Microsoft Build: News from the Windows 8 sessions

Microsoft Build: News from the Windows 8 sessions

Summary: Sessions at the Microsoft Build conference are yielding interesting tidbits on the coming Windows 8 store, the Windows To Go feature, WinRT programming interface, security, and Xbox Live support.


Microsoft's Build conference is still in full swing at the Anaheim Convention Center. The 5,000-plus developers in attendance are mining the sessions for information on developing for the coming Windows 8 tablets and PCs.

Here are just a few of the interesting bits: Microsoft is sharing more on Windows To Go, its Windows 8 on a USB stick technology. Blogger Manan Kakkar managed to make his way into the packed September 15 session on the topic. (Many were turned away due to the capacity of the room for this one.) With Windows To Go, a user can take the Windows 8 install with files and data stored on a USB 3.0 drive and plug it to any other PC and continue working. Kakkar has a video clip of Windows To Go in action in his blog post on the topic. (Update: It sounds like this feature will work with a USB 2.0 or 3.0 port, but only certain, predesignated USB 3.0 keys.) Microsoft to take a 30 percent cut on Windows Store applications for Windows 8? Metro-style Windows 8 applications must go through Microsoft's malware-check process and will be available for purchase through the Windows Store, as Tom Warren at noted.

IStartedSomething's Long Zheng reported from a Build session that Microsoft was planning to take a 30 percent cut on applications available in the Windows 8 store. (I had heard from other reporters at the show that Microsoft was not going to take a cut at all -- at least at first -- to help encourage developers to build more Windows 8 apps.) Zheng noted that Microsoft now has pulled references to the 70/30 split, so it's not clear whether that's still the plan. Microsoft is expected to offer phone and Windows 8 PC apps for download from the store, and to provide links to legacy applications in the store, allowing developers to determine their own licensing and pricing policies for those apps. WindowsRT, under the hood: One of the biggest mysteries from this week's big reveal of Windows 8 has been the WinRT (Windows Runtime), an application programming interface for developing and running Metro-centric Windows 8 applications. ITWriting's Tim Anderson. Here's more on WinRT from a seesion on the topic that Anderson attended:

"WinRT is only useable from Metro applications. You cannot call WinRT from a Win32 application, nor vice versa," (for the most part), Anderson explained. "I think it is reasonable to assume that a future version of Windows which runs only WinRT is a possibility; and that Windows 8 on ARM will look a bit like that even though Win32 will still be there, but mainly out of sight; but I am speculating. Does that mean Win32 is now legacy? In a way, but such a huge legacy that for the moment we should think of Windows 8 as two platforms side by side." Windows Defender is back with Windows 8: A number of Microsoft watchers, partners and customers have been wondering how Microsoft is planning to safeguard Windows 8 without making the process intrusive. There are multiple answers, according to a new blog post on the "Building Windows 8" blog. Microsoft is beefing back up its Windows Defender tool and providing it as a built-in solution to those without other antimalware offerings installed. The new Defender "will provide you with real-time detection and protection from malware threats using a file system filter, and will interface with Windows secured boot, another new Window 8 protection feature," the Softies said. There's another layer of security built in, as well: The SmartScreen reputation-based security technology that is built into recent Internet Explorer releases is going to be built right into the operating system.

Microsoft will provide support for certain Xbox Live features on Windows 8 PCs and tablets. Avatars, achievements, roaming saved states -- many of the same Xbox Live capabilities offered on Windows Phones -- will be available on Windows 8, too, WinRumors reported from a session on Xbox Live development for Windows 8. Async multiplayer functionality, being built into Windows 8, "will allow Windows PCs, Windows Phone and Xbox 360 users to play against each other using multiplayer and matchmaking functionality. The support brings a new level of multiplayer gaming to Xbox Live once Windows 8 is available," WinRumors' Tom Warren said.

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Software, Windows


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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  • RE: Microsoft Build: News from the Windows 8 sessions

    What happens with the .NET base classes if users are trying to write a Metro app using C# or VB.NET? Will simple things like the System.String class be accessible? There are so many helpful pieces of the framework that I would still like to have access to when writing Metro apps - like string manipulation. Are certain core pieces of .Net being replicated in WinRT?<br><br>Also - I get the sense that Metro apps are expected to be following the MVC paradigm in a way. Windows Azure, or some data structure in the cloud does all the heavy lifting, and provides a bunch of data (Model) to the Metro app, which then just displays that data (View). Very interesting...
    • Yes, the .NET Framework is still very much available

      This was being stressed over and over again. Also it was being specifically pointed out during more than one "code demo" how System, System.Data, System.Linq etc were still being used.

      WinRT is an addendum. XAML has been sedimented into the operating system (WinRT) but is being "surfaced" through libraries. The metadata from .NET assemblies has been a model for metadata in the native libraries. .NET can consume those libraries *directly* with no interop.
      • RE: Microsoft Build: News from the Windows 8 sessions

        @honeymonster Good to know it's not being completely ditched! I wasn't at Build, but am looking to download the session videos, which seem to be online now. Any specific sessions to check out? I'm going to have a lot of XAML learning to do - I've mostly been doing WinForms work!
    • MVC paradigm

      You are free to use any paradigm you choose, MVC, MVVM, Forms, whatever.

      .NET actually has quite a bit support for MVC and MVVM built-in, also in classic WebForms. This has been enhanced with .NET 4.5 which was also unveiled at BUILD. .NET has a very strong concept for the "model" - with declarative (attribute-driven) as well as imperative (method-driven) validation.
      • RE: Microsoft Build: News from the Windows 8 sessions

        @honeymonster. Not all of .NET is available for Metro apps. No NETFX API's that provide UI, for example, so no Winforms. Also, most disk & network IO must now be done via WinRT's async API's. Other than that, most of the NETFX BCL is available as expected.
    • RE: Microsoft Build: News from the Windows 8 sessions

      @Mike1o1 <br>Metro follows more refined MVC pattern aka MVVM pattern. And yes like honeymaster said, you could use any architectural pattern you want. The framework provides support to both MVC and MVVM straight and Microsoft recommended MVVM for Windows Phone 7 apps and Win8 Metro UI got its clues from there. And WinRT comprises both managed and unmanaged api, so .NET Classes are available. And I have developed a small app quickly with VS2011 Express and you also can try that.
      Ram U
      • RE: Microsoft Build: News from the Windows 8 sessions


        One disappointment - at last nights "Ask the Experts" I was talking to some WinRT folks and they said there was no plan to port Prism to work with "Metro"
  • BitLocker and Windows To Go on the same USB stick?

    Can you boot from a Windows To Go USB drive which is also BitLocker-encrypted? Will it be unlocked with a passphrase, TPM, another USB drive with a key?
    • Bitlocker with a passphrase

      Not with TPM, unfortunately. I sat in on the session and this was specifically pointed out.
  • How Will Dimdows To Go Prevent Bypassing Need For Activation And WGA?

    I can see concerns about "piracy" making this run-from-USB thing being rather less useful than people are expecting.
    • Run from USB is for enterprises

      The activation will be KMS (key management server) based. What this means is that the OS on the stick needs to be rendezvous with a KMS in the enterprise at least every 6 months.
      • Re: How Will Dimdows To Go Prevent Bypassing Need For Activation And WGA?

        @honeymonster I see ... so this is a feature strictly for Big, Important Corporate Customers, not supposed to be of interest to ordinary consumers?

        Looks like my prediction has already come true.
  • XNA

    I haven't seen or heard any mention of XNA, was there any talk of that? Rumors are no XNA in Windows 8, so will that be replaced by providing a layer of access to DirectX via C#/VB/JavaScript?

    That's a shame, as XNA has a great framework and really makes it quite easy to get up and running. And since XNA is really an extension of DirectX, it can prove to be quite flexible if you want to dive in deep enough.
  • RE: Microsoft Build: News from the Windows 8 sessions

    What are the graphic capabilities? That's my question? We can't use winForms, we can't use XNA, we presumably can't use WPF, how do we use 2D and 3D graphics from c# / Visual Basic application? Forms/ WPF and XNA even SilverLight in some scenarios are at their core managed DirectX. Are Microsoft saying go back to C++ with direct use of DirectX? No thanks, Maybe its time to relook at OpenGL.
  • Opposition Essential: Time to Make a Stand

    Should M$ propose a 30% cut of developers work when sold via the new Windows marketplace then the measure should be violently opposed as parasitic. Whether the method is an 'industry norm' or not now is the time to eradicate it for Windows.

    The downloading of software and fund interchange between banks uses what? A few messages between computers. I have already paid for the infrastructure and computing power my end and the financial companies are sharing out large costs ... but amongst millions of customers their end. These costs are only peanuts because corporations insist on following the trend of employing exhorbitantly expensive enterprise storage products: otherwise the costs would be microscopic (and reducing by the rate of Moore's Law at the very least).

    It is time for a 21st century marketplace where the capability of Internet Computing is managed largely for the benefit of the customers (and the planet), not to perpetuate the c20 revenue streams of the few incumbents, as the media giants would have us do.

    Time to make a stand against:

    a. 30% tax on digital goods via marketplaces

    b. expensive cloud implementations.

    ZDNET's part is to demonstrate that it is not complicit with the likes of M$ and Apple in their attempts to corner and exploit markets. And it has to be now, while new industry shapes are forming.
  • RE: Microsoft Build: News from the Windows 8 sessions

    Something that nobody has talked about - when your Metro-style app is not on screen it is suspended!

    You don't get a say as the programmer - you have about 5 seconds notice to do your thing.

    Now there is the ability to pass a class to WinRT and have it run it for you but the constraints there are not clear.

    Making it even tougher for those of us who write apps that must keep running - if your app is split (say service and GUI client) by default you cannot connect on localhost (a.k.a. unless you open up "Internet communications" in the apps manifest - bummer - I hope they either allow loopback or at least split it from the Internet connection setting
  • 30% tax - same as Apple again then? Iniquitous!

  • In Microsoft Revolving Door News...

    Microsoft is pleased to announce the addition of former UBS rogue trader Kweku Adoboli as head of the online services division.

    His proven track record of keeping losses under two billion dollars a year was the deciding factor.
  • RE: Microsoft Build: News from the Windows 8 sessions

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