Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Build Conference Day 1: The Links

It was a long day yesterday, with information about the 'new world' of Microsoft development slowly trickling out over my Twitter stream as the day progressed and more and more people digested the keynote and posted their analyses.

Expect more updates in a new blog post as Day 2 unfolds.

Marketing architecture slide

Below is my list of the 'useful information' links I collated over the first 12 hours of Day 1 of the conference, together with added commentary.

Must-see Videos

There are two videos you must see if you want to understand the new world of Windows 8, and how dramatically the world is about to change.

The first is the Day 1 Keynote where Steve Sinofsky gives the big overview of WIndows 8.

The second is the first 'Big Picture' presentation given by Jensen Harris. It runs for 90 minutes, and has a rather 'meh!' title but 8 Traits of Great Metro Style Apps is a tight, well-delivered (unlike the keynote!) overview of the new world of 'Metro Style' apps - the first class citizens of the new Windows 8 world.

If you haven't got time to watch the videos and just want to get to the meat of what's different about Windows RT, then these two articles do a very good job of summarising all the key points: Major UI Themes in Windows 8 and WinRT: An Object-Oriented Replacement for Win32. Alternatively Michael Crump has posted an excellent bullet point summary of the keynote.

If you're a Silverlight or WPF developer just wanting a quick skim of how the announcements are likely to affect you, I recommend reading Mary Jo Foley's analysis Microsoft to Developers: Metro is Your Future.

There's also a surprisingly honest analysis of what Microsoft DIDN'T say at Build from Telerik in their Build Day 1: What Wasn't Said blog post.

Developer Preview of Windows 8

The Developer Preview is available to download immediately at the Official Windows 8 Download site. It's available in several forms, primarily a 64-bit version with or without the Developer tools (preview version of Visual Studio 2012 and Expression Blend 5 for HTML and Javascript which does NOT support XAML :-O) and a 32-bit version that does not contain the Developer tools (so seems completely useless).

If you have an MSDN subscription you will find downloads much faster from there, and you will also find a whole host of other options to download. However if you don't know what terms like 'ADK' mean you might want to review some of the sessions from Build before rushing to download.

Don't forget to also follow the link from the main page to 'Sign up for the Live Technical Preview'. If my experience is typical this involves jumping through a few hoops to sign up, but once you get past the usual Microsoft pain barrier, the Live Preview msi and accompanying documentation are already sat there waiting for you to download.

One thing you'll notice if you install Windows 8 is that at least the lawyers had a sense of humour.

If you want to install Windows 8 onto a VHD then Scott Hanselman (like Scott Guthrie, conspicuous by his absence at the Build conference - this really is a very different new world!) has the definitive guide in his Guide to Installing Windows 8 Off a Virtual Hard Drive (VHD)

Early reports indicate that Windows 8, which needs less power and memory than Windows 7, installs nicely even on old laptops, but that installation in a VM is problematic, with only Virtual Box users having much success. Mr Goodcat has posted some nice step-by-step instructions.

Interesting side note: There are already 3 updates for an O.S. that was only released 5 hours ago! :-O

Expression Blend 5

While the debate about whether or not 'Silverlight/WPF are dead' rages on, I think there's a reason Silverlight and .NET are shown as small boxes in the 'legacy' section of the marketing architecture diagram at the top of this blog post. Although 'XAML' is placed stage centre left there are so far no clues as to which version of XAML this new 'Jupiter' version of XAML is most compatible with - WPF, Silverlight 4, Silverlight 5, Windows Phone, something new? Early reports indicate that most of the Build sessions and examples are focused on HTML5 and Javascript and it's interesting to note that the version of Blend that is included with the Windows 8 download supports only Javascript and not XAML.

The old official Microsoft Blend blog is now apparently dead and there is a new blog (annoyingly with no advertised RSS feed, where the old blog had one!) at Blog

For background information on the new version of Blend for HTML be sure to read Christian Schorman's blog post on Blend for HTML which includes links to other important documentation and overview blog posts.

Other Essential Windows 8 Downloads

If you want sample code, you should download 200 Sample Metro Applications from Microsoft, apparently all written by interns over the Summer period.

Essential Reading

Several links were posted to give information on such things as the new Windows shortcuts, the new controls that give you the Metro experience (animations) for free, etc. I've summarised these below:

Developing a Metro Style Application? Start here

Running Windows 8 Touch on Windows 7 Hardware

Quickstart on Touch Input

Windows 8 Controls List

Windows RT Reference

New Windows 8 Control Shortcuts

Kendo UI - Telerik's new Suite for Metro Style Application Development (HTML5/CSS3/Javascript)

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