With the new Windows 11 Microsoft is relying on “developers, developers, developers!”
The introduction of Windows 11 depends a lot on the introduction of Windows. Not only is Microsoft launching a major new version of Windows, it is also confirming Windows’ role in Microsoft history. In the past few years, it may have appeared that Azure is the future of Microsoft, with Windows being just another client for a global, cross-platform cloud.
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While this was never actually the case, it gave the impression that Windows was a minor issue when it comes to investing. Windows 11 aims to change that perception, with Kevin Gallo, the Windows Developer Platform’s CVP, in charge. We sat down with him last week to talk about what Windows 11 has in store for developers. “It’s in our DNA,” he said, “our company was built by developers, it was built for developers.” That’s the story; Now he’s looking at the next step: “Microsoft is once again committed to making Windows the best platform for development.”
This is an important obligation to be fulfilled. So is Microsoft going both the way and the talk? First there is the new, open Microsoft Store. If Windows 11 is to be successful as a platform, it must be able to deliver software quickly to users and help them find the tools they need, while giving developers a way to make a living from their work.
Earning a living: sales
The Microsoft Store’s own payment system is relatively small, but opening the store to all payment systems is a big step. This means that you can not only find software like Adobe’s Creative Cloud there, but also download other stores. Amazon and Epic Games have announced that they will add theirs to Microsoft, and more are likely to follow.
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You can also find all kinds of apps in the Microsoft Store, from modern apps built using the latest technologies to older Win32 apps with support for the most popular installers. There will also be improved PWA support, with sites like Reddit available as PWAs in the store. Microsoft will continue to curate its storefront, but it won’t stop you from uploading your code. Other restrictions, such as the browser engine requirements, are also removed: Other browsers such as Firefox can be made available for download in the store. Instead of limiting the capabilities of Store apps, Microsoft relies on the reputation and rating of quality apps to get them to the top.
Delight users: design
It’s also important to encourage developers to create applications that take advantage of the many new features Windows 11 offers. The key here is the Windows App SDK and its associated WinUI 3 tools, building on the existing Fluent Design model and adding new Mica material to its controls. Both will also support older versions of Windows that follow the Windows support lifecycle, but when apps run on Windows 11, the new behavior will light up without developers having to manage multiple versions. Gallo states, “This is not just about creating small widgets, it is about introducing big platform features.”
SEE: A new Microsoft Store: what does it mean for you and your company? Actually a lot (TechRepublic)
Other new features are less obvious, but are critical to a consistent user experience. New WinUI controls have their own relatively subtle animations (Microsoft reversed some of its early plans for animation when you hover over an icon, but it uses it to give the user subtle confirmation that they are on a Icon has clicked). All you have to do is add the controls to your application. Microsoft is providing design guides on how to use these new animation features, with Gallo telling us that the guide builds on Microsoft’s experience in user research and lets developers say:. “
The introduction of new design features is intended to accelerate the rollout of WinUI 3 and to provide developers with controls that support fluent and support the rounded geometry of Windows 11. Windows 11’s rounded corners aren’t just for windows, the same rounding is used in controls too, along with new variable-width fonts, including a new version of the well-known Segoe UI icon font, Segoe UI Variable. All you have to do is use WinUI 2.6 or higher to take advantage of the new fluent elements and to upgrade to higher versions as part of a migration to the Windows App SDK.
Building better code: developers
Windows 11 is not just redesigning the desktop. It also introduces new technologies like direct storage to quickly move data from storage to the GPUs. It is designed to help game developers and holds great promise for other technologies that use Direct X to work with GPUs, such as:
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Perhaps the most important aspect of the Windows 11 launch for developers is that Microsoft is reaffirming Windows’ place at the heart of an ecosystem. Gallo spoke of Windows as “an open platform for developers to build their business on”. That’s essentially the Windows platform’s original promise, which made it possible to build a billion dollar business on its APIs and tools.
These APIs are key to the Windows 11 developer promise, as Gallo said, “Because we’re open on Windows and you get access to all of these APIs, you can do things you can’t do anywhere else.” The final piece of the puzzle is an agnostic, open store that supports all development models, along with new ways to build better applications to give this platform the solid foundation it needs.
Gallo went further and made a promise, for developers and for their future: “If they bet with Windows they can trust us, they can trust us not to pull the rug and they eat or whatever. They can go build it start a business with the confidence that you have a long-term roadmap on Windows. “