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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Industry Trends

How does Windows 8 take mobile computing forward?
Krishna Murari
September 29, 2011
First Published: 15:55 IST(29/9/2011)
Last Updated: 16:13 IST(29/9/2011)
window 8
Microsoft announced their latest version of Windows couple of weeks back at the BUILD Conference and Windows 8 had gotten everyone excited. There's a brand new UI and a couple of major improvements but does it make mobile computing a fresh experience all over again?

The latest version of Windows comes with the popular Metro UI, which runs on Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 devices and Zune. Microsoft has integrated the Mobile, Tablet and PC platforms, building an all new ecosystem which would function well with each other and grow with mutual support. But will it really change the Tablet experience? Actually, it might not. The Windows Store has just been launched, at a time when iTunes already has 95,000 apps and 3 flagship devices (iPod Touch, iPhone &iPad) dependent on it. Initial impressions of Windows 8 on non-touch devices have been pretty negative, due to the lags and poor scrolling efficiency issues on the Start screen on Metro UI with a keyboard and mouse. However, this is just the Developer preview and the newer versions will have a fix, most likely. There's an all new browser, control panel and Music screen, all designed based on the Metro UI with hints of Microsoft Office coming soon too. Microsoft has decided to go with Metro UI, full-time and so far, it has been proving out success.

Microsoft has indeed entered the race late, but they might be winning this one still. The whole mobile computing experience and it's neatly and deeply integrated with desktop/laptop accessibility and allows one touch sharing, posting and syncing. Changing just a couple of lines of code on a Windows Phone 7 App would make it a Windows 8 App that can be run on Tablets and PCs, claims Microsoft. That's an interesting way to get a lot number of apps, but it the right strategy to adopt? Developing native apps for the tablet alone has been really successful with the iPad, whereas Honeycomb failed, precisely for more or less the same reason. Though Microsoft has decided to keep the resolution optimized for the tablet screens, there's very little probability of a Windows Phone 7 app having tablet centric features and/or iconography.

There's an application for almost everything on Windows, but how many of the developers would actually make them based on the Metro UI is a highly debatable point. Functionality blends well with the design of Metro UI, but a huge number of software’s on Windows just cannot make the shift. Despite that, the Windows 8 platform would have a lot of apps, and the numbers might inch closer to iOS' much sooner than expected. Mobile, Tablet and PC- Yes, it's a single ecosystem and that's what matters.

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What next?
While developers work on their apps and tablet manufacturers build Windows 8 tablets, Windows Phone 7 is constantly growing with Mango. The developer preview of Windows 8 has generated a lot of interest among the developer community and the Mobile platform is getting a lot of interesting apps these days, too. Looking back at Metro UI, it all started with Zune. And now, Microsoft has made it their standard User Interface design across all platforms and services and I'm sure Microsoft knows what they're doing. There's a strong growth of the platform that's happening at the moment and if this continues, Microsoft surely has an amazing product that can take on all its competitors on the mobile and tablet scenario and serve as an incubator for much more to come in the unified ecosystem.

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