Microsoft's Build developers conference, kicking off on September 13, is just days away. For the past year-plus, there have been various leaks, hacks, forum posts, blog entries and even a couple of public peeks of Microsoft's next version of Windows. But next week is the official "big reveal."
What will I be watching for at next week's confab -- beyond the obvious things, like showings of Windows 8 on ARM and more on how Microsoft's existing development tools and technologies fit into the Windows 8 picture?
Here are ten terms I'm hoping to hear more about at Build. Some of these are codenames; others are working feature names. On my short list:
AppX: A new type of packaged application model in Windows 8 that is believed to closely resemble Windows Phone 7 application packages. If Windows 8 supports the AppX model, Windows Phone applications should (in theory) work on Windows 8. And the Windows 8 app store should look, feel and operate like the Windows Phone Marketplace (if the two are not one in the same). The "Modern Reader" unearthed by Paul Thurrott and Rafael Rivera in an early leaked Win8 build is an example of an AppX application.
Jupiter: A new app model/ user interface (UI) library for Windows, built alongside Windows 8. The original plan was for Jupiter to be a thin XAML/UI layer on top of Windows application programming interfaces and frameworks for subsystems like graphics, text and input. I'll be watching to see if Jupiter manages to hang on to make its public debut and how closely it resembles the various tidbits I received about it for the past few months.
MinWin: The “guts” of Windows (the kernel, hardware abstraction layer, TCP/IP, file systems, drivers and other core system services). Microsoft included an implementation of MinWin as part of Windows 7, officials acknowledged. But it sounds like MinWin will be more prominent in Windows 8, and could potentially play a role in Microsoft's client virtualization strategy, as Windows expert Sandro Villinger reaffirmed earlier this year.
Protogon: Some kind of a new Windows 8 file system or collection of file-system elements, early details about which were publicized by Sandro Villinger. Protogon reportedly incorporates database-like concepts like transactions, cursors, rows and tables and could (some day, in theory, at least) replace or at least emulate the current NTFS built into Windows.
RedHawk: A key piece of a new managed-code execution environment that would be more lightweight and more appealing to developers who have been put off by the perceived overhead of the current Common Language Runtime (CLR) at the heart of the .Net Framework. RH and RHP (RedHawk Project?) mentions have been found in leaked Windows 8 builds. Microsoft execs have said the not said which version of the .Net Framework, if any, will won't be included in the early Windows 8 test builds (though the older .Net 3.5 will be added to the final product, according to a recent Microsoft blog post).
Silverlight: The Microsoft web-browser plug-in that enables interactive media experiences, line of business applications and Windows Phone development. While we know Microsoft is poised to deliver Silverlight 5, the future of the product once known as WPF/e (Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere) needs to be addressed in a concrete and clear way at Build (after months of murkiness). Can devs build both classic and modern Windows 8 apps with Silverlight? Will apps developed with Silverlight run on both Windows Phone (7 and/or 8) and Windows 8?
Tweet@rama: A TweetDeck-like Twitter client that Microsoft execs used for demo purposes in the June unveiling of Windows 8. Since then, it's become obvious that Tweet@rama isn't just a demo app and is more likely to be a full-fledged Microsoft-developed application or service that will be released in or alongside Windows 8. There's also speculation that Windows 8 will include the same kinds of "Hubs" that are part of the Windows Phone ecosystem; if so, Tweet@rama might be part of a "People" hub with native Twitter integration, like what's provided in the Mango Windows Phone OS.
UEFI: The Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), a k a the replacement for the old PC BIOS firmware, is going to be a big topic at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) -- which just so happens to be running concurrently with Build. UEFI is all about faster bootup, more modular design and processor independence ... kind of like Windows 8 is expected to be. Even though ARM is where a lot of the Windows 8 tablet action is expected to be, the Intel market (especially with Intel's newfound Ultrabook push) is still very key to Microsoft's Windows team and its customers/partners. (By the way, if there's a tablet give-away at Build, I'm betting it'll be an Intel-based tablet, not an ARM-based one.)
What did I miss? What's on your watchword list for next week, Microsoft developers?