Windows Store App Development Series : Part 1 – Introduction

Hello,

Welcome to Windows Store App Development series.

In the first article of the series, I will explain

  1. Windows 8 Platform
  2. Windows Store App
  3. Windows Store App Development Environment
  4. Windows Store App Developer License

Windows 8 Platform

Microsoft recently announced Windows 8 operating system, which is a common operating system for traditional desktops, laptops, tablets and home theater PCs. The new operating system platform provides Microsoft technology developers an opportunity to develop, host and sell Windows Store apps. This platform is significantly different than earlier versions of Windows operating systems. To highlight a few -

  1. Windows 8 introduces a new architecture called Windows Runtime [WinRT] to create a new type of application formerly known as Metro style apps / Modern apps and now Windows Store Apps.
  2. Windows 8 introduces a new live tile based start-up screen as opposed to ‘start menu’ provided by earlier version of Windows. Each tile in Windows 8 start-up screen represents an app.
  3. Windows 8 introduces an application repository called as Windows Store using which users can download and install new Windows Store apps.
  4. Cloud support of Windows 8 makes it possible to easily share the data / application between different Windows 8 devices.
  5. Windows 8 helps developer to create Windows Store Apps as well as traditional desktop apps using variety of languages like C# or Visual Basic with XAML, C++ with XAML or HTML with JavaScript

Below diagrams shows Windows 8 architecture. Please note that the core Windows Kernel Services are still shared between Windows Store Apps and Desktop Apps. However If you want to create a Windows Store apps, you need to use new WinRT APIs which are different than Win32 APIs which are normally used to create a Desktop App.

Windows 8 Architecture

Windows 8 Architecture

Below is the new Windows 8 start-up screen. As I mentioned earlier, each tile in below screen represents an app.

Windows 8 Start-up Screen

Windows 8 Start-up Screen

Windows Store App

A Windows Store app is a new type of app that is sold in the Windows Store and runs on Windows 8 devices. They install easily and uninstall cleanly. They run in a single window that fills the entire screen by default. Unlike traditional desktop apps, a Windows Store app supports different layouts like full view, snapped view, landscape and portrait. They automatically work with a variety of input sources, including touch, pen, mouse, and keyboard. Instead of static icons, they use live tiles that can display notifications.

As shown in Windows 8 architecture diagram above, you can write Windows Store apps in a variety of languages, such as C# or Visual Basic with XAML, C++ with XAML or DirectX, and JavaScript with HTML/CSS. Different technology options helps developer to develop an app in the language of their choice.

Windows Store App Development Environment

  1. Windows 8 – Windows Store app development is supported only on Windows 8, so you need to install Windows 8 operating system to start building Windows Store apps. You can compare different version of Windows 8 online at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows/compare and buy operating system version suitable to you. If you’re not willing / ready to buy a full Windows 8 version ,then you can try Windows 8 Enterprise 90-day evaluation version which is available at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-US/evalcenter/jj554510.aspx.
  2. Visual Studio 2012 Express for Windows 8 – Visual Studio 2012 Express provides you an integrated development environment [IDE] to build Windows Store app quickly. You can download required version of Visual Studio and SDK from http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/apps/br229516.aspx.

Windows Store App Developer License

Once you install Windows 8 and Visual Studio 2012, you must acquire a developer license to develop, build, test, install, evaluate a Windows Store App on your local machine, before you pass it to Microsoft Windows Store team for test and certification. These developer licenses are free [you can get as many as you need!] and provided on a per-machine basis for a fixed amount of time. After the developer license expires on your local machine, you wont be able to run uncertified apps, but you can continue to run desktop apps.

When you run Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 on your local machine for the first time, you are prompted to obtain a developer license. Read the license terms, and then click I Agree. In the User Account Control (UAC) dialog box, click Yes to continue.

After you install a license on a local machine, you won’t be prompted again on that machine unless the license expires (or you remove it) and you try to run an uncertified Windows Store app or create a project. You can run uncertified Windows Store apps on your local machine by pressing the F5 key in Microsoft Visual Studio or Blend for Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 for Windows 8.

You can renew your developer license any time you are using the Visual Studio IDE. If you are using Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows 8, click Store > Acquire Developer License. If you are using a non-Express version of Visual Studio 2012, click Project> Store > Acquire Developer License.

Summary

In this article, I explained new Windows 8 architecture and layout of start-up screen in short along with different technology options available to develop these apps. And finally the process to get a developer license.

In the next article, I will try to reach you with various Visual Studio 2012 project templates available to build Windows Store Apps.

Thanks.

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