The Missing Topics
- Silverlight and WPF?
It's clear after today that Metro style XAML apps are Microsoft's vision of the future, but what does that mean for the future of Silverlight and WPF? Of course, SL and WPF as we know them now will continue to run in Windows 8, but will they continue to evolve? Microsoft is risking another WinForms-like messaging challenge by choosing to mostly ignore Silverlight/WPF rather than address them head-on.
- Xbox & Phone
One of the more extreme things rumored to make an appearance at BUILD was Xbox integration with with the new Windows Runtime. Or more broadly, a story that tied Windows desktop, tablet, phone, and Xbox together with one model. Unfortunately, both Phone and Xbox are no-shows so far, so it's all PC and tablets with Win8 right now.
- Shipping Timeline
While not entirely unaddressed, the "there is no target date" for shipping Windows 8 message is a bit unsettling, too. Heading-in to BUILD, there was a lingering rumor that Windows 8 would be near or at beta now, with a possible goal of shipping Windows 8 tablets for this holiday season (or very shortly there after). Instead, with a pre-beta Developer Preview delivered, we're left to assume Windows 8 many not be fully ready for RTM until mid- to late-2012. So while everything being talked about this week is cool, it's almost a year away from GA. Which is a bummer, especially as other tablets march on.
- Expression Web
One of the more interesting tooling demos in the keynote was a new version of Expression Blend that targets HTML and CSS design. What wasn't mentioned is how this expanded Blend focus impacts the existing "web product" in the Expression suite (Expression Web). Is Expression Web replaced by the new Blend? Pushed in to a smaller corner for the remaining Front Page-like dev fans? Mums the word for now.
- Office Apps for WinRT
Given how important Office is to Windows (it's the 2nd major financial pillar at Microsoft), its absence, even as a simple preview, is also noticeably missing at BUILD. I guess the Win8 "cone of silence" extended fully to the Office team and they haven't had a chance to build Office versions for Win8 yet. Office will most definitely find its way to WinRT (Sinofsky is an Office alum, after tall), but its absence this week only signals a longer road to RTM ahead. Can you really ship Win8 without Metro Office apps?
- Plug-ins in Immersive IE
We know HTML5 is a first class citizen in Win8, but how does Silverlight carryover to the new Metro version of Internet Explorer? Early demos of immersive suggests it doesn't. In fact, no plug-ins work in the immersive IE. Plug-ins do work in the "classic" view IE9/10, but if you thought you could run a Silverlight app in Metro-mode via the browser, think again. No Flash. No Silverlight.
- Older Versions of Windows
What older versions of Windows? If you are at BUILD, apparently there are no older versions of Windows. Everything related to WinRT and Metro are Windows 8 only. There will be no backport of the new runtime for Windows 7. It makes sense, but does that signal a future of multiple app implementations if you want to support Windows 8 + Windows 7 (and older) + other platforms?
- Steve Ballmer
Quick: Your company is about to introduce a "bold" new "reimagination" of the your flagship product. Who do you send to introduce this product to the world? Of course you send the directly responsible VP, but don't you also send your CEO to make an appearance? Under any other circumstance perhaps Balmer's absence at BUILD is a non-issue. But given the long running rumor of Sinofsky as CEO-in-waiting, no Balmer makes this feel even more like the Sinofsky Show.