Category Archives: News

News about software development. Particularly about web development and/or the Microsoft Stack, but not limited to it.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview- Diving in head first

On February 29th Microsoft released the Consumer Preview (Beta) of Windows 8 and at that time I installed it on the Build Developer Tablet and in a virtual machine (VMware player).  For the most part I have been pretty happy with my experiences with the new O/S so far, so…  After a playing with it a few weeks on the tablet (and a little in the VM), I have taken the plunge and Installed it on my primary desktop machine.  Ok, I’m only partly committed, I set up a boot from VHD configuration so I can boot Windows 7 still and get things done if needed, but the plan is to try to use the Consumer Preview as my day to day operating system. 

One of the big motivating factors for me is that I really want to be able to spend some time developing (or at least playing with developing) Metro Applications.  I have done a bit in the VM and on the tablet, but It just seemed it would be easier with a full blown desktop system.  Not so much for the horsepower, the Build Tablet has plenty of power and memory, but rather the ergonomics of the situation.  I wanted to be able to work on a system with dual displays, and a full mouse and keyboard.  (Call me spoiled if you want…)

As compared to the Developer Preview that was released at the Build Conference in September the operating system as a whole seems more polished and more stable.  I haven’t experienced any of the hard lockups (requiring a reboot to recover) that I saw a few times with the Dev. Preview.  Most of the included applications seem more polished and reliable as well. 

I personally have found the mouse interaction better than the Dev. Preview, although I have read a lot of posts to the contrary.  I thought a few of the mouse interactions still need a bit of polish, particularly some of the interactions around the corners of the screens seem a bit jumpy, but since I have moved to running on the metal it seems much smoother.

I can’t express how happy I am that I can now close my Metro applications.  (Yeah ! Smile)  To close a Metro application via touch grab it by the top edge with a finger and drag it to the bottom of the screen.  It takes a little experimenting to get the hang of it, but it quickly became second nature.  With a mouse you can move the pointer to the top edge of the screen and it will change to a hand, then just click and drag it down top the bottom edge.

Now that I have things running on dual displays there are a couple of things that are bugging me.

  1. I can only run the Start Screen and Metro Apps on the primary display which feels kind of odd.  Why can’t I put a Metro app on the second screen?  Weird…

    MetroApp

  2. Using an app on the desktop on the second screen while having the Start Screen up on the Primary screen results in some odd behavior.  (The Screen goes blank)

    BlankStartScreen

  3. If I have an app on the desktop running on the primary screen with the Start Screen up (Covering the desktop app) and I click on the desktop on the second screen I can’t get to my application.  The start screen goes blank, so it feels like the desktop has focus, but there doesn’t appear to be a way to get to my app.

    Windows 8 Desktop

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Windows 8 Consumer Preview Released

If you hadn’t heard, Windows 8 Consumer Preview was released this morning (you can get it at http://preview.windows.com/).  So far I have installed it on both the Build Developer Tablet and in a Virtual Machine (VMware Player) and both installs were relatively quick and painless.

So far it seems stable (5 hours in LOL).  It seems to be coming together fairly nicely.  Once I have had some time to work with it a bit, I’ll post something a bit more substantial.  For now here is some screen shots. 

The Lock Screen

LockScreen

The Start Screen

StartScreen

Notice you can now choose from a few color schemes and texture patterns for the Start Screen.  Also you can now group items.

 

The App Store

Store

 

Included Apps

Weather

Weather

 

Calendar

Calendar

Calendar.Day

 

Maps

Maps

Maps.Traffic

 

Solitaire (of course)

Solitaire

 

Visual Studio 11 Beta on Windows 8

Microsoft also released the Beta version of Visual Studio 11 this morning.  Here’s a quick shot of the new Dark Theme.

VisualStudio.11

You can download the Visual Studio 11 Beta from http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/11/en-us

The Build Wrap Up

Unfortunately, as is often the case at a large developer conference, the Internet connection gave out on Friday morning and I was unable to make my post for Thursday’s sessions.  I attended a couple of more sessions Friday and left directly from the conference for the airport and didn’t arrive home until after 2am Saturday.  Now that I am back home and settled in, Let’s just do a wrap up of the conference.

On Thursday & Friday I attended a few really good sessions, specifically “Future Directions for C# and Visual Basic” presented by Anders Hejlsberg, “Creating immersive data experiences with Entity Framework” presented by David Annsley-DeWinter & Jeff Derstadt, and “Building real-time web apps with HTML5 WebSockets” presented by Ravi Rao.

Of the Sessions I attended I would recommend watching the following if you missed them:

One of the sessions I was looking forward to on Thursday was cancelled (Building IIS and ASP.NET apps with the power of async – Damian Edwards and Phil Haack).  I believe they are planning on recording the session once back in Redmond, so I’ll post a link when I see the video.

Windows 8 Developer Preview

If you were not lucky enough to attend Build and receive a Window 8 Developer Preview PC you can download the Windows 8 Developer Preview from http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/apps/br229516.  Scott Hanselman has a good article on how to set up a Windows 7 PC to boot from Virtual Disk.  I have followed this guide and installed The preview on the PDC09 Laptop. It seems to work well so far.

Beta & technical preview downloads – Announced this week

Executive Conference Summary – Key Take Aways

The conference really revolved around the Release of Windows 8 Developer Preview and Building Apps for the new Metro Interface.

Microsoft has put significant effort into improving performance of the operating system for Windows 8.  Boot times seem to be much quicker, the UI seems very responsive and the memory footprint for the O/S has been cut nearly in half.

Windows 8 will ship with a new Windows App Store for Metro Apps.

The new Metro Interface looks a lot like the Windows Phone 7 Metro Interface.  When writing an application for Windows going forward you will have the choice of building a traditional Win32 (or .Net WinForms/WPF) app running on the desktop or a new Metro Style app running on the new WinRT (Windows Run Time).  The two environments cannot be mixed, the new Metro Style apps are sandboxed.  Also note that you cannot use GDI in Metro Style Apps, only Direct X.

As a web developer I spent most of my time attending the ASP.Net and Visual Studio 11 sessions, but there were a lot of great sessions on a whole range of topics around developing for Windows 8.  I would recommend checking out Channel9 on MSDN to learn more and watch the sessions.

In ASP.Net 4.5 Web Forms gets support for Model Binding,  Strongly Typed Data Controls, Support for Data Annotations.  All ASP.Net applications get better support for HTML 5 and CSS3, CSS Folding, auto tag matching, new improved design view support (borrowed from Expression Blend as I recall) along with a newly designed style in all the project templates. 

ASP.Net 4.5 also includes the ASP.NET Optimization – Bundling package which combines and minifies the CSS and JavaScript files in your Web Application.  This package is available as a Nuget Package for ASP.Net 4.0, so we can start using it today.