And yes, the stream of controlled Windows 8 leaks continues. This time around, Thurrot and Rivera have published a number of screenshots from Windows 8’s brand-new tablet user interface, and surprise surprise, its built on Metro, the same design language that underpins Windows Phone 7. Windows 8 will also include its own PDF reader, Modern Reader, which also happens to be the first application packaged in Microsoft’s new AppX format. Update: Long Zheng has some technical details on AppX, including this little tidbit: “The extensive list of properties signifies the comprehensive scope of this system to be the ideal deployment strategy for ‘applications’, in all essence of the word. In fact, the AppX format is universal enough so it appears to work for everything from native Win32 applications to framework-based applications and even *gasp* web applications. Games are also supported.”
Rivera’s WithinWindows site, which hosted shots of the new tablet user interface, has already buckled under the massive amounts of traffic. Thurrot has the shots as well, and they show a tablet variant of Internet Explorer 9, which looks a lot like the Windows Phone 7 IE, except with the IE9 rendering engine, of course. Browser history is implemented as WP7-stile tiles (like ‘tabs’ in Windows Phone 7 IE).
The PDF reader, dubbed Modern Reader, also takes a lot of cues from the Metro design language. The back button, the page scrubber – it’s instantly recognisable for a Windows Phone 7 user such as myself. This is a major step for Microsoft, and one that many of us have been longing for for a while now: a native, pre-installed PDF reader for Windows. It will be interesting to see if any anti-trust concerns pop up from Adobe, which gets the bulk of its traffic from PDF Reader downloads for Windows.
What is more interesting, perhaps, about Modern Reader than its Metro user interface is the fact that the application is built for the new AppX package format, which will allow developers to package applications for deployment among all form factors – tablets, phones, and regular computers. Microsoft intends to allow developers to easily scale their existing Windows Phone 7 applications to use AppX.
Thurrot and Rivera claim that Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 (codenamed ‘Apollo’) will both standardise on the AppX application format. That’s one fine incentive for developers – write your application, and have it scale from phones to tablets to desktops. Apple already offers something similar, of course, so Microsoft is a tad bit late to the game.
That’s one fine incentive for developers – write your application, and have it scale from phones to tablets to desktops. Apple already offers something similar, of course, so Microsoft is a tad bit late to the game.
They do? I must have missed a big announcement. Last I checked, you got to write your app once for OS X, and then rewrite the whole UI for iOS using a different framework. Sure, there’s a third-party framework in development that will let you use iOS’s UIKit APIs on OS X, but even that’s not a complete solution, and it’s not something offered by Apple.
Windows Phone 7 apps can share much more of their codebase with desktop OSes (Windows *and* Mac) via Silverlight. So Microsoft is already ahead in this area, and providing a common app distribution format will put them firmly in the lead.