What do you think about the Universal Windows Platform?-VBForums
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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?

  2. #2
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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".
    Nothing I post is production-ready. It is provided as-is, use it at your own risk.

  4. #4

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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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