I’ve been playing with Metro off and on for a few months now, my frustration levels mounting everything I try to do something I already know how to do. Most of this I’ve come to realize is because of Microsoft’s attempt to morph existing languages and API’s into the walled-garden of WinRT. They went and bastardized the languages that Visual Studio supports to enable use of reference counted resources and forced nearly any API call to be choked through a dispatch-callback mechanism and try to hide it all through syntactic sugar.
Granted, you don’t have to do it the way they show in the examples, but that presupposes you know what’s going on under the hood. And the current way they have it set up discurages most programmers from ever discovering there’s a different and potentially more productive way of doing something.
Normally I get access (as an MSDN member) to the RTM (i.e. finished version) of all Microsoft OS versions. This is the way that most devs. get access to the OS’s, tools, etc. For developers this is important since this is how you typically make those last minute tests on your software to make sure it’ll work with the retail version when it’s released.
With Win 8/Metro apps this is particularly hard because of the numerous restrictions about deploying Metro apps (you have to build it on 8.1 if it’s to get deployed to 8.1, you can’t build on 8.0 for 8.1 unless it’s not using anything new), putting things in the store (the public 8.0 store doesn’t work with the 8.1 OS till they turn it on).
Traditionally, the company has made new OSs available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers, as well as volume license customers. With all the changes in the new OS, particularly given the track record of MS changing the interfaces in the run up to the RTM of Win 8.0 (where they did give early access), it seems important to assure devs that their apps will work on the day Win 8.1 is actually released. It’s bewildering that they’d suddenly restrict access like this – I can only suspect they are trying to limit criticisms of 8.1 prior to it’s release. But, like other decisions the company has made in recent years, it doesn’t seem to have been well thought out.
Windows 8.1 has an October 18 retail launch.
Update: Sept 9 – Microsoft has relented under a lot of criticism; Windows 8.1 will be made available on MSDN and TechNet, and the company is also launching a Release Candidate of Visual Studio 2013 for developers. Thank you!
Many folks have been wondering where the DirectX SDK (the developers package for writing DX applications) update has been. Microsoft had been churning them out like clockwork but – pfffft- nothing for over a year. With the advent of hardware accelerated UI elements (DWM – the Desktop Window Manager) and the optimized software rasterizer (Microsoft’s WARP), it’s pretty obvious that MS has realized that utilizing hardware acceleration (even if it’s a software fallback) of the entire desktop is imperative.
This was posted under “Where is the DirectX SDK?” on the MSDN web site, along with the following quote;
Starting with Windows 8 Consumer Preview, the DirectX SDK is included as part of the Windows SDK.
We originally created the DirectX SDK as a high-performance platform for game development on top of Windows. As DirectX technologies matured, they became relevant to a broader range of applications. Today, ubiquity of Direct3D hardware in computers drives even traditional desktop applications to use graphics hardware acceleration. In parallel, DirectX technologies are more integrated with Windows. DirectX is today a fundamental part of Windows.
Because the Windows SDK is the primary developer SDK for Windows, we now ship DirectX as part of the Windows SDK. You can now use the Windows SDK to build great games for Windows.
So starting with Win8 we’re not going to see a lot of innovation in the graphics API anymore, especially if if only get major updates with a new operation system. Of course there’ll be service packs, but it’s rare for a service pack to modify an API beyond minor tweaks. I suspect that with the folding in of DirectX into the operating system innovation will slow as the graphics system becomes a resource managed by the operating system, rather than just a host for a graphics program.