Microsoft: Metro apps now called "Windows Store apps"
By David Bayon in Redmond
Posted on 30 Oct 2012 at 23:00
Apps running in the Windows 8 interface formerly known as Metro will simply be called Windows Store apps.
That was just one of several nuggets of information given by Tim O'Brien, Microsoft's general manager of Developer & Platform Evangelism, in a media Q&A session at the company's Build 2012 conference in Redmond.
Asked what we should call the new OS's full-screen apps, O'Brien didn't hesitate. "Windows Store apps. Windows Store apps. Say it proudly," he joked to a sceptical room.
The split between the desktop and the touch interface took up a fair chunk of O'Brien's time in the session. Asked whether he thought users remain confused by the two disparate elements of the OS, he agreed things may not go smoothly from the start.
"I think we have some awareness and education about the user experience that still needs to be done – I think this has been well chronicled," he told the room.
"This is, as you all know, the biggest release of Windows, both from a platform and from a user interface perspective, since [Windows] 95 – and that was a big change for people as well; they didn’t quite know what to make of the Start button and those sorts of things. So I think as adoption begins to grow and the momentum continues, I think that people will become less and less confused and more and more comfortable with this new user experience."
Are we just going to shift resources away from the old thing into the new thing? No, that’s not the case at all.
When pressed on the future of the traditional desktop, O'Brien denied that Microsoft has any plans to phase it out in the near future and assured us that different applications still have different requirements.
"It’s up to the developer," he said. "There’s an idea or perception at one point that we wanted everything going forward to be written for the Windows Store, but there are some applications and some scenarios that make more sense for desktop mode."
"It’s not two operating systems, it’s one operating system – and that’s not a marketing statement, that’s an engineering statement." He pointed out that hundreds of thousands of Windows 7 applications run on Windows 8 in desktop mode, and Microsoft would continue to support them for as long as the demand remains.
"Are we just going to shift resources away from the old thing into the new thing? No, that’s not the case at all."
Competing with Android and Apple
When asked how Microsoft could tempt developers across from rivals, O'Brien stressed the huge potential of Windows 8.
"According to a recent study I saw," he said, "59% of iOS developers don’t make enough revenue to cover their development costs, so I think there’s a lot of interest in the developer community for an alternative platform."
"As far as Android goes, I don’t know what to tell you. A lot of developers [are disappointed] with that community because of the fragmentation issues, the piracy issues. I think there’s an opportunity for another platform entrant to occupy some of those business cycles in exchange for what’s a pretty sizeable money-making opportunity."
He went on to point out that the sheer range of devices covered by the Windows 8 ecosystem makes a persuasive case to developers.
"I think when you look at the size and scope of the market opportunity just in terms of the number of devices going to market – and I appreciate that Apple’s done a tremendous job just driving consumer demand for the products that they sell and people really like – then you look at the order of magnitude on the PC side, on the Windows side, it’s… not tens of millions, it’s hundreds of millions."
"I think if I was a developer I’d have to stop and think: is this something I really want to ignore?"
A shift in perspective
Windows was once very much a desktop OS - aimed at and worked well only on desktops.
Microsofts "mobile" platforms never really worked well because Microsoft was still in "Desktop" mode and the interface of their mobile systems were too much based on their desktop experience.
Windows 8 represents Microsofts first genuine mobile platform. Now its the desktop that is playing second fiddle to the mobile platform.
Which is why my experience of Windows 8 feels poor on the desktop with a mouse but much better on a mobile device.
Perfectly usable on a desktop - but really much more a mobile platform.
By cyberindie on 31 Oct 2012
Give them what they want
When Tim O'Brien (wasn’t he in the Rocky Horror Show?) agreed things may not go smoothly from the start, surely that underlines the problem; there is no Start.
I think all of this could be solved by a) adding back the Start button in the desktop and b) have a parameter that determines whether to boot with the desktop or the tiles.
I remember way back with the Amstrad PC, users were concerned it didn’t have a fan (electric as opposed to admirer). Alan Sugar stated it didn’t need a fan because it didn’t get that hot. Anyhow concerns persisted and Amstrad stuck a fan in it just to keep them quiet (not the PC, which got noisier).
By SparkyHD on 31 Oct 2012
The "Windows Store Apps" name change was announced a couple of weeks back... :-S
By big_D on 31 Oct 2012
Start is there...
The Start Screen is there. :-S
Tim Curry was in Rocky Horror, Tim O'Brien is in the Microsoft Horror Show. :-D
The news about desktop not being phased out is what I have been waiting for from Microsoft.
Where he missed the point is not whether the developer determines whether it makes more sense to have Windows Store apps or desktop apps, it is the USER who decides that!
As an example, I had a PDF from a customer with connection details to their FTP server. With the in-built PDF Reader, it went full screen and I couldn't read the PDF and enter the data into my FTP client, I would have had to print it out or write down the relevant information...
As it was, I just installed Adobe Reader and had the document open in a corner of the screen as I worked in web browser and Filezilla to set up the connection.
Rafe Needelmann from Evernote hit the point, they make a Windows Store app and a desktop application for Windows 8.
On a tablet, the Windows Store app makes a lot of sense, it has a simple, touch based interface. On the desktop, the user runs the application and can have it in a window in a corner of the screen as they are working on other things. It has more options and the interface is more fully featured and mouse friendly.
That is the future of mainstream apps, things like games, can go into the Windows Stoe interface, as they generally run full screen anyway, but productivity applications need to support both interfaces.
By big_D on 31 Oct 2012
And how whole “Metro” interface is now called? Windows Store Interface?
By aa111 on 31 Oct 2012
I don’t mind Start Screen on my desktop. It works as a launcher and live updates on some tiles (such as email and weather) make sense. But I really don’t see benefit of Windows Store apps on a desktop PC. They are just to limited and UI is simply not designed desktop experience. Exclusive full screen mode also works for certain apps but not others.
I’m sure Metro interface will improve, but I don’t believe you can make the same app look great and work well on both 9’’ tablet and 24’’ desktop monitor.
By aa111 on 31 Oct 2012
Believe it or not but if MS did do those things officially W8 would be my primary OS right now.
I know I keep complaining about W8 but that's because these two simple things do have a big effect to me.
Also, the complaints of devs, I wonder if market oversaturation is a big problem after all you hear devs on the iphone complaining about piracy even though only an overall minority jailbreak which is what allows piracy.
By tech3475 on 31 Oct 2012
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