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  1. #1
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    Microsoft touts Universal apps, once again




    TOP STORY

    Microsoft touts Universal apps, once again


    By Woody Leonhard

    Microsoft has spent a great deal of time and money trying to convince developers and customers that "Universal" (formerly "Modern," formerly "Metro") apps will drive the future of Windows.

    This is the third time we've heard variants of the same spiel, but it (finally!) just might work.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/microsoft-touts-universal-apps-once-again (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
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    I do not know anyone with a Windows phone or windows tablet. I know lots people with iphones, ipads or android tablets or phones. The problem for Microsoft is its coming from behind, and why do we need another phone tablet ecosystem anyway? I say there is only space for 2 ecosystems.

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    Universal apps is a bad concept.

    The problem with "universal" apps is that it's a one size fits all paradigm. Imagine outfitting your private 747 jet with the same controls as your car. It's ludicrous to believe there's exactly one "universal" methodology can drive/fly/sail all vehicle types.

    In the case of the devices used for consumers/business, these universal apps will have to all be dumbed down to the most trivial device. The example is Win8 metro apps all insisting on running full screen. That works on a small screen, such as a tablet or a phone. It just doesn't work on a 30 inch monitor.

    The reason that these apps operate the way that they do is that they have to support a very crude pointing device, namely the human finger. That particular "pointer" device needs a lot of pixel space on the screen so that the system doesn't pick the wrong adjacent button. Likely, no screen designed for touch would ever offer more than one touch point per square inch. Ouch, that's a huge footprint compared to what a mouse can point to.

    If the universal API allowed the developer to specify how dense the "touchpoints" should appear on the screen, then perhaps we may have something workable. Then the developers would soon end up designing screens that could be touched or clicked, depending on the user's preferences and his system's capabilities. But that means the layouts of touch screens will diverge from the clickable screens.

    In Windows 10, we have fully re-sizeable universal apps. They are a joke! When you ask for a less than full screen display, the app's window immediately acquires horizontal and vertical scroll bars. You cannot view the whole screen. Many of these apps don't even "fold" text lines at the window boundary.

    I say that there are TWO operating environments that have to be designed. The touch and the click.

    Steve Harrold
    sharrold@Hotmail.com

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    My wife and I were very disappointed when we updated both our laptops from Windows 8 to 8.1 and numerous Metro Apps (not all) immediately crashed after opening. The two that we were heavily using (Kindle and Magic Puzzles were no longer usable. After weeks of Microsoft's Support Desk remotely logging in to debug, refresh, etc. etc. - no fix. Hopefully the "Universal Apps" will resolve these issues.

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    Some observations for Windows 'Universal'

    I have watched this debate about Windows, its app store, and its user interface for some time now, and I have a few observations.

    First, I see many complaints from users who can't get this app or this feature to work correctly on their Windows 8/8.1 computer. Yet I seem to have NO problems getting such apps or features to run on my computers. I have a Nokia 1520 Windows 8.1 phone, a Lenovo Yoga 11 Windows RT ultrabook, and two desktop machines running Windows 8.1 at home. I have gone through all the updates and upgrade cycles on these devices, again without any problems. And I've installed many different apps/programs on these computers/devices, again without problems. I can't help but think that many users are experiencing problems that have to do with factors that are NOT related to the Windows OS of their device. What their problem may be, I can't say, but for me to have experience for so long on so many devices and NOT suffer the issues mentioned is, for me, an indication that maybe the blame is being placed on the wrong source.

    Second, I hear more and more about how some companies are abandoning their apps on the Windows app store, either for Windows computers or Windows phones. To my mind, everyone needs to step back and ask themselves if having a standalone app for computers/tablets/phones, apart from the standard web site presence you have, is really even necessary. While is it true that Bank of America and Chase have pulled their Windows apps, Wells Fargo and Citibank are still active. In any event, I would love to see the usage figures of ANY of the banking apps, especially on mobile devices. I suspect they are very low and will remain so. I contend that most users find it inconvenient to use their bank's app, especially if they have strong passwords they have to type in on virtual keyboards. The bank's website will ALWAYS be the more convenient place to access online, especially if one uses password manager software, such as the Roboform I use heavily. But the real issue is: What does a standalone app do for me that a well-designed web site does not.

    Third, although Apple and Google's Android have a major share of the tablet and smartphone market, Windows still reigns supreme in the laptop and desktop world, especially in the corporate environments, where neither Google nor Apple have played, and where neither has the management tools the system administrators need (and Microsoft has had for years) to manage devices and computers. With 90+% of the world's laptops and desktops still running Windows, the market for Windows developers is still large. And a common development environment for creating applications that can run on any Windows-based device is MAJOR. I don't agree with one of the other posters who seemed to think that a developer would have to try to make every application look and run exactly the same on every device. That's not what happens now with web developers, who make their mobile-targeted sites look and act differently from their tablet-targeted apps or desktop/laptop-based applications. Although I haven't tried any of the new developer tools Microsoft is making available for Windows 10, I am CERTAIN they will provide enormous amounts of guidance and examples of how to fashion apps that adapt on the fly to work best with the device that runs them.

    This should be an exciting time for Windows developers. Let the games begin...
    Last edited by DrTechnical; 2015-03-19 at 16:57.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom# View Post
    I do not know anyone with a Windows phone or windows tablet. I know lots people with iphones, ipads or android tablets or phones. The problem for Microsoft is its coming from behind, and why do we need another phone tablet ecosystem anyway? I say there is only space for 2 ecosystems.
    I am on my 3rd Windows Phone and many people I know and everyone on my company uses Windows Phones. I don't want to pay Apple's exorbitant prices, I generally don't like their software - their Windows apps are horrible- and I don't like Android (I have a Lenovo tablet). There is space for a 3rd ecosystem and the universal apps will contribute strongly towards that goal.

    My Windows Phone UI is amazing and neither Apple's or Android even come close, in my opinion.

    Please remember, the world is not limited to the US and the iPhone dominance of the US market is really not replicated elsewhere.
    Rui
    -------
    R4

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    Thumbs down Down with Windows Universal apps

    Once again, Windows is missing the mark here. Why was windows developed? TO ALLOW USERS TO OPEN MORE THAN ONE PROGRAM OR APP ON THEIR DESKTOP AND ALLOW USERS TO JUMP BETWEEN THEM AND ACCESS THEM IN A MULTITASKING MODE.
    The whole beauty of the Windows operating system was to let users put more than 1 open WINDOW on their desktop, and share information between them. These "Universal" Apps do nothing of the sort. It is hard if not impossible to copy & paste from one app to another, or even share information with a desktop app. What happens when you go into Microsoft's recipes and you click a link to another recipe? You are unceremoneously dumped into your DESKTOP default browser. How can you use the calculator to add a bunch of figures from an email or a Microsoft Office Doc? ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE. You can't see the calculator and the doc or email at the same time, so you have to print the page out to use the calculator, or laboriously jump back & forth between full screen calculator, and your doc. So you have to download a 3rd party calculator instead of using Microsoft's.
    All because MS is trying to become ubiquitous across platforms into phones & tablets. And FORGETTING THE LONGTIME WINDOWS USERS THAT HAVE DEPENDED ON THEIR SOFTWARE FOR YEARS.
    Your greed will become your undoing, Microsoft, cause I will REFUSE to use your crapware that makes me less productive.
    The sooner Microsoft gives up on this stupid notion, the better off we all will be.

  8. #8
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    Just been doing a bit of investigation here. I'm on 8.1 and you can split the window by clicking on the app logo at top left. You can move the split left or right to suit. I've had the calculator app and Excel showing on each half and copied and pasted from one to the other both ways. You can click on the taskbar icons to change which app ('Universal' or desktop) you want. For info, on the calculator app, you just click in the window and choose copy or paste as appropriate. There does seem to be a bug in calculator, you have to click copy twice to get the result of the sum to go in the clipboard.

    I haven't got many apps which require copying and pasting so I can't comment on your assertion it's impossible to paste from one to another.

    Win 10 allows you to have universal apps in their own windows, so that would help you there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sharrold View Post
    The problem with "universal" apps is that it's a one size fits all paradigm. Imagine outfitting your private 747 jet with the same controls as your car. It's ludicrous to believe there's exactly one "universal" methodology can drive/fly/sail all vehicle types.

    In the case of the devices used for consumers/business, these universal apps will have to all be dumbed down to the most trivial device. The example is Win8 metro apps all insisting on running full screen. That works on a small screen, such as a tablet or a phone. It just doesn't work on a 30 inch monitor.

    The reason that these apps operate the way that they do is that they have to support a very crude pointing device, namely the human finger. That particular "pointer" device needs a lot of pixel space on the screen so that the system doesn't pick the wrong adjacent button. Likely, no screen designed for touch would ever offer more than one touch point per square inch. Ouch, that's a huge footprint compared to what a mouse can point to.

    If the universal API allowed the developer to specify how dense the "touchpoints" should appear on the screen, then perhaps we may have something workable. Then the developers would soon end up designing screens that could be touched or clicked, depending on the user's preferences and his system's capabilities. But that means the layouts of touch screens will diverge from the clickable screens.

    In Windows 10, we have fully re-sizeable universal apps. They are a joke! When you ask for a less than full screen display, the app's window immediately acquires horizontal and vertical scroll bars. You cannot view the whole screen. Many of these apps don't even "fold" text lines at the window boundary.

    I say that there are TWO operating environments that have to be designed. The touch and the click.

    Steve Harrold
    sharrold@Hotmail.com

    You are spot-on Steve. I've thought the same way since I first came upon the Metro design and then had it increasingly forced upon me by all manner of program vendors onto my Win 7 environment. It simply does not work for the desktop / mouse environment. I also like my icons to have a bit of 3D depth and colour rather than the ridiculous eye-aching flat design of Metro / Universal, especially in a program like Office 2013 which demands efficiency and productivity in the business environment, not straining to see and remember where the relevant icon is.

    MS seem to be involved with some gargantuan neo-Marxist project to homogenise everything and everyone into their way of thinking and doing things; it won't work! I've had a great 20+ years using MS but now I am gradually withdrawing from their tools purely because of this insane intransigence.

    I'm all for change and moving forward and indeed I have welcomed Android as a better alternative to Windows Mobile, but I'd never consider using Android on my desktop nor would most other normal people! If Windows 10 or 11 can't give me the desktop GUI that I enjoy in Win 7 then I will simply migrate to Linux Mint with a Gnome 2 desktop or similar. In fact I may do it even sooner and then run Office 2010 in Wine emulation, or else simply use Office 365 online as and when I need 100% compatibility with my clients using MS.

    I think MS have improved their thinking since the Balmer left but still an awful way to go.
    Last edited by cavehomme; 2015-03-29 at 11:51.

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