# Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Today is day 3 of running the Windows 8 Build tablet. Apparently I am the only person in Hong Kong with the Build Win8 tablet and everyone I  know in Hong Kong wants to play with it. Some Telerik customers read my blog post from yesterday and asked me if they can play with the tablet too. I set up a meeting at a local pub in Hong Kong to allow some Telerik customers to play with the tablet. So today, the tablet went into the wild. Smile

Stop 1: Starbucks

I was a little early to meet our customers, so I hung out at Starbucks. Just about all of the PCs in the Starbucks were Macs. I whip out the WinPad and it turned a lot of heads. One guy even came up to me and asked me what type of tablet I had. I did an impromptu demo since I was in the middle of a tweet war with some Telerik colleagues back in Bulgaria. Passed the tech elite/Starbucks test. SMS from our customer, so time to meet at the pub.

Stop 2: The Pub

When the Telerik customers showed up at the pub they went to work with the tablet. They liked the desktop mode option and we got into a long discussion on Metro only vs non Metro only devices.  Played a little with Visual Studio and looked at the references for a native XAML app. Spent a lot of time on Metro. We all agreed that if Win8 delivers as promised, Apple has a ton of completion on its hands. After an hour of playing and talking, I can say that it passed the enterprise customer test. We’re late for a networking event, so it is time for the next pub.

Stop 3: The Next Pub

There is a monthly networking event in Hong Kong called Web Wednesday where the techies and social media types gather around and talk shop. When we walked into the pub, I bumped into Furuzonfar (Foo-bar for short), a buddy of mine who is a student in Hong Kong University. Furuzonfar is an avid WP7 user and took the tablet for a test run. Pretty soon there was a circle of people around him and they where playing for a long time. Passed the college kid test.

A guy from Intel came by and played with it for a while too. He was happy that it was running an Intel chip. Smile Then some other WP7 enthusiasts came by and I had to snag a photo. Suddenly WP7 is a lot more compelling.

2011-09-21 19.20.10

Furuzonfar was generating so much attention that a reporter from the Financial Times came by and wanted to know what was going on.  I wrestle the tablet away from the college kids/Intel dude and do a demo for the FT reporter. She particularly liked how you can snap an app to the side of the window. As a mac user, she was impressed, so it passed the reporter test.

Finally it was time for the tablet’s field trip to end and I headed home. All in all, a lot of activity for a tablet in one evening.  I head home to New York for the weekend and will see if it passed the hardest test of all, the Mom test.

posted on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 11:33:51 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Yesterday I blogged about using my Windows 8 tablet as my main machine for work and device for play. Today I will share my experience in using the device for building a Metro app.

The first application that I ever wrote was 19 years ago for the Timex Sinclair 1000. (I can’t believe that I am that old!) I’ve come a long way now writing for a touch enabled device (but the TS 1000 was about the same size of an iPad.). Keeping with tradition, I will write a simple “Hello World” and see how it goes.

Step 1: Load Visual Studio

Sounds easy, right? Remember this is Windows 8, so we have to tap Visual Studio in the Metro start screen and then wait for it to load in “desktop mode.”  Ok, it was pretty easy. I’m using Visual Studio 11 Express Edition, the one that came with the machine. (I have not downloaded the Ultimate edition yet, I will do so shortly and get back to you.)

Photo1VS

Step 2: Create the Project

When you load Visual Studio, you will notice that there are only Metro project templates. I select Visual C# and the most basic type of project an “Application.” This is a blank container for a Metro application.

Photo2ProjectType

Step 3: Write Some XAML

I could not seem to open the project in Expression Blend 5 Preview, so I had to code the XAML by hand. I inserted a Button and a TextBlock. I’ll do the classic “Hello World” using a tapped event.

<UserControl x:Class="SuperCoolMetroApp.MainPage" ...>    
    <Grid x:Name="LayoutRoot" Background="Green">         
        <Button Name="MyButton" Content="Metro Button" Tapped="Button_Tapped" 
                HorizontalAlignment="Left" VerticalAlignment="Top" 
                Width="166" Margin="338,106,0,0"/>
        <TextBlock Name="MyTextBlock" HorizontalAlignment="Left" 
                   TextWrapping="Wrap" FontSize="20" Text="" 
                   VerticalAlignment="Top" Margin="535,106,0,0" 
                   Height="74" Width="391"/>
    </Grid>    
</UserControl>

Step 4: Write an Event Handler

After fiddling around for a while, I realized I was thinking way too much like a Silverlight/WPF developer and not a Metro developer. I quickly discovered the “Tapped” event and wrote an event handler for it.

//my first C# code for WinRT!
private void Button_Tapped(object sender, Windows.UI.Xaml.Input.TappedEventArgs e)
{
    //Hey, it's a start ;)
    MyTextBlock.Text = "Hello Touch!";
}

As I looked over the new events and properties, I realize the power of .NET. While I was using something familiar (XAML and C#), I was also using something new (a touch based API). The .NET framework abstracted away the WinRT API for me into something I can deal with and understand. Very quickly I was able to come up to speed with the object model for XAML touch enabled controls. (You can also do checks to see if they are touch enabled and provide a classic “click” event for example.) I think people may pass over this point too quickly, we are finally getting the true promise of the .NET framework: we are using the CLR and C# on top of a NEW platform/API for the first time (unless you are a MONO developer.)

Step 5: Running your App

Time to run the app. I hit F5 and took a video for you to enjoy. Notice that I swipe to get back to the desktop mode after I am done using the application. Cool.

That’s it! In just a few easy steps, I became a device/tablet developer. Try that in Objective-C.  Winking smile

posted on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 5:48:45 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Monday, September 19, 2011

Today was my first day back in the office for my job at Telerik and I decided that I would try an experiment. I would use only my Windows 8 tablet that I received at the Build conference last week for both my work and play. I put away my Lenovo laptop (for work) and my iPad (for reading in bed) and decided I would use only the tablet for the next few days.

The tablet came with a Bluetooth keyboard and dock, so I put that together and started to play around.

 IMG_20110919_172548

The first thing that I realized is that the traditional Windows “Start” menu is gone, completely replaced by the Metro UI. Cool. Then I installed the imperative items:

  • Evernote
  • Dropbox and Live Mesh
  • Live Writer
  • Skype

I had to install them in “Desktop” mode and they showed up in the Metro Start menu. Cool.

My day started with doing regular emails back to the Telerik offices around the world, so I did that through Gmail and Outlook Web Access in Internet Explorer 10 in the Metro mode. Quickly I realized that I don’t need a mouse, but have a USB mouse nearby very handy.

Telerik’s CEO popped up on Skype to talk for an hour about Build and other things. Worked just great, I forgot I was on a prototype machine. Skype only worked in Windows Desktop mode though. It would be great when Skype is a “live tile” and gives me notifications and messages.

I then went into Visual Studio 11 Express that came included with the machine. Built a few simple Metro applications with XAML and C# and .NET 4.5. I felt like I was building Silverlight or WPF applications, it was pretty straightforward. (More on this in the next blog post.) I tried to share a screen shot of the application on Facebook via Socialite (the built in Facebook app for Metro), however, there was a bug there.

After a few more hours of editing documents, emailing and skyping, I called it a day for work and went out for some dinner. I used the device in “slate” mode and dealt with it touch only and no keyboard/doc. I was able to consume most of the content I like to consume (Facebook, Twitter, hacker news, TED videos, RSS newsfeeds, etc) while eating as if it was an iPad. Obviously there are no apps available yet so I had to do this all via the browser. To be honest, the experience was just fine. (I am not a heavy iPad user, if you play a lot of games, etc, on your iPad, you will miss them until Microsoft opens the App Store.)

I played some Sudoku with my Twitter feed docked on the side, great for my ADD! Smile 

IMG_20110919_174330

The key thing that I realized after one full day with Windows 8 is that the new Metro UI is the main experience. Even if you are going to use Windows 8 in an enterprise with just the “Desktop” mode, you will interact with the Metro UI as your “Start” button and application launcher (I played around with a mouse and keyboard for a few hours and the Metro UI worked fine with a mouse and keyboard). I am thinking about in the future if you are using a Win8 PC at work and you also have an ARM based Metro-only Win8 tablet/pad at home. The UI and experience are exactly the same for most of your operations. That is pretty compelling.

Lastly I wrote this blog using Windows Live Writer. Time to call it a day. Tomorrow I will post my experience using the Visual Studio 11 Express edition.

posted on Monday, September 19, 2011 5:56:42 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Microsoft developer ecosystem has been alive with buzz about Windows 8 all week at the Build conference. What everyone is talking about is the new Metro user experience and interface and the new WinRT API that supports it.

I was one of the lucky ones who got a ticket to Build before it sold out and received the developer prototype hardware tablet running the early preview of Windows 8 (I’ve never had prototype hardware before!) After playing with it for a few days, I can say that while the app store is not open yet and it is obvious  that the software is pre-alpha (there is no Metro mail client for example) running on prototype hardware, I can tell you that the new Metro UI experience is awesome. The iPad will have true competition.

While the iPad ushered in this form factor and paradigm, with Windows 8 Metro, Microsoft has taken it to a new level.  Windows 8 Metro uses the same immersive app concept pioneered by the iPad, however, the desktop is alive with data via “live tiles.” Instead of boring icons like the iPad, Metro gives you a truly interactive experience. The live tiles are live updates from the apps, everything from RSS feeds and Twiter to stocks and weather. You have full control over this experience and can customize the notifications or even turn them off (but not sure why you would want to do this.)

As I have played with Windows 8 all week, I never found myself going to “Desktop” mode on the tablet. As I interacted with the Metro tiles, I found myself doing all of the “tablet” things I normally do on my iPad. When I had to “work” (like write long emails and blog posts), I found myself using my laptop.

Windows 8 gives you the ability to have the “best of both worlds” where you can use the Metro style UI and then when you need to, dock your tablet into a station and use it in “desktop” mode using traditional Windows with a mouse and keyboard. This is a great feature that will undoubtedly be used by millions of people.

That said, Microsoft needs to OEM a version of Windows 8 to tablet hardware developers that will only run in Metro mode. While I fully expect that my next laptop will have a touch screen and I will interact with Windows 8 Metro mode often on it, my experience on the laptop will mostly be running in traditional desktop mode with a mouse and keyboard (try writing this blog post on a tablet today). At the same time, I would also want a (cheaper) Windows 8 tablet where I only interact with the Metro UI. Just like how I have a laptop PC and tablet iPad today, I use each in different scenarios. In short, laptop for work, tablet for play.

When people buy a tablet like the iPad, they want the immersive experience and that experience only. I have argued before that people don’t want a tablet that is a laptop replacement, they want both devices. When using a tablet, I don’t need to go out to the desktop mode and use Outlook, I just want to use the touch UI and a lightweight app for my mail. When using my laptop, I don’t want the constraints of a tablet. They are different devices that have different uses.

With a Metro-only SKU of Windows, the tablet vendors can build truly awesome experiences that don’t have any of traditional Windows running. They can build lower power devices that run on ARM and hit the $500 or below price point. It will be clear that this is a “tablet” and not a PC. People love the experience of the iPad, they like how they are constrained and can’t do the things they do on their PCs. These constraints force the consumer to interact with the iPad differently, and that has led to its success. If Windows removes those constraints, allowing the tablet users to shell out to Windows, then it will most likely confuse the customer and ultimately fail. Just like all of the Android tablets trying to add “laptop” features and have failed so far.

I asked a Microsoft executive point blank yesterday if they were going to have a tablet Metro-only SKU of Windows. While he said my question was “insightful”, he said Microsoft has made no SKU decisions at this time. At least he did not say no. Winking smile

posted on Thursday, September 15, 2011 12:59:40 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [3] Trackback
# Thursday, September 08, 2011

I have argued before that the Android tablet market is a mess and can’t compete with the iPad. I said that the Android manufacturers were developing a tabletized laptop while Apple was developing an “experience” centered around their integrated services.  I made the claim that only Amazon can really take on the iPad with its integrated experience and books, music, video service as well as its own AppStore. Last week it was leaked that Amazon is nearly done with a 7 inch Kindle branded Android tablet. It should sell for about $249 and hit the markets in October or November.

While it is true that Amazon will be taking on the iPad and giving the iPad its first real competition, the real game-changer is for the Android tablet market. Analysts are already saying Amazon will sell 5 million units-this year. (That means in 2 months!) Except for maybe the Galaxy Tab (before Apple sued Samsung due to patents), not a single Android tablet was able to penetrate the market.  If they could not stand a chance against the iPad, they will stand absolutely no chance against both the iPad and Kindle-pad.

Another loser in all of this is Google. Since Android is Open Source, Amazon took a pre 2.2 version of Android, forked it and customized it for its own needs-without any interaction from Google. No Google apps, no Goolge Marketplace, all Amazon branding and Amazon services. So the best selling Android tablet will have nothing to do with Google!

posted on Thursday, September 08, 2011 5:49:51 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Back in January, I argued that AppStores are not necessary as mobile economics mature and start to mimic web economics. Why do I need to download Skype from the AppStore when I can just go to Skype.com and do the same?

appstore

Apple changed the rules and suddenly the AppStore looks like it may die a toddler. Back in February, new rules for advertising revenue and media content were implemented by Apple. If your app is in the app store and you generate revenue from a new customer, you have to give Apple 30% of the revenue of everything you sell.  As per Steve Jobs:

"Our philosophy is simple -- when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30% share... When the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100% and Apple earns nothing."

Talk about a finders fee! Take the Kindle for example. If a new customer downloads the Kindle on the iPad and buys a book for $10, Apples gets $3 from Amazon, killing its margins. The same for the New York Times, Economist, Financial Times, and other magazines. What particularly vexed those publications is that Apple would tell the publisher absolutely nothing about the subscriber (Apple owns that data!), reducing any ability to personalize marketing to their own subscribers!

Content Producers Strike Back

The content producers started to fight back. Amazon was the first to strike with its web based Kindle Cloud Reader. It is a web application that uses web standards (HTML5) to allow users to read (online or offline!) their books. You can install a link on your iPad home screen making it look like an app, but it is not. It is just a web site and you completely bypass the AppStore, allowing Amazon to keep 100% of the revenue and customer data.

Another popular content producer struck an even deeper blow to the AppStore. The Financial Times, the winner of the Apple Design Award in 2010, has done the same as Amazon and released a cloud based version of their popular iPad app. Then in a move that can only be described as insurrection, the Financial Times has pulled its (award winning!) iPad and iPhone apps altogether from the AppStore!

With such moves by industry leaders Amazon and the Financial Times, the floodgates are open for others to follow. Apple can’t block the web in its devices, so it is the end of the AppStore as we know it. Even if Apple comes back and says, “ok ok, we will only take 3%, not 30%”, why would Amazon give Apple 3% when it can keep 100% for itself? Tasting freedom, publishers will never come back.

It was nice knowing you AppStore. RIP.

posted on Tuesday, September 06, 2011 5:51:05 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [7] Trackback
# Thursday, September 01, 2011

If you and I were at a local Starbucks drinking coffee and plotted a criminal act (say robbing a bank), would Starbucks be liable? Is Starbucks a co-conspirator since they provided a platform for us to plan our illegal act? In short, no.

If you and I email back and fourth about that same criminal activity, is GMail/your ISP liable? In short, no.

If we do rob the bank and FexEx someone the contraband, is FedEx liable? In short, no.

If I illegally download MP3 music and upload it to Amazon Cloud Storage, Microsoft Skydrive, Dropbox, or some other similar service, are they liable? A judge last week said no.

While this seems like a small thing, it is huge. By providing the Cloud providers legal immunity, the same immunity terrestrial providers enjoy, the legal system has validated the business model of the entire cloud computing industry and guarantees an entire industry will not suffer legal limbo.  It is still illegal to download unlicensed content, however, the liability is on the person doing the downloading, not the company providing the service. (The person would also be in violation of the terms of service as well.)

This allows the Internet Economy to work. Google is not liable for someone searching for illegal things, Microsoft is not liable for someone using Excel to plan something illegal, Dropbox is not liable for what it stores, and Telerik is not liable for someone using our software for something illegal.

Score one for the lawyers today.

posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 3:38:18 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback