the preview editions yet my experience I have found it to be solid in most areas and where not it is fair enough to say this is a preview. From a development point of view, I think its really exciting and I think that a little revolution every now and then can be a good thing. There are many benefits for productivity in having the live tiles, I for one as a Windows Phone 7 user would not like to live with either of the alternative platforms just as much as a seasoned user of the alternative platforms would want to look beyond their purchase. However, what is very interesting is that to have an OS that works the same across 3 consumption platforms should not be ignored, this has to be good for productivity. I remember my early days of employment in an AppleCentre how I was told that the Macintosh OS, was written such that if you knew 1 application you could use 30% of all others. Perhaps this was a reference to the File Edit View Help menus that were common to all applications. This is what we crave, commonality, things we recognise and I think that if people are just willing to give Windows 8 a chance, they may just find that being able to use 3 different devices the same way just wonderful, whether said platform has 50M applications or just the 3 or 4 that you need. Lets see what happens.