How and when will enterprise apps be made Windows 8-ready?

How and when will enterprise apps be made Windows 8-ready?

Summary: Line-of-business application developers -- including those working at Microsoft -- have two possible paths to follow to make their Metro-style apps Windows 8 compatible.

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While there are plenty of folks who are waiting with bated breath for  Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and Disney digital books for Windows 8, many I know are far more interested in how and when enterprise apps are going to show up for the next Windows release.

For developers interested in making sure their enterprise apps run on x86/x64 Windows 8 tablets and PCs, they can either build Metro-style/WinRT versions of their apps or they can expect users to run those apps via the Windows 8 Desktop. If they also want them to run on Windows 8 on ARM tablets and PCs, however, they can't go the Desktop route, since Microsoft has decided to limit the Desktop on WOA to hosting only Office 15, Internet Explorer 10 (without plug-in support), File Explorer and some other Windows components, officials disclosed last week.

For developers going the Metro-style route, there are two possible paths are mentioned in last week's Windows on ARM (WOA) blog post from Windows chief Steven Sinofsky. Devs can either build a Metro-style/WinRT-based for their app that will connect to back-end servers via a Web services application programming interface (API), or they can reuse chunks of their existing code wrapped in a "Metro-style experience."

From Sinofsky's February 13 post on the Building Windows 8 blog:

"Many apps will be best served by building new Metro style front ends for existing data sources or applications, and communicating through a web services API. This approach will be quite common for line-of-business applications and many consumer web properties, and represents the best way to tap into the power of a rich user interaction model where you can also interact across and share information with other new apps. Of course, these do not need to be just front-ends, but could operate on local data too, since WOA provides full access to files and peripherals. Other existing applications will be well served by reusing large amounts of engine or runtime code, and surrounding that with a Metro style experience. This will take some time, and represents a way for applications that are composed of significant intellectual property to move to WOA and WinRT."

It seems at least one group in Microsoft is taking the Metro-style front-end approach. Dynamics AX evangelist and blogger Brandon George recently discovered that Microsoft is planning to deliver a Windows 8 version of its Dyanmics AX 7 client in 2013/2014. (He found this inside Microsoft's own "statement of direction" documentation, from which the Windows 8 Dynamics AX image embedded in this post comes.)

How will they do this? The team is building a Windows 8 HTML5 front end client that will connect to a Dynamics AX service, George noted. If it sticks to those dates, this new Windows 8 Dynamics AX client would be rolled out ahead of the next major release of Dyanmics AX, which should be in 2014/2015 if Microsoft sticks to its current cadence, he said.

I am betting the Dynamics AX unit isn't the only Microsoft team taking this approach. It'll be interesting to see which third-party line-of-business developers opt for the HTML5 client option when thinking about how to add Windows 8 support to their apps.

Update: Simon Bisson at ZDNet UK has a related post on WOA and the enterprise where he says he expects the new plug-in-less IE Desktop in Windows 8 could serve as a launch pad for remote Win 8 apps (running using Terminal Services). So that might be a way developers can get around not being able to run legacy code on Win 8 (though performance obviously could be an issue).

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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43 comments
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  • I think Metro will be a good thing for business notifications (messages).

    I would therefore argue Metro should be a part of a business app (or indeed any app). I also think ribbon controls should be 'metro-fiable'. Unfortunately, this messaging will not give app developers a compelling reason to port an app (or more realistically the 'metrofied' part of an app to Microsoft's app store. I would therefore in turn suggest MS's app store model is flawed.
    rmac_z
    • They basically want METRO to be SilverLight 6

      That in itself is not bad an idea giving that MSFT can directly monetize from a METRO platform (tho I still think 30% royalty is a bit too high). They need to beef the data support part up a little for it to be a serious LOB platform.
      LBiege
  • Things are looking good

    [i]???Many apps will be best served by building new Metro style front ends for existing data sources or applications, and communicating through a web services API. This approach will be quite common for line-of-business applications and many consumer web properties, and represents the best way to tap into the power of a rich user interaction model where you can also interact across and share information with other new apps. Of course, these do not need to be just front-ends, but could operate on local data too, since WOA provides full access to files and peripherals.[/i]

    Basically the approach taken by many commercial apps found on smartphones and tablets. Create a rich front end to interact with back end services.

    [i]Other existing applications will be well served by reusing large amounts of engine or runtime code, and surrounding that with a Metro style experience. This will take some time, and represents a way for applications that are composed of significant intellectual property to move to WOA and WinRT.???[/i]

    Basically rewrite rich Win32 apps (like Office, Photoshop, Autocad) with a Metro UI, by leveraging a lot of existing source code, and having the code work against WinRT rather than Win32. I believe these will be the most interesting apps - though they may take a while to appear.

    What I'd really like to see is compelling desktop touch computing form factors with productivity apps on them. If MS can nail down this scenario, then MS will be able to disrupt desktop computing to its favor, and leap frog Apple and the competition.
    P. Douglas
    • 'rewrite rich Win32 apps (like Office, Photoshop...'

      @P. Douglas

      and will those be deployed through the app store?
      rmac_z
      • Yes

        @rmac_z
        P. Douglas
      • RE: How and when will enterprise apps be made Windows 8-ready?

        @P. Douglas
        "Yes"

        Yeah, sure. You really think Adobe is going to give MS a 30 percent cut of every Photoshop sale? Keep dreaming. The windows app store will be a wasteland of freebie and trialware.
        Nathan A Smith
      • Either them or a distributor+retailer.

        @Nathan A Smith
        Which has the lower cut?
        Patanjali
      • RE: How and when will enterprise apps be made Windows 8-ready?

        @rmac_z
        I think if they deployed through the app store, Adobe is likely going to negociate with MS first to lower the cut they get.
        xnederlandx
      • Then there will be no Photoshop on WOA

        @Nathan A Smith
        x I'm tc
    • RE: How and when will enterprise apps be made Windows 8-ready?

      @P. Douglas "Basically rewrite rich Win32 apps (like Office, Photoshop, Autocad) with a Metro UI, by leveraging a lot of existing source code, and having the code work against WinRT rather than Win32."

      Yeah, and have all of your customers leave you en masse for your competitors who are providing them with "real" applications or just refusing to upgrade since the old version is again a "real" application and works just fine. Nobody is going to split their resources by developing and testing two completely different interfaces to run on windows when they can just ignore WOA and keep the singular focus on win32. It's a chicken and egg problem. Consumers are going to ignore arm windows tablets because there aren't any apps and devs are going to ignore it because their aren't any users. MS is being foolish with win8.
      Nathan A Smith
      • RE: How and when will enterprise apps be made Windows 8-ready?

        @Nathan A Smith,

        I don't know what the big deal is. You're win32 apps will run on Windows 8 on the desktop, but they won't run on Windows 8 on an ARM tablet. That's no different with the status quo that you can't run Windows 7 applications on WiMo 7. The only thing that's different is that if you are creating new applications you can develop them where they will run on both. What's so foolish about that?
        bmonsterman
      • So things are changing

        @Nathan A Smith,

        You mean like no one is going to develop apps for two platforms like the Mac and PC (or iOS and Android) like what companies such as Adobe and Autodesk are now doing? Besides, ISVs that develop for the PC don't have much of a choice. Win32 development is winding down, and new Windows features will be available only via WinRT. Yes it's going to be a gamble for ISVs, but many will be able to see how things develop in the consumer market, which could embolden their move to WinRT. If Windows 8 does well in the consumer market, then it is highly likely that its success will propagate to the business market - like Windows 7.

        Shifts in platforms are a fact of life. The PC is shifting from the GUI to the touch first interface - similar to the way the PC shifted from the Command Line Interface to the GUI many years ago. There have always been shifts in the computer market, and there will always be. This is a fact of life ISVs need to come to grips with - if they haven???t already done so.
        P. Douglas
      • RE: How and when will enterprise apps be made Windows 8-ready?

        @bmonsterman Did you read a single word of my post or the post I replied to? Apparently not because your reply has nothing to do with either one of them.
        Nathan A Smith
      • RE: How and when will enterprise apps be made Windows 8-ready?

        @P. Douglas

        Devs only produce apps for the Mac and the "PC" and iOS/Android because they stand to make more than they lose by developing for those platforms. Why would they make both a win32 version that will run on windows 8 x86, windows 7, windows vista, windows xp and so on and also make a cut down winrt version that will only run on windows 8 and then have to split the revenue with MS via their app store. Not happening. And if it does, expect the winrt version to be a cut down feature-less crap trial version with the real version being win32. Metro apps are a joke for something like Photoshop or Autocad. Imagine trying to run either of those applications with one full screen metro window at a time. Hahahaha. Seriously, please put the kool-aid down before you hurt yourself.
        Nathan A Smith
      • Things seem fine to me

        @Nathan A Smith,

        ISVs for the most part won't be developing for Win32 in the future. (Much like when MS moved to Windows, developers stopped developing for DOS.) Therefore many ISVs will probably simply maintain their Win32 software, as they migrate to WinRT, and enhance their apps.

        As for giving MS a cut. Don't ISVs give physical stores cuts when they distribute their software? Also after about $25,000 in sales, the Windows store cut goes from 30% to about 20%.

        As for the design of rich apps, MS is developing design language to allow ISVs to do this well in Metro.
        P. Douglas
      • RE: How and when will enterprise apps be made Windows 8-ready?

        @P. Douglas "ISVs for the most part won't be developing for Win32 in the future."

        Oh yeah? Do you have any lucky lottery number predictions to go along with that?

        "Don't ISVs give physical stores cuts when they distribute their software?"

        Sure, in the same way that any wholesaler/manufacturer gives their retailers "cuts". I.e., not at all. You wholesale your wares and the retailers puts whatever mark up they can on it to sell it profitably. It most certainly isn't a "cut". To use that terminology shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how the whole system of running a business works.

        "As for the design of rich apps, MS is developing design language to allow ISVs to do this well in Metro."

        How many apps have you written for Metro on Windows 8 to give such a glowing review of the tools? Oh, none? Thought so.
        Nathan A Smith
      • RE: How and when will enterprise apps be made Windows 8-ready?

        @Nathan A Smith

        I am sorry but I had to reply a markup and a cut ARE THE SAME EXACT THING. The only difference is semantics. Watch, if Adobe sold for $70 and the store marked it up to $100 or if Adobe sells through the Microsoft store (knowing they take %30) will sell it for $100 and Microsoft will take $30. In both Cases Adobe made $70 and the retailer/ Microsoft made $30.
        Djblois
      • RE: How and when will enterprise apps be made Windows 8-ready?

        @Nathan A Smith,<br>You're right, my post was short and didn't really tie into your post. My thoughts did come as a result of your post. I'll try to clarify:<br><br>"Did you read a single word of my post or the post I replied to? Apparently not because your reply has nothing to do with either one of them."<br><br>The post I was addressing was this:<br> "Nobody is going to split their resources by developing and testing two completely different interfaces to run on windows when they can just ignore WOA and keep the singular focus on win32."<br><br>I don't think that's true. First of all, when I think of Enterprise apps, I don't think we're talking about Office, Photoshop and Autocad. I think we're talking about ERP applications or LOB applications. As far as ERP, for Microsoft, that's the Dynamics suite of application. Microsoft for sure will be developing coming versions of that to work with Windows 7, Windows 8 both x86 and ARM. Otherwise they aren't presenting a unified front for their customers. For LOB applications, businesses will have a group to support the legacy Win32 applications and will eventually start developing using the new framework (WinRT) for rich windows clients.<br><br>"Consumers are going to ignore arm windows tablets because there aren't any apps and devs are going to ignore it because their aren't any users. MS is being foolish with win8."<br><br>We aren't talking about the consumer market here, I believe we are talking about businesses and ERP and LOB. (Reread the article). In this case Microsoft is marketing towards business customers who either want to develop new LOB applications or implement their using the new development framework WinRT. Adoption will come slow because businesses, since the last couple of releases of Windows, have been taking their time upgrading their desktops. Once Windows 8 and higher are mainstream, WinRT will be the platform of choice for Microsoft shops and Microsoft will leverage their marketshare in the Enterprise in order to gain access to consumer markets. Since their access to consumer markets on the tablet front doesn't look promising at the moment, this seems like a reasonable strategy.
        bmonsterman
      • RE: How and when will enterprise apps be made Windows 8-ready?

        ISVs WILL continue to make Win32 apps. Anyone who doesn't think so is kidding themselves.

        Win32 and even .NET is a far richer, less restrictive environment than WinRT. Some will make a play for visibility in the app store, but don't expect much of that to happen for people doing the business productivity thing.
        Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • RE: How and when will enterprise apps be made Windows 8-ready?

        @Nathan A Smith "Sure, in the same way that any wholesaler/manufacturer gives their retailers "cuts". I.e., not at all. You wholesale your wares and the retailers puts whatever mark up they can on it to sell it profitably. It most certainly isn't a "cut". To use that terminology shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how the whole system of running a business works."

        I know that for many consumer goods, the manufacturer will have a suggested retail price for its products, but they're selling them to the retailer for considerably less (just how much less can be seen, for example, when a car salesman sells a newish automobile at "$1 over factory invoice"). In that light, the sales on the Application Store might work in a similar way--the product is sold for the MSRP, but the developer gets about 70% of that.

        The only way to really cut out the middleman would be to go into direct sales, and I don't think that's going to work particularly well for Windows on ARM.
        Third of Five