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Thread: What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?

  1. #1

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    What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?

    Or what the rest of us call... The windows 8 app style metro things.

    Do you think they will become the dominant platform for windows programs? Or will people still stick to Win32 apps?

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    Re: What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?

    The basic problem is that they are designed for mobile. That means a different architecture from a normal Windows Subsystem application.

    Only a narrow set of proprietary and unpalatable tools support them natively and that different architecture imposes limitations. Those limitations are mainly about conserving resources and making them more secure, but since Microsoft screwed up and lost the mobile computing market it once owned it seems like day by day they tweak the model to remove those limitations.

    I doubt they'll go anywhere. Microsoft has invested too much in the blind alley to give up on it easily. But adoption rates are abysmal so eventually it will die. The only question is whether it dies before Windows does or dies with Windows.

    The entire premise they are based on is turning PCs into giant phones for the megamasses. I.e. selling PCs to people with no need for a PC. If you need a PC to do a job then they are the wrong paradigm. This is why they fail: people who don't need a PC can now use a phone or tablet.

    If some killer game console comes along that eliminates another mindless-masses market. At that point PCs will revert to market share like they had back in the 1990s. Goofy things like UWP will go away, PCs might get more expensive again as economies of scale collapse and venture capital life-support dries up. Will Windows still be a thing then?

    Hard to guess. But it may be telling that Microsoft appears to be working as hard as they can to turn Azure into a Linux based service. They are even working very hard to move SQL Server over to Linux.

    It sounds like a world without Windows has gone beyond the planning stages at Microsoft. They may not like it, but their business model requires constant market expansion so Windows will get the old "heave ho." The only hope left is to turn phones and tablets into little more than smart terminals to "mainframe" centralized resources in the Azure cloud.

  3. #3
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    Re: What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?

    I think as an application platform it's very interesting and has good ideas. It's better in almost every way than Windows Forms and should be the default platform for new applications. But I think it faces insurmountable challenges and will never be adopted.

    The original Windows Forms was GDI, and it hit the scene with Windows 3.1. Before GDI, every "GUI" application was written in terms of using ASCII art to "draw". You could use a mouse in these applications, but for the most part people used keyboard shortcuts because on a 24x80 screen it's just not hard to use the arrow keys to get where you want to go. GDI was a game changer, and part of the reason Office is so dominant today is because every Office competitor felt like they could ignore GDI. By the time they realized their mistake, they were years behind and couldn't release fast enough to catch up.

    Part of the reason GDI caught on so fast was the power of graphics. Learning that the "B" button with a bold letter B meant "make this text bold" was a lot faster and intuitive than memorizing keyboard shortcuts. Being able to deal with dialogs and wizards instead of learning a special programming language for a word processor meant people could produce documents with hours of training, not weeks. Being free of the 24x80 console screen meant being able to fit dozens of lines on screen and quickly moving through the documents. The productivity increase in moving from DOS to Win 3.1 could be clearly seen.

    UWP is not a game changer in that aspect. It doesn't transform the user experience in such a fundamental way that GDI applications feel "wrong" or "clunky". It does make them more friendly for tablets, but tablets and mobiles are a "reduced" experience compared to huge PC monitors and a mouse/keyboard. For some applications, like web browsers and Netflix, that doesn't really matter, and UWP is "as good as" Windows Forms. For other applications, like Excel or Visual Studio, even a "good" tablet experience is bad compared to just doing the work on a PC.

    I think in 2007, Windows developers might have been excited about UWP if there was some Windows answer to the iPad. But we didn't really get the MS answer to the iPad until maybe 2012. By then, if someone was excited about tablets, they'd already moved to a platform that supported tablets. By then, people who needed/wanted mobile devices had already left Windows.

    So UWP is the framework we needed about 10 years ago, only now that it's arrived 10 years too late we've already found solutions that work without it. If you need a Mac/Linux/iOS/Android/Windows app, you're probably using Cordova or Electron or any number of other HTML/JS platforms. If you are writing mobile apps, you're already used to using Java/Obj-C/Swift. UWP and Xamarin are solving a problem that most people already considered solved.

    Worse, UWP is only Windows-focused. If you want to write a Windows app, there's already Windows Forms and no one's complaining that it's inadequate for the things that "I want a Windows app" usually means.

    That means no one's really excited about UWP, because it's not solving anything anyone described as a "problem" since about 2011.

    For UWP to catch on, it needs to do these things:
    • It must be free and deployable outside the Windows Store. (This will never happen.)
    • It must create applications that use .NET Standard and run on Mac/Linux/iOS/Android with GUI. (Xamarin provides this, but it's expensive.)
    • It must be easier to learn and faster to deploy than its competitors. (It's not.)

    What might work is if MS pulls a VB6 and makes a ton of useful "application wizards" for UWP apps. That will still only be useful if they cut the price of Xamarin from "$500 per seat" to "free". In general, to bosses it looks a lot cheaper to tell a random dev "you're going to have to learn Cordova" than it does to say, "I'm going to buy you Xamarin, and you have to learn it".

    In short: UWP vs. what people are using is a very Pepsi vs. Coke situation, but what MS needs it to be is "car vs. horse".
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    Re: What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?

    Just another thing I forgot to mention, on really bad processors, the UWP is way too slow. I upgraded from Windows 8 to 10 and believe that Microsoft might add a bit too much things to the launch of UWP apps. And now they're making the "default apps" list so slow to open and all the other UWP/metro things slow to open, and remember most of these are JUST A MENU. I also noticed that, for example, if I open audio with Groove/Xbox/something music (microsoft can u just stick with a name pls thx), the audio often plays before the app is even fully loaded.

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    Re: What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?

    I would be really interested to know which development tool people would use, as a replacement for WinForms. Posts seen on other forums actively suggest WPF, Xamarin etc, with comments like 'Winforms is dead, move away from it now!'. My reason for asking is simply this, I use VB and VS2017 which I am very happy with, and have a number of commercial windows applications installed at client sites. I would consider rewriting these, if the new tools are going to be adopted by the development world and not just the current flavour of the day. I am an old geezer and have seen many things come and go over the years and I have learnt that change just for change sake is not a reason to change. I am sure there are many developers who will have the same concerns/confusions regards the 'next' step.

    Therefore, from your experience/views etc. what do you think will replace WinForms? if anything.

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    Re: What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?

    Nothing will totally replace it until computers as we know them are totally replaced. There have been several candidates held up as possible replacements, and none have done so, often for the reasons Sitten talked about. WinForms is good enough for most situations. WPF does have some real appeal, especially when it comes to dealing with DPI issues, but it's harder to learn, and there just isn't all that much incentive out there when WinForms is so established. Xamarin has some growing pains before it can be considered a real player, and it will end up with some of the same issues as WPF, as far as learning goes. Both use a XAML type of language. That's not hard to learn, just a bit different.

    Another candidate is Cordova, which is just HTML/JS, and has all the issues that goes along with that, such as a bewildering array of frameworks and tools. Having lots of options isn't exactly a drawback, but what it means is that Cordova isn't a thing the way WinForms is. If you know WinForms and VB, then you can look at any WinForms project written in VB and it will all be there. There may be libraries added in, but that's about it. With Cordova...are you using JQuery? Bootstrap (which requires JQuery, but it a layer on top)? Dojo? Ionic and Angular? and so on. For each one there are a few differences you'll have to understand, and each one could be seen as a thing more like WinForms, so Cordova (which makes use of any of those), isn't even the same type of a thing as WinForms.

    Then there's the platforms. WinForms will live as long as Windows lives. But there's Android, Linux, and Mac. Each was thought to be a likely replacement at some point in its life, yet none have gathered more than a small share of the market. There's also the different platforms, where other OS have grabbed pretty nearly ALL the share, but they all have drawbacks, as well. There IS room for a new OS that has some of the features that brought people to Windows, such as the development environment. It just isn't clear whether such a thing is even likely.

    So, there is no one, clear, replacement for WinForms, nor is it clear that WinForms will be replaced anytime soon. What is abundantly clear is that there are LOADS of prophets out there foretelling the future. If you have enough prophets, then at least one of them is likely to guess correctly.
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    Re: What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?

    Quote Originally Posted by bmwpete View Post
    Therefore, from your experience/views etc. what do you think will replace WinForms? if anything.
    I was a PDP-11 and VAX-11 programmer for 20 years. Around 2000 I moved to VB6 and MS SQL - migrating all my clients...

    Half a dozen years ago I moved to a browser based replacement to my VB6 app.

    I use JavaScript - that's the front end coding language. I use VB.Net and MS SQL server as the backend running on a web server. AJAX for talking back and forth.

    As Shaggy mentioned it makes sense to use a JS library. You certainly do not need one - it's just that they all are designed to make manipulation of the "document" easier. They also alleviate some of the cross browser issues you might encounter.

    The reason you manipulate the window in the browser is because AJAX allows you to stay in the browser and sit on a single page. That page "grows" and "redraws" whatever parts are needed for the user to have their experience.

    By using a browser to host your application you remove all "dependencies" on the user machine - that is a real plus, imo.

    Browsers are designed for visual display - imo, easily exceeding what WPF can do.

    If you are interested in how to create a rich internet application - and use something like jQuery to make that go fast - check out this book.

    https://www.manning.com/books/jquery...-third-edition

    Reading this book and working through the examples will have you forgetting WinForms and embracing RIA!

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    Re: What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?

    Well if you want to go that route there are also things like:

    https://electron.atom.io/

    Then you are not tethered to a server, can work right on the PC as a PC instead of as a terminal, don't have to worry about the lack of portability inherent in web applications, etc. Visual Studio Code was even built on that technology.

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    Hyperactive Member 2kaud's Avatar
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    Re: What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?

    I was a PDP-11 and VAX-11 programmer
    Oh happy days!
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    Re: What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?

    I have a hard time stifling laughter when VAX folks try to claim they were mainframes. They were not. Some of them were pretty large minicomputers, but minicomputers they were.

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    MS SQL Powerposter szlamany's Avatar
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    Re: What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?

    Who used the term mainframe? I know they were minicomputers - I've owned them myself!

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    Re: What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?

    My father was an engineer for Digital Equipment. I'll have to ask him what term he used. I certainly can't remember. I believe the company billed itself as "The number 2 mainframe manufacturer." That was behind IBM, but if that was their term, then I think they'd call them mainframes. Not sure about that, though.
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    New Member Grant Swinger's Avatar
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    Re: What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?

    I used to work for DEC myself. Techs would joke about the VAX as being a PDP-11 accessory because it had a PDP-11 inside it connected to the console. To boot the VAX you had to first boot the PDP-11 and then use it load the VAX microcode from an eight inch floppy disk. Then you could start the VAX. Sales people always referred to the VAX as a "super-mini" computer. It was the DECSYSTEM-10 / DECSYSTEM-20 machines that were regarded as mainframes.

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    Re: What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?

    I only saw one of those big DECSYSTEM-10 like machines once - at the Ministry of Education in Toronto. Back in my salad days...

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    Re: What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?

    I used to program a DECSYSTEM-20 back in the late 1970's. Great system. Ah those were the days...
    All advice is offered in good faith only. You are ultimately responsible for the effects of your programs and the integrity of the machines they run on. Anything I post, code snippets, advice, etc is licensed as Public Domain https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

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