Wow. The level of innovation and new products that Microsoft showed yesterday with HoloLens, Surface Hub and Windows 10 is rare to get in one event – we are mightily impressed. With Windows 10 powering everything from phones and tablets, PCs and Xbox One, all the way to 84-inch conference screens and futuristic augmented reality helmets makes you wonder how it affects us as developers. The live stream event yesterday, which can be viewed on demand, was meant for consumers, and showed the end-user experiences across devices.
Update: After this post was written, Microsoft published an official post well worth reading:
Windows 10 is empowering developers to dream again
We took the chance to end our Jayway competence day with a live stream event in the Jayway Malmö office with external guests – fun as always!
But a consumer event does not mean that we can’t extrapolate and draw conclusions on the developer impact. Are you ready to code for the future?
Already today we can develop Universal apps that share almost all code between Windows & Phone, with user interface differences between the two where needed. The concept will surely evolve and be refined, and extend into most, if not all, devices running Windows 10. Next in line in Xbox One. Being able to target the living room TV via the Xbox opens up a much larger audience for your app development efforts. A hands on course on Universal Apps development can be found on Microsoft Virtual Academy.
Apps on the desktop
Store apps (=Modern apps) have until now been full screen or a horizontal portion of the screen. Starting with Windows 10, apps can be run in any size on the desktop. This makes consuming apps a easier and more fluent when using Windows in the desktop mode, often with mouse and keyboard. To prepare for this you should start looking at creating a more reponsive design in your apps. Here are some resources on screen size awareness:
Quickstart: Designing apps for different window sizes
Guidelines for supporting multiple screen sizes
From 4 to 40 inches: Developing Windows Applications across Multiple Form Factors
Beautiful Apps at Any Size on Any Screen
Cortana exists on Windows Phone, and soon coming to both Windows 10 on PCs and Xbox One. It’s not just voice control, and not just a search engine – she’s a pro-active assistant that is there for you when you need her. For your app to integrate into the Cortana ecosystem will be a key component in blending in with the system. So, get started with integrating with Cortana on Windows Phone 8.1 right now, and you will be more empowered to handle the expanded APIs coming in the future.
Integrating Store Apps with Cortana in Windows Phone 8.1
Quickstart: Voice commands with Cortana (XAML)
Cortana is learning about you on all devices, Windows in turn is syncing all your settings and preferences. You need to get in on this action! NextGen Reader from NextMatters is a perfect example of this. Your settings are synced between phone and tablet, and re-installing your device and downloading the app puts you right back in the experience without having to log in again. This is enabled via the Store merging that is happening. Currently Windows Phone and Windows have separate app stores, but they are melting together. Already today you can specify that an app is the same app across the stores via the app id, and roaming settings will be roamed across all devices!
Guidelines for roaming app data
How to roam data between a Windows Store app and a Windows Phone Store app
Quickstart: Roaming app data (XAML)
Windows as a Service
The announcement yesterday was that consumers, upgrading to Windows 10 will be free for a year from Windows 7 and Windows 8.x. After upgrading you will get Windows as a Service, meaning you will be covered for (and forced to accept) updates for the life time of your device. It does not mean that you will have to pay a subscription fee each year. But how does that affect developers? Well, Microsoft is transforming itself across the board for shorter release cadences and a more agile approach. This will give us security patches as well as features faster and more often. This is of course a good thing, but if you want to keep your app on the bleeding edge of what the system can do – you will want to stay up to date with API changes and probably do a release here and there to include the latest features. A quote from yesterday is
we will talk a lot more about this at BUILD, that is something you’re not gonna want to miss.
We can only agree. BUILD registration opens today at 18:00 CET.
Thanks for reading!