With all of the changes to Microsoft's developer story it is hard to tell where they will land and how it will affect different developers. But for an educated guess here is my theory on the next generation of apps for Windows.
Windows Core Apps
- Running on .Net Core 3, eventually .Net 5
- XAML UI with first party controls built in WinUI
- Targets Windows 10, Lite OS, HoloLens, Xbox, IoT, and Xamarin
- Similar APIs to UWP, limitations on background running, runs in sandbox, suspend/resume, etc.
- More Windows APIs like the running in System tray, create and manage windows and panes etc.
- New APIs to manage 2 screens, rotating screens, machine learning magic
- Packaged to MSIX
- Optional distribution through the Microsoft Store
- UWP apps are probably more strict than Windows Core Apps will be so they can be migrated with some package manifest changes.
- WPF apps would need to target .Net Core instead of .Net Framework, also if they are making use of now restricted APIs they will have to swap over to new APIs if possible. then package to MSIX
- WinForms apps probably similar to WPF, target .Net Core, ensure no restricted APIs are used, and package to MSIX
That's my theory. I think most of it is pretty obvious, I'm curious what everyone else will think is the next step for Windows Developers, and what they want in the next generation of Windows apps.
When Microsoft announced the Windows Insider program I was super excited. I enjoy playing with beta software and giving feedback on what I think works and what needs more work. I use Windows all day at work and at home. At the time the Insider program launched I was a Windows Phone users and excited to see how Microsoft would improve their mobile platform and how they might build cross device experiences between Windows and Windows Phone.
Obviously today Windows Phone is gone and now Microsoft has hitched their wagon to Android. This strategy makes sense, but I use an iPhone so I've been watching the desktop and phone synergy from the sidelines. Now a big reason why I'd get and Android phone would be due to all of the Windows 10 integrations.
Even with activity around Your Phone it feels like the Windows Insider program is a shell of its former self. No major features, no serious redesigns, A/B testing everywhere, and most of the features which fill the blog posts these days are incredibly minor. For example: Optional Feature list Multi-select, Zooming on Snip & Sketch, Toast Notification icon on the toast, etc. These little improvements are important for users of Windows, but this isn't my idea of the Windows Insider program.
Perhaps this is a transitional period for Windows. With leadership changing and shifting, new Edge being developed, a refocus on productivity and stability. I hope Microsoft keeps trying to improve how millions of people everyday use Windows for work and play. And if the Windows team gets the green light to build bigger features, maybe the insider program will become interesting again.
But for now there isn't enough in the Windows Insider program keeping me interested to wade through all of the confusion and minutiae.
Does anyone else feel the same? Will the excitement every return or is it a slow march toward the sunset?
My custom built desktop PC is on the Release Preview ring and it has seen the 19H1 build which is was recently pushed to that ring. It tries to install but fails when it does some compatibly check. Sadly this process further highlights the Windows team's knack for building software which confuses and frustrates users.
Here is the process:
- Open Settings app and check for updates
- Update found 19H1, begins downloading
- Downloading compete, begins installing
- "Install unable to compete" so I click the button which says "Fix Issues"
- A traditional desktop window pops up and tries to install the update
- That window fails and says there are compatibility issues
At this point there is no clear path forward do I click "refresh" on this new window? There are no indications of what is causing the error, is it the webcam or my mouse or my video card? No clues.
So then I click X to close the window but a message pops up saying "updates have not been installed are you sure you want to exit the installer?" Now what the heck?? No, I'm not sure I want to close the installer. I want to install the updates but apparently they won't install... so what am I supposed to do leave this window up until Microsoft fixes the mysterious compatibility error?? To add to the stupidity of this situation Windows Update apparently has no way of registering that there is an error with this update and will try to install it over and over and over with the same error.
This is the kind of half-ass software development Microsoft is famous for which normal people bump up against and end up with a bad taste in their mouth.
Microsoft is a strange company. It blows my mind how much work they put into Windows for their two major feature releases a year. Also bug fixes every month (if not every week). Even though most Windows users don't seem to be asking for updates and would prefer a slower update schedule Microsoft insists on marching onward with their two updates a year.
Yet on the other end of the product development continuum is the lightweight, always fresh cloud services. Products like Microsoft ToDo, Planner, Skype, OneNote, Outlook.com, OneDrive, etc. all seem to get a major update every five years or so. It is crazy to me how slowly Microsoft updates their new products. For example Planner has been pretty basic for a long time; Microsoft ToDo is still not as capable as Wunderlist; OneDrive online UI still uses the old app switcher and hasn't added user requested features for years (i.e. more storage).
Am I missing something or does Microsoft update their old legacy products so much it is a problem while at the same time ignores user requests for updates/features on their new products? I feel like I am taking crazy pills!
Paul has mentioned a couple of times on podcasts how with each new tech 'revolution' the boom and bust seems to happen bigger and faster, and I would venture to guess this new ambient computing revolution will follow that trend.
What made me think of this was the dip in iPhone sales for many reasons, but one of them being consumers are holding on to their devices for longer. This is the same problem the PC industry has encountered where the computers they make are so good most people don't need to replace them.
With Amazon Echos, Google Homes, HomePods, and Invokes there may never be a good reason for most people to upgrade them. Since they are so simple, there is very little which can be improved from a hardware side. More accurate microphones and better sounding speakers are about the only consumer facing improvements which could be touted.
So if these ambient devices are:
- Not going to be replaced every few years
- Not require a monthly subscription
- Don't currently push ads
Where will companies find the justification for keeping these devices supported? I would guess since Amazon might sell some things via their Echos they are the only company with some sort of related revenue stream. I personally would be super unhappy about Google pushing ads through my Google Home.
What do you think will be the long term life of these devices? Will Google and Amazon press Spotify and Apple for some portion of the streaming revenue? Will ads become a more major source of funding? Will the smarts be turned off and all of the speakers turn into Alexa and Google Home branded Wi-Fi speakers?
I am a cautious tester of the Insider Builds. Since it has been a steady stream of primarily bug fix builds, I thought I'd try out the latest fast ring build.
Unfortunately for me Windows had other plans. I cannot install the latest build. The install process freezes at 48% and does not complete. I hold down the power button on my HP laptop and reboot and Windows repairs and works fine again.
This has happened with the latest build (18312) and the previous build (18309). I'm worried that Microsoft is in store for another botched update roll-out.
I did find this support post, which did not help in any way.
Has anyone else seen update problems with the Insider builds? Any suggestions for how to fix this issue?
As Outlook.com stands today it could not be packaged as a PWA and replace the Windows Mail app. Outlook.com is an email service, but the mail app is an email client. There is no way to connect multiple email accounts through Outlook.com similar to how it is done in Windows Mail.
Microsoft could obviously update Outlook.com to become a mail client which works to display and manage any email service, but right now that is not how the web app works.
Am I missing something here? What do you think, should Microsoft convert Outlook.com into a universal web based email client?
I have been running regular Windows 10 for a while, but I recently jumped into the fast ring last week and was very disappointed.
New Features in RS5:
- Cloud Clipboard
- More fluent around the shell
- Edge menus redesigned, added jumplist support
- Dark mode for Windows Explorer
Am I crazy or does RS5 look more like RS4.1 than a full new feature release.
Also I see so many issues with this build, slow performance, buggy UI, still very inconsistent design language. All the first party apps are still under-powered and under-featured and lacking support for core OS features like Timeline.
Has anyone else been disappointed with this version of Windows?
This is the session on the Windows 10 on ARM and it is pretty crazy how apps can be recomplied with VS17.8 preview and be ran on ARM. There is a demo where he recompiles a VPN driver with zero code changes and runs it on ARM. Pretty amazing.
Ever since Surface was announced I loved the idea of a single device which could be powerful and flexible. When the Surface Pro was announced I was interested in the low latency pen input, so I went to my nearest Microsoft Store and played with one.
The pen experience was amazing. The device was thin, not as light as I thought it would be, but overall stunning. I decided I would save and eventually buy one. Last week the wait was over and I stopped by the same Microsoft Store and bought an i5 with 8GB RAM and 265GB Storage.
I rushed home and eagerly waited as the ‘Update Assistant’ downloaded the Fall Creators Update. The Update Assistant failed to install for unknown reasons, so I went through Windows Update which had a bunch of updates, then 1709, and a couple of hours later it was all up to date.
Using the Surface Pro was fast, responsive, quirky, buggy, and quickly began to feel like just another a half-baked Microsoft product. I should have known the failed update assistant was a bad omen, but the experience did not improve from there.
Disclaimer before I begin describing all the factors leading me to return the Surface Pro. I’m a big Microsoft fan. I used a Windows Phone longer than I should have, I develop UWP apps in my spare time, I was a Groove subscriber, I have been using O365 for years, I use Edge as my primary browser, I have multiple Windows devices in my house, I use Cortana, I use Bing, and OneNote is my favorite piece of software ever to be created. So to say the least I was excited to finally have this Surface Pro.
A big reason why I wanted to get a Surface Pro over the laptop or book was because I wanted a single device I could use as a tablet and a laptop. I’m an engineer during the day so I do a fair amount of sketching, annotating, and marking up on paper and PDFs. I use OneNote all day every day. I thought the Surface Pro would be the ideal device for me.
At first everything was going great, but as soon as I began using the Surface as a tablet the cracks began to show. Tablet Mode in Windows 10 is broken. The experience is terrible and there is no way to master it. Apps would routinely crash, only viewing two apps at once seemed pointlessly limiting. The compact keyboard and the pen input panel just float wherever, over the app you’re writing in or whatever it has no idea.
I have some content in the Movies and TV app, and I was playing Futurama in Compact Overlay while I browsing with Edge. When I would activate the Task View via the left edge swipe, Futurama would pause, then not be able to resume and when I switched to the Movies and TV app the episode would jump to the end and the next one would play. This bug was easy to replicate, a pain, and made the experience feel cheap.
Listening to music while in tablet mode was also painful. If I wanted to pause, play, next track, or previous track there were two options. First I could switch over to Spotify (which is a pain to use with touch) and then have full control. The other option was to bump the volume rocker and get a Windows 8 overlay from which I could control the music. Neither are too bad when you are using the device, but they are clunky, not ideal, and cheap feeling.
If you are listening to music on the Surface and not also working on the device the music situation is a blast from the past. Inline headphone controls do not work on the Surface. Also pressing the lock button after setting your music stops the music. When the screen times out and goes off the music will keep playing, but the keyboard pause button does not respond until the device has been awakened. This made me prefer to use my iPhone for music over my fancy new Surface.
The Taskbar is a core and essential tool when working on Windows . In tablet mode it is a sloppy mess. When there are too many icons Windows just mushes them all together and gives a dinky scrollbar to cycle through the app icons. So naturally they are hidden by default. Which means you must use the Task View to switch between apps, which as I mentioned does not work great with all apps, and requires you to take one hand off the device to pick the app to switch to.
The touch keyboard experience continued the disappointment. There was odd lag between tapping a text field and seeing the keyboard; when it decided to pop up at all. Also I never knew what keyboard I was going to get, pen input or small keyboard? To me those are the only two keyboards worthwhile when using the Surface as a tablet because they don’t take up 50% of the display like the standard and the split keyboards do.
Using Microsoft’s first party apps in tablet mode are a non-stop disappointment. For example, Mail and Calendar are so basic and are hard to use with touch and have zero awareness of pens. This is so surprising that Microsoft wouldn’t think to make their built in apps the best mouse, keyboard, touch, and pen apps the world has ever seen. Unfortunately they are a disappointment for every input method other than mouse. Maybe the people who build these apps were told to keep them dumbed-down and basic to avoid competition with Outlook 2016, but that would be sad if true.
Honestly I do not know how Microsoft can look at the Surface Pro and in any way suggest it should be used as a tablet. The device is essentially a super expensive weird laptop. I would be willing to live with all of these oddities and quirks if the device was $800, but clocking in at over $1,600 with pen and keyboard I cannot pretend this is a good value.
If you are a high paid, high visibility executive and are avoiding using an iPad in meetings then the Surface Pro is a really cool looking device. However, for 99.9% of everyone else either stick with laptops, or find a Windows tablet as cheap as the Tablet Mode experience.
As for me I’ll be returning the Surface Pro and going back to sharing the three year old HP x360 with my wife.
TL;DR Tablet Mode is broken, the touch keyboard is inconsistent and odd, nearly impossible to be productive in Tablet Mode. Built in apps are not aware of the pen. Bad media experience. Found myself just using the device as a laptop.
With the unsurprising announcement that Groove Music Pass is being discontinued it makes me wonder if Microsoft is too strict or fearful to cheat like everyone else.
If you look at how Amazon runs Amazon Prime it is clearly anti-competitive behavior. They are using their dominance in online commerce to fund their side services like Prime Streaming.
Microsoft seems to be the only one of the big 4 tech giants to be concerned with every single service being separate and individually profitable.
What do you think? Should Microsoft use more loss-leaders like Amazon, Apple, and Google do? Will Microsoft’s current strategy continue to be successful long into the future?
I’m the developer of Ink Calendar and I just pushed a big update over the weekend. I was looking for a calendar app on Windows where I could draw on the days like a paper calendar. When I couldn’t find one I decided to make one myself!
Ink Calendar is great for small notes, drawings, and planning. I just connected to the Windows 10 calendar data so your events can be displayed while you ink over or around them.
Let me know what you think! I am a new developer and will continue to add more features. If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them!
You can get it here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/ink-calendar/9pgpbwm9nfzc
So it is no secret that Progressive Web Apps are the future for the majority of development. Most major popular applications are looking for how they can implement their app as a PWA. It obviously saves lots of money and time because their is only one target platform with one set of tools.
The really interesting thing to me is how PWAs are beginning to eat into mobile app development. There seems to be a movement where tech companies are trying again to move back to using their website as their only product. I've seen demos from Twitter and Lyft where their entire app happens through a browser. If this trend continues then Microsoft's position to break back into mobile is looking better and better.
What do you think, do PWAs give new life to a mobile device from Microsoft?
(sorry for the click-bait headline. I just thought Paul would cringe at the thought of PWAs being used as an excuse that Windows Mobile is not dead)
Many times Paul makes the case that it makes more sense for people to spend $1,000 on a phone and $500 on a computer or tablet or whatever because you use it more, and derive more value from it. Most recently he said this on GFQ but I've heard him say it many times: https://youtu.be/IOZwt6AX5CE?t=28m16s
This logic doesn't make sense to me at all. So, you should spend more money on a device you use more often, even if spending more money on it doesn't return more value to you?
For example. I can go buy a 32GB iPhone 6s for $549 or I could go buy a 256GB iPhone 7 for $849. When it comes down to my return on investment, they have nearly the exact same return with one requiring a much larger investment. The iPhone 7 might be a bit faster and obviously has more storage, but in all my time using my iPhone I've never needed more than 32GB thanks to the cloud.
Furthermore, both devices are great build quality, good warranty, great customer support, and on and on. When buying a PC that is not the case. A $300 HP stream does not have the same level of build quality as a $1500 HP x360. Also for the additional price you get a more flexible device, which pen and touch support, more ports, faster ports, better quality screens, and of course faster components.
It seems like the justification for spending $1000 on a laptop far outweighs the justification for spending $1000 on an iPhone.
What do you think? Did I miss Paul's point? Do you agree/disagree with Paul? How do you decide how to allocate your tech budget?
Recently Paul wrote a post about how it is embarrassing for Microsoft to keep failing at mobile and they should give up. Personally I don't think they should give up.
Currently Microsoft has nothing to lose when it comes to mobile. No market share means more flexibility to do whatever they want. In the same way Google uses profit from search to fund all their other projects, Microsoft should use their profits from Azure, Windows, and Office to fund their mobile experiments.
Mobile is like web search, it'll be around forever. The same reasons Microsoft held on to Bing are why they should hold on to mobile. Hopefully with Windows on ARM Microsoft can differentiate themselves and offer a compelling mobile strategy.
We'll see what the future holds. What do you think?
Has anyone connected their iPhones to the Bluetooth Xbox controller? How did it work? What apps did you use it with?
It seems like OneNote has been put on life support. Microsoft hasn't added any new features to the product family in like 5 years! Also there is no clear vision for the future of the product. Is Microsoft moving away from OneNote or are they working on it all behind the scenes? It is getting insane photo cropping is still not an option.
I recently got the new Outlook Mail experience and updated my phone to iOS 10. Now I am having strange issues with contact sync where every once and a while my iPhone will not be able to see any of my contacts on my Live.com account.
Has anyone else had this or similar issues? Did you fix it? Is the problem on Microsoft's or Apple's end?