Friday, November 09, 2012

My Windows 8 experience on a non-touch laptop

Here is a quick bullet list of my Windows 8 experience on a non-touch laptop:

  • Installation was smooth, but I had to check how to dual boot
  • Dual booting on Work laptop is cool. Windows 7 for the work stuff as a member of domain and all. Windows 8 for personal stuff without any link to corporate network so I don't have to bother about website restrictions or anti virus updates from office.
  • Start screen looks awesome with colorful and cool tiles.
  • Then a little confused, moving mouse to top right corner all the time to get to charm bar for accessing settings, etc. By the time I move pointer down to the required icon, sometimes charm bar will disappear.
  • Next was activation issue. It won't activate as it was enterprise copy. Got a solution for that too.
  • Installed some games and apps. Not very fast. And sometimes they crash. Cut the Rope never loaded.
  • Then realized that there are no apps to play music files.
  • Installed Music app from store.
  • Still not smooth. Music won't play sound. XBox linking is not working. Some other apps play sound (like MineSweeper). Tried many solutions suggested on net including updating drivers. Nothing helped.
  • Decided to Refresh PC. But I had no DVD. Again there was a solution.
  • I was thinking it will remove just store apps. But it did not. Instead it removed everything else including Visual Studio. Still not good. No sound in Music, Games kept crashing.
  • Tried Reset PC. Everything clean now. But still not good. No sound in Music, most games kept crashing.
  • Decided to stick to VLC Player for playing music and video on desktop.
  • Realized now that no good games are working on my laptop. May be it's an issue of graphic drivers? But it should tell me instead of resisting to load with no error messages.
  • Getting back to Desktop often... but even that is confusing with no start button there. 

I would prefer Windows 7 if my system is non-touch. I understand there are some extra features in Windows 8 like fast booting, less RAM consumption which are good and also some fancy features like new copy dialogue and picture password option.  I will give them a pass until I get a touch system. But again, would I buy a touch laptop? No I guess... a tablet with Windows 8 pro would be a better option there. And for home, an all in one big screen touch PC with Windows 8.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Windows 8 Announcement and Microsoft Platforms for LOB Apps

It may seem that Microsoft is complicating things for enterprise developers with the announcement of Windows 8 and it's new

development platform. After analyzing a lot of articles on Windows 8 and Metro features, here are my conclusions:

If you are starting a new enterprise project (LOB or Line Of Business application), first decide whether it should be a web based app or client based app.

Web apps are the new norms for LOBs as it provides maximum reach. Go for ASP.NET Web Forms if your application is heavily data driven and development time is very limited. Web Forms is also suitable if your developers are more familiar with Windows Forms than model-view-control architecture based development. Go for ASP.NET MVC if you have enough skilled developers and you want full control of the rendered HTML. MVC also provides other benefits like better testability and extensibility. If you have already not invested in Silverlight, forget about it. It is gonna be useful only to develop Windows Phone applications post Windows 8 release.

If your application demand the full resources of a client computer, go for the stand-alone windows client option. If you have already invested in WPF, go for it, as your XAML skills will still be useful to develop Metro Style apps in Windows 8. If your investement is limited to Silverlight, you can still use it to develop out of browser desktop application. But if your developers have still not mastered WPF/Silverlight, better use Windows Forms to develop your next LOB application. This technology is already well matured, has enough controls for LOB scenarios and can use all latest .NET features like LINQ and MEF. It would be easy and faster for developers to build a Win Forms app than a WPF app if they are new to XAML. More over, your win Forms app will run on Windows 8, Windows 7/Vista and Windows XP.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Microsoft Surface 2.0: the multi-touch wonder

It was worth the wait and the game has completely changed with the release of Microsoft Surface 2.0, the latest version of Microsoft's multi-touch product.

Now Microsoft has a partner in Samsung who will help with the hardware. The old bulky Surface table is now replaced with a sleek LCD panel. The new product, named as "Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface", is similar to a large LCD TV but with the multi-touch capability. People have already started calling it the world's biggest iPad.

It uses a new technology from Samsung, PixelSense, which gives LCD panels the power to see without the use of cameras.  The tiny infrared sensors wedged between pixels can sense touches, objects and tags.

Here are some specs of Surface 2.0 with the specs of Surface 1.0 in brackets:
  • Device Display: 40-inch LCD panel with Gorilla Glass (30-inch reflective surface with acrylic)
  • Resolution: 1920x1080, full HD 1080p, with a 16:9 aspect ratio (1024 x 768, no HD support)
  • Multi-touch technology: PixelSense (Projector and 5-cameras system)
  • Multi-touch capability: 50 simultaneous touches (52 simultaneous touches)
  • Device Form: 40-inch diagonal panel with 4-inch thickness (30-inch display in a table-like form factor, 22 inches high, 21 inches deep, and 42 inches wide)
  • Weight: 39.5 Kg (68 Kg)
  • Mounting: Horizontal and Vertical (Only Horizontal)
  • Processor: AMD Athlon™ II X2 Dual-Core Processor 2.9GHz paired with the AMD Radeon HD 6700M Series GPU featuring DirectX 11 support (Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.13 GHz)
  • RAM: 4 GB DDR3 (2 GB DDR2)
  • Hard Disk: 320 GB/7200 RPM (250GB SATA Hard Drive)
  • HDMI In / HDMI Out: Yes (No)
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (Windows Vista Professional 32-bit)
  • Development Platform: Surface 2.0 SDK / WPF 4.0 / .NET 4.0 (Surface 1.0 SP1 SDK  / WPF 3.5 / .NET 3.5)
  • Cost: $7,600 ($12,500) -- Approximate Values
I had enjoyed developing applications for Surface 1.0 and was always excited to explain about them to others ("You don't use a mouse or keyboard... you just drag things with your fingers like you see in Avatar!"). But it never took off as expected and was not seen in common use, mostly due to its bulky size. Now with Surface 2.0, I'm sure things will be a lot different.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Visual Studio 2010 / .NET 4.0 and WinForms

This week saw a major release from Microsoft: Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4.0. There are not many feature changes from their Beta Releases. (Also see ScottGu's and Scott Hanselman's blogs).

As expected, there is nothing new in WinForms except the fact that it can make use of many new .NET 4.0 features like MEF. And of course, there will be bug fixes and performance improvements as the Group Manager of WinForms says in response to a comment in Somasegar's Blog: "We continue to invest in WinForms for .NET FX 4.  This includes the core expectation of maintaining compatibility for applications already written in WinForms, fixing bugs that developers have reported, contributing to overall developer experiences across Visual Studio, as well as perf work and some feature development."

That "some feature" he mentioned is not to be seen any where. Look at the What's New in the .NET Framework 4 article in MSDN. It doesn't even mention WinForms!

Those who are still fond of WinForms find it comforting to say that  "WPF is still growing and it need much attention unlike WinForms which is matured and used for many critical LOB applications around the world." :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ScatterView for Windows/WPF is here!

Finally, the wait is over and Microsoft has released Surface Toolkit for Windows Touch. Now we will be able to create Windows Applications that are touch enabled and works on Windows 7 computers with touch screens. The Toolkit brings many good old Surface touch controls including the much awaited ScatterView to the Windows platform. The good thing is that tremendous research has been done by Microsoft team in the areas of user experience and usability for these controls and hence we developers can save precious time otherwise spent on developing custom touch controls.

The controls included are:
LibraryBar, LibraryContainer, LibraryStack, ScatterView, SurfaceButton, SurfaceCheckBox, SurfaceInkCanvas, SurfaceListBox, SurfaceRadioButton, SurfaceScrollViewer, SurfaceSlider, SurfaceWindow.

These touch specific controls responds to touches, stylus and mouse clicks and have many special touch features (One example is the bulging out of scroll bars when touched).

One thing that is missing from the Toolkit is a Simulator similar to the Surface Simulator to help out those developers who do not have a touch screen.  Also the applications written using these controls will now only work on Windows 7 and not on Surface. Hopefully these may change when they release the next version of Surface (Surface 2.0) based on .NET 4.0.

Microsoft Surface Toolkit for Windows Touch Beta can be downloaded from here and more details can be found at the Surface Blog.