I attended the Developer Camp at the Microsoft Malvern Office last week [Thursday].
Kudos to Dave Isbitski and Lindsay Lindstrom for putting on a superb presentation.
– Metro, as a vehicle to display information is nice
– The ability to pick between C#/XAML and HTML/JS is a plus
– App suspension and O/S integration for shared features across apps is a plus
– Very easy to consume Web API’s
– Metro requires Windows 8 (not that Win8 is bad, but requiring an O/S rev for an app is costly and often, not practical/feasible)
– I can write a metro-looking app today with the HTML5 stack
– Metro apps represent only one aspect of business computing: reporting/dashboards – with moderate-light data update requirements
– Not X-Platform
Many companies are just beginning their migration to Win 7. Many are still on XP. IMO (In My Opinion), I see MS’s strategy as proposing that a problem exists and that Metro is the solution. The belief is that this will drive Windows 8 sales. From an OEM standpoint – I see it in the consumer/retail sector. I don’t see it in the enterprise for at least a few years. As of today, as I understand it, Win8 will not connect to enterprise assets such as Active Directory. No doubt, this deficit will be addressed.
As nice as Metro-style apps are – as of right now – I don’t see it as anything more than a new way to consume information. The bashing of windows borders (chrome), min/max buttons, etc – is a bit of a straw man argument IMO. Indeed, overlapping windows, multiple scroll bars, etc. is bad. That, IMO, is a matter of bad UI. As is usually the case, the problem is not with the tool, but how the tool is used.
We can build Metro-looking apps today. There is a distinction with Metro-style and Metro-looking. Metro-style apps are built on the WinRT, are integrated into the Win 8 OS, go into suspend mode, etc. The irony is that it is the look and feel of Metro that is being pushed. And given that we can build Metro-looking apps today, I seriously question if there will be a perceived need to migrate to a new OS for the sake of Metro when there are alternatives to get essentially the same look and feel. Never before have we had to have on the critical path – an O/S rev in order to deploy an application. As somebody who is part of a management team that runs a business, these practical business issues are what gets my attention and have me much more concerned. Not a day goes by where I ask myself “How can I sell this?” As consultants, we are, IMO, ethically obligated to serve the best interest of our clients. If asked today about the value proposition on Win8/Metro, given the current landscape, I’m hard pressed to be able to quantify or to conclude if the value proposition is in positive territory.
It seems to me that the WinRT was something that could have sat on the Win7 platform. I very much like the calls to add Metro to Win7. Metro, as a UI/UX heuristic, is uniquely a Microsoft Contribution to computing. Why not facilitate it being more in the mainstream of open development? It’s a conundrum. Metro apps look great. They are very pleasing to look at. They emphasize the information and thereby enhance information consumption. Its implementation however, is very limited. It only covers a portion of what we end up needing to deliver to clients and it requires a specific O/S. It’s not X-platform – in spite of the fact that you can use your HTML/CSS/JS skills to develop metro apps. I think it will be several years before Win8 gets traction in the enterprise. For the most part, O/S adoption has been something we have not had to worry about. We really don’t care whether they are on Vista, XP or Win7. But for a metro app – you need Win8 – and that entails costs that extend beyond any specific project budget. Let’s remember – O/S revs for the enterprise are a big deal. They don’t happen often. These are at least 5-year decisions. And again, many companies are just making their way to Win7. Will there be leap-froggers who go to Win8? No doubt the answer is yes. Win7 was and is a compelling upgrade and that means for many, another O/S rev in the near future is not in the cards.
Bottom line, the issue has more to do with business, the business of computing and less do with the technical aspects of computing.
Be mindful of the UI heuristics that are prescribed in Metro. There is a lot of merit to the science and thought behind Metro and that was one of my big take aways from last week’s developer camp. Much of what Metro prescribes can be adopted today in other areas. On one hand, don’t discount Win8/Metro because it is not available yet. Take time to learn about it. Get Win8 on a VM and play around with it. Eventually, it will be here and as Windows Devs, it’s something we will need to be familar with. On the other hand, don’t start thinking of a Win8/Metro world just yet. There are apps to be delivered today and tomorrow that won’t lend themselves to Metro. For one thing – it’s very different and companies are often slow to adopt change. The key is to have the “Killer Application” for Metro. IMO, it’s in the area of dashboards/reporting – and general information consumption with some limited data update capabilities. Finally, don’t link the adoption of Dev 11 (Visual Studio v.next) with WIn8/Metro. While Metro apps can only be built and deployed under Win8/Dev 11 – Dev 11 will work just fine in Win7. There are a lot of nice productivity features in Dev 11 that make it a compelling upgrade aside and apart from Metro.