Volume 27

Editor's Note - All Eyes on Windows 8

By Michael Desmond | 2012

Michael DesmondWelcome to the Windows 8 special edition of MSDN Magazine. As many of you have no doubt noticed, we haven’t had a lot to say about the newest Microsoft OS and the underlying Windows Runtime (WinRT). That’s about to change—starting right now.

You’re holding in your hands an unprecedented extra issue of MSDN Magazine, focused entirely on Windows 8, the Windows Runtime and the development of Windows Store apps. The Windows 8 special edition is packed with hands-on tutorials, from Jason Olson’s informative, technical dive into the Windows Runtime and how it enables Windows Store app development in C++, C#/Visual Basic and JavaScript, to Christian Schormann’s walk through using Expression Blend to create Windows Store apps built using HTML and XAML.

In between, you’ll find great resources, such as David Tepper’s exploration of memory management in the Windows Runtime, and Shawn Farkas’ guide showing how managed .NET developers can call WinRT APIs from their Windows Store applications, and Diego Dagum’s look at porting C++ MFC applications to the Windows Runtime.

There’s more where that came from, including the debut of two new columns that will be appearing regularly in MSDN Magazine going forward. Rachel Appel’s Modern Apps column works the expanding waterfront of Windows Store and rich client application development, kicking off with an informative look at the Windows Store app lifecycle and how it can be managed for optimal performance and efficiency. You might recognize Appel from her work as a columnist on the MSDN Magazine Web site, where she wrote the Web Dev Report.

Also coming to us from the MSDN Magazine Web site are Bruno Terkaly and Ricardo Villalobos, who team up to bring their Azure Insider column to print. Fitting the theme of this special issue, their inaugural column describes how to build a simple cloud-hosted service to support asynchronous clients, then shows how easy it is to call into a Web service from a Windows Store application to retrieve data.

Obviously there’s a huge amount of interest in the new Windows Store app UI and the underlying Windows Runtime, and our coverage here and going forward will reflect that interest. Our upcoming November issue, for instance, will include Windows Store app-focused explorations of C# and C++ memory-management techniques, security practices in JavaScript and design guidance for creating more-effective Windows Store app UIs.

One reason for all the excitement, says Jason Olson, senior program manager working on the Windows Runtime, is that Microsoft has pitched the proverbial big tent with the Windows Runtime. Right off the bat, developers working with C++, C#, Visual Basic and JavaScript can get to work creating Windows Store apps. That’s a huge and diverse community of developers.

“I’m very excited—this is a big value-add for the Windows Runtime itself,” Olson says of language support in the Windows Runtime. “Many different types of developers can continue leveraging their skills and assets when building Windows Store apps on Windows 8.”

Olson, in his feature (“Reimagining App Development with the Windows Runtime”), also details the value of hybrid apps under the Windows Runtime. He writes:

“There are no boundaries. As a JavaScript developer, you aren’t limited to JavaScript libraries. As a C#/Visual Basic developer, you aren’t limited to .NET libraries. And as a C++ developer, you aren’t limited to C/C++ libraries.”

As Olson told me in an interview, “Developers can take full advantage of the ‘language choice’ ability in the Windows Runtime to take advantage of many different types of code assets they have access to, regardless of whether the asset is native code, managed code or JavaScript code.”

And that, to be frank, is barely the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much going on inside, around and on top of the Windows Runtime that we could never address even a fraction of it in this special edition. Which is why MSDN Magazine readers can look forward to in-depth explorations of Windows 8, the Windows Runtime and Windows Store app development in the months to come.

Is there are a particular issue, challenge or technology related to Windows 8 and the Windows Runtime you’d like to see covered in our pages? Let us know. Send me an e-mail at mmeditor@­microsoft.com.

Michael Desmond is the Editor-in-Chief of MSDN Magazine.