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Migration Considerations for Windows 8 Style Apps

Reimagine your apps

There is a famous saying "Imagination is the creativity behind all innovations."

In today's world where there is a plethora of smart devices to the market, the growth of smart devices is changing our work patterns. Enterprises are looking to build a solution that will give unified experience across all devices and stay connected on their personal device around the clock - whether in the office, at home or traveling. The enterprises are facing challenges to build apps that follow the principle of write-once and run-anywhere, any-device - smartphones, tablets, desktops or laptops without managing separate code-base.

Welcome to the world of Windows 8. It addresses these challenges. Windows 8 brings touch screen experience and deployment across multiple devices and anytime anywhere connectivity out-of-the-box. Windows 8 style apps enable developers to provide uniform end-user experience across all the supported Win RT devices. This article explains the key considerations for the migration of existing applications.

Windows 8 Overview
Windows 8 introduces a new STYLE UI design system interface that was first introduced in the Windows 7 Phone mobile operating system. The new user interface flashes a "Start screen" with Applications in the form of "Live Tiles". Users will also be able to shift between apps by swiping the screen. New windows 8-style apps have a brand new look and feel, run on multiple devices, and download these apps from the Windows 8 store. These apps follow write-once and run-anywhere, any-device principle. The following table describes some of the salient features of Windows 8 apps:

Feature

Description

New User Experience

New Window 8 style UI is fast & fluid to use, immersive, full-screen and beautiful.

Always connected

Live Tiles  gets real-time data for example Facebook comments, weather updates, etc.

Integration with Cloud

Windows 8 Apps have native connectivity with cloud based storages, upload documents to SkyDrive, and Sync content back to Tablet/PC,

App store

Windows 8 Marketplace is the Apps Store for all Windows 8 applications. End users can browse & download application as well as upload their own applications to Marketplace. Tablet, PC and Mobile users can make use of these Apps.

Auto update process

Windows Market place automatically provides notification to end users, if there is any update to the existing App

Windows to Go

This feature allows entire Windows 8 system to be run from a USB device; this is one of the key reasons why enterprise users decided to deploy Windows 8.

Roam to the Cloud

End users can sync Apps, documents, images, music files across all Windows 8 compatible devices.

Key Migration Considerations
The enterprises are facing challenges to build apps that follow the principle of write-once and run-anywhere, any-device - smartphones, tablets, desktops or laptops - without managing a separate code-base. Windows 8 brings together all the power and flexibility we have in the PC today with the ability to immerse us in a new UI style experience. There are specific considerations and various steps to follow when porting various apps to the New UI style apps. In this section we talk about key considerations to port an existing app to Windows 8-Style UI.

User Experience Considerations
Windows 8-Style UI is fast and fluid to use, immersive, full-screen, beautiful, and optimized for devices; it supports multi device resolution. Users will have inimitable user experience across the devices with different resolutions. The following table describes user experience considerations:

Feature

Description

New UX Guidelines

Windows 8-style apps are designed to fulfill user's needs with full screen, also helps users to interact with apps, gives tablet user experience.

Touch Experience

Touch interactions make the user in control and confident across form factors: mobile, tablet, laptop/desktop.

Contracts & Notifications

Easily share data between different applications. Users get live details in one place without opening Application.

Fast and Fluid

Users directly interact with content and response very quickly.

Snapping and scaling

Make the best use of on-screen space by leveraging the fluid layout which is supported by platform, also automatically adjust scaling based on device resolution and size

Architecture Considerations
New and updated technologies are used to build Windows 8 Applications.

Feature

Description

Presentation Layer

Windows 8-Style apps can build using XAML with C# or VB,HTML5 with CSS3, JavaScript, plus DirectX with native C++, XAML with native C++.

Business Layer & DAL Layer

Redevelop Business layer using portable class. Extend existing services to cloud with a WCF / Restful wrapper. There is no Native support to Database from Windows 8 App; so WCF needs to expose in order to interact with database.

Always Connected

Provide updated content through live tiles and notifications. Notifications and Live tiles leverages same infrastructure, and can update data any time with the Windows Push Notification Service.

Roam to the Cloud

Users can sync their apps, data, pictures, videos and settings etc., across all devices.

Integration with Cloud

Connecting apps, files, PCs and devices to the cloud with SkyDrive etc.,

Integration and Security Considerations

Windows 8 integrates with Cloud, SkyDrive, Twitter and Facebook. Custom apps are designed to sync data from various sources. Also Windows 8 has included some serious security enhancements to protect systems from viruses, spyware, Trojan horses, rootkits, and other malware system.

Feature

Description

SkyDrive

Leverage SkyDrive storage to store files and personal data, enabling people to share photos, reducing the redundancy of data on user system

Live SDK

Applications that use Live SDK will be able to leverage features such as Single Sign ON

Windows Azure

Windows 8-Style Apps leverage Windows Azure Toolkit to store data in the cloud and Push Notification service.

New Logon Methods

Four-digit PIN and Picture Password are introduced two new password types for logging into windows.

Secure boot

Promoting new type of boot method, Unified Extensible Firmware Interface offers better security, faster startup times and prevent unauthorized firmware

Package Capabilities

Package manifest contains deployment instructions, intervention for device resources

Integration Patterns

App-to-App, App-to-Cloud, Enterprise-to-Cloud

Deployment and Lifecycle Considerations
There are two options to deploy Windows 8 applications to customers; "Windows Store" is the best place to distribute applications to the broadest set of customers. "Direct Distribution" is suitable for custom and proprietary line-of-business apps within the enterprise. Windows 8 is also using new lifecycle events to make apps always feel alive, improve performance and reduce battery usage.

Feature

Description

App Store

Windows 8 Application Package supports multiple devices compatibility, this package can be downloaded from Windows store and deploy in any Windows 8 compatible devices. Microsoft certifies the App Store Deployment & publishing process

App Install, Update & Removal

No manual interaction is required for App Install/Update process. Users will be notified for updates and Apps are automatically recycled

License & Pricing Models:

Windows Store offers different pricing models, and rewards to popular apps. Collect full price, Time-limited, Feature-limited, In-app and Third-party transactions are options to bill customers.

Optimize memory & battery-life

Apps are "one-at-a-time" compatible, OS manage the background activities. Apps have 3 states - Running, Suspend, NotRunning

Suspend

New Windows 8 style Apps stop running when the user switches to another App. Windows suspends App when it is not in the foreground. When App is suspended, it is frozen in memory

Resume

When App is resumed, Windows 8 OS continues from the state where it was suspended it. User don't need to restore any saved data explicitly when receiving the resuming event

Windows 8 brings a whole bunch of smart-capabilities; while it is possible to develop apps that follow the principle of write-once and run-anywhere, any-device - smartphones, tablets, desktops or laptops; it comes with an additional engineering cost and effort. Therefore, it is recommended that you evaluate the cost-benefits of migration based on the convenience and needs of a given app across devices.

More Stories By Venkata Sirangi

Venkata Appaji Sirangi is Technology Architect currently working with Infosys Technologies Ltd. He has 10+ years of experience on systems built on Microsoft Technologies including SharePoint, ASP.NET, C#, SQL Server etc., CSP framework and web services. He has worked on SharePoint Guidance Project along with the Microsoft Team.

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