back to article Free Windows 8 desktop app development is dead

The next free version of Microsoft’s Visual Studio programming suite won’t build normal Windows desktop apps, it has emerged. Visual Studio 2011 Express edition will only allow developers to build touchscreen-friendly programs for the new Windows 8 Metro UI, according to the software's product page here. Coders will have to …


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  1. Joe K

    Talk about betting the farm on it

    They've absolutely lost their goddamn minds.

    Just look at Ubuntu to see what happens when you force a fondleslab interface on desktop users, they leave in their droves.

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

      Not really. The free version is pretty much only used by amateurs anyway (I think there's a lot of things in the EULA for it that are unpleasant already). I only ever run into it in open-source projects where people use it to compile the Windows version (presumably they can't set up MinGW or similar).

      And the pro version is, well, what the professionals use and totally unaffected. I don't think anything really important was really lost for them here, and maybe a few more people will actually come to GCC/MinGW/Eclipse etc. because of things like this. But certainly anyone who was paying them already hasn't suffered at all.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

        "The free version is pretty much only used by amateurs anyway"

        True, it's not going to affect many (any?) professional developers. It's not like the paid versions are that expensive in context. But "amateur" includes a lot of people, typically young, who want to learn and might enjoy bashing out their first free app that they can share with the world.

        People should never be discouraged from learning to program. E.g. by having to use Eclipse.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

          That's the point - you want a lot of apps on metro, not the desktop so the easiest way is to make metro the only thing you can program for free.

          The old studio express didn't do MFC because they wanted people to do c++/CLR and winforms instead (or were banned from pushing MFC on kids by some sense of moral resposnibility)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

            "That's the point - you want a lot of [people to totally give up on Windows 8 and migrate to Linux], so the easiest way is to make metro the only thing you can program for free [on Windows 8]"

            That's how I read the sentence anyhow. I know what Redmond want, but what they will get is a totally different thing.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: you want a lot of apps on metro

            >> you want a lot of apps on metro, not the desktop so the easiest way is to make metro the only thing you can program for free.<<

            quantity not quality seems to be order of day now - a million "fart" apps for Metro will undoubtedly seem a success

      2. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

        For anything other than a complete amateur, £300 isn't a lot of money.

        The thing is that if you are a student hacking away at some project in your dorm, £300 is a lot of beer/pizza money, so you will put it together using free tools. You are not then going to rewrite it using Microsoft tools if it becomes the next big thing such as facebook. You will continue to develop on the same platform, perhaps using more expensive versions of the tools.

        1. corrodedmonkee

          Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

          I don't remember software price causing me any problems at university. Yarr.

          Though, this being said, you do get cheaper versions for students, in most parts. It mostly gets people trying to train up if you are trying to learn outside of work and aren't on a course. Though that can still be £360 for a student.

          In my opinion the Creative Cloud is certainly a better direction for Adobe to take, but £45 a month for a person who is learning is a little bit ridiculous, though less ridiculous than dropping a £700 on Photoshop if you don't know how to use it already.

          I'm personally enjoying messing around with Adobe Edge Preview, just because it IS free.

          1. hopelessness

            Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

            As a student (for the next few weeks), I can confirm that by visiting any UK (and probably international) student can get full uninhibited copies of a lot of MS software. This isn't well publicised and yet it could probably help a plethora or University students!

        2. Robert Heffernan


          "The thing is that if you are a student hacking away at some project in your dorm, £300 is a lot of beer/pizza money, so you will put it together using free tools."

          The thing is, if you are a bona-fied student with an email address from your school/college, you can sign up for Microsoft's DreamSpark program. Students get access to free Product keys for just about any Microsoft product, including Windows, Windows Server, SQL Server and non-express Visual Studio editions.

          It's really a great idea. Kind of like the Volume Licensing portal access I have ;)

        3. Wensleydale Cheese

          Re: Talk about betting the farm on it


          "For anything other than a complete amateur, £300 isn't a lot of money."

          But it's another £300 out of your general technology fund.

          And it doesn't stop at £300. MS are very good at persuading you that you really want the next level up,

    2. Law

      Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

      There is an open source IDE called SharpDevelop - I was actually using it as a professionally developer in my last job because they were too stingy to pay for VS.

      It's mainly for C# development - but supports other languages too. Take a look, it's decent and fast.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Ubuntu Desktop users leaving in droves?

      Not really, the KDE, GNOME (and other) desktops are still available and host thriving developer communities.

      1. Goat Jam

        Re: Ubuntu Desktop users leaving in droves?

        Are you compiling the list of "Worst desktop environments for Linux" ?

    4. RAMChYLD

      Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

      > Just look at Ubuntu to see what happens when you force a fondleslab interface on

      > desktop users, they leave in their droves.

      Well, to simply put, yeah. But the truth is, everyone just switched to the Xubuntu respin or quickly installed XFCE and switched to that instead.

      I myself use Kubuntu, although I think I'll switch to using XFCE as my primary environment, given that I'll be doing lots of gaming on that box.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Talk about betting the farm on it


    5. Pookietoo

      Re: Just look at Ubuntu

      Actually I'm thinking about giving Unity a good try. On the machine that's currently running the Win8 preview - I've given up trying to like that.

  2. Alan Bourke

    The initial reaction

    is of course to cry foul. However - how many serious, pro developers use Express? Not many I'd wager, other than maybe people developing for xBox Indie. The existing versions of Express will presumably still exist and still work for years .. so yes, a bit of a dick move to get people to buy into this Metro horseshit (well, horseshit on the desktop anyway) but not the end of the world.

    1. Ye Gads

      Re: The initial reaction

      Except that you've probably got a lot of people writing WinPho apps using Express. People who will find they need to upgrade to VS 2011 to port their app to the new WinRT interface.

      And they won't be able to do this unless they fork out the thick end of £500

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: The initial reaction

        Is that definitely correct - if VS2011 Express is MEtro only won't you be able to write phone apps on it since those are Metro too?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The initial reaction

          different kind of metro apps? WinPho are silverlight, Win8 arent I believe?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The initial reaction

          On that Beta page. Quote. "Express products for Windows Phone and Windows Azure development will be available in conjunction with the next Windows Phone release and Windows Azure update. Until then, you can continue to use Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone to create Windows Phone apps, and Windows Azure SDK for .NET (includes Visual Web Developer 2010 Express) to create Windows Azure cloud services."

  3. Ye Gads

    Stupid, stupid, stupid

    How do you get people used to using your tools if the only stuff they can build with it is apps for a single, untested device with no market share?

    The whole strength of Visual Studio was that you could intstall a couple of templates and be up-and-running with Azure/Windows Phone/Blah.

    All this will do is push people towards SharpDevelop and make it harder for enthusiasts and hobbyists to write their own apps, and given these are the people who are churning out WinPho apps at the rate of 300 a day that is incredibly short-sighted.

    1. qwarty

      Re: Stupid, stupid, stupid

      They state on that Beta page that Express editions for Phone and Azure are to follow.

      Understandable Microsoft is focussed on the Metro stuff right now. Fair bet they will be catching up on desktop next year IMO, would indeed be pretty stupid otherwise.

  4. JDX Gold badge

    So use VS2010 if you want to make desktop apps for free.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Absolutely. In fact, use VS2010 in preference to VS2011 *anyway* because the only changes in the latter are the grey colour scheme and the ability to target WinRT. Most amateur developers won't want either.

      Also, *any* Windows compiler produced in the last decade or two can target the Win8 desktop. All you need is a linker capable of setting /subsystem:windows (or console, to taste) and the headers for a recent SDK. The fact that MS have produced a compiler so lame that it can't even do that is (perhaps) newsworthy, but it is not the death knell for cost-free programming on Windows.

      In fairness, El Reg isn't the only site that has completely over-reacted on this one.

  5. Flabbergarstedbastard

    Monodevelop anyone?

    My spidey sense tells me that Xamarin is about to get a boost.

    1. Neil Alexander

      Re: Monodevelop anyone?

      MonoDevelop is still immature compared to Visual Studio. That's not to say it isn't usable, but it certainly lacks a lot of features that power users will expect.

  6. David Webb


    I'm struggling to find the "Metro only" reference.

    From what I can tell it allows you to develop for the Metro interface but doesn't seem to be exclusive towards Metro only applications.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lost

      "Desktop application development

      Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows 8 provides tools for Metro style app development. To create desktop apps, you need to use Visual Studio 11 Professional, or higher. In addition, Visual Studio 2010 Express products - Visual Basic 2010 Express, Visual C++ 2010 Express, and Visual C# 2010 Express - will remain available for free download."

    2. Paul Shirley

      Re: Lost

      Other reports suggest thevlicence terms forbid deploying desktop apps. Too lazy to check which it is but I did grab the ISO for the last release in case I ever need to hack something together.

      Realistically I'll probably just use any convenient scripting tool at hand if that happens. Even Java...

    3. ranger

      Re: Lost

      Under "Desktop application development" it says:

      "Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows 8 provides tools for Metro style app development. To create desktop apps, you need to use Visual Studio 11 Professional, or higher. In addition, Visual Studio 2010 Express products - Visual Basic 2010 Express, Visual C++ 2010 Express, and Visual C# 2010 Express - will remain available for free download. "

      ...that pretty much covers it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical M$. They charge for dev tools and then back down and release free tools when they realise nobody is developing for their platform.

    It should not cost money to develop on any platform. Developing software should always be free.

    1. dogged

      What part of the "Express" part were you too stupid to deal with?

    2. JDX Gold badge

      I would love it if that were the case but it's never been the case.

      I'd still rather pay £300 for something brilliant than use something free and crappy if I'm using it 30 hours a week.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Qt Creator is pretty damn good

        I've found it much nicer to use than Visual Studio 2010, notably it's much easier to bring up a program written on somebody else's computer and I've found its code modelling to be excellent.

        It's free and open source.

        The only annoying bit us that code panes are stuck in one window, once that is fixed it will be damn near perfect for C++ dev.

      2. eulampios


        Would you rather pay £300 for something non-free and crappy than use free and brilliant?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    So forcing people to code for a browser with less limitations than the desktop - cunning Microsoft

    This cunning approach will only force people to look at the web browser interface, see they are not forced to turn there application into a multi post-it's notes labotomy and end up giving users the ability to not be tied to the microsoft platform.

    There in effect trying to force a mobile interface onto a desktop enviroment and this wont work well for alot of things and will only force people to code for the easier web based html5 standard that can handle there needs. Not like there isn't enough local processing power on peoples computers to have a interpreted language that gets interpreted by another nth degree and still not be a CPU issue.

    I therefore approve of this direction Microsoft are taking as the shortcut to freedom just became alot more appealing.

    and for everything else there is always ReactOS ( ).

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: So forcing people to code for a browser with less limitations than the desktop

      What did grammar and spelling ever do to you?

    2. Neil Alexander
      Thumb Down

      Re: ... - cunning Microsoft

      Do you know anyone who actually uses ReactOS? I sure as hell don't.

      1. Goat Jam

        Re: ... - cunning Microsoft

        ReactOS, oh yes, it's been what, 5 years since I last checked in on those fun guys.

        <clickety click>

        "Please bear in mind that ReactOS 0.3.14 is still in alpha stage"

        Hmmm, just about where it was up to back then.

        Let's take a look at the wayback machine, all the way back to May 29 2007.

        "Please bear in mind that ReactOS 0.3.1 is still in alpha stage"

        Oh my, now that's progress.

  9. auburnman

    So then...

    There'll be a WINE style convertertron that allows Metro apps to run 'normally' on a desktop with mouse & Keyboard? Seems to be par for the course that Microsoft try to restrict you from doing something and then some amateurs hack together something that bodges round the restrictions, and the resulting mess makes Microsoft look even worse.

    1. DAN*tastik

      Re: So then...

      Don't have Windows boxes handy, so I haven't tested it, but maybe you can run your applications in "sane" mode by running them on Cygwin run Wine?

      1. El Andy

        Re: So then...

        WTF? Just because the Express version of VS doesn't allow the development of desktop apps, it doesn't mean you can't run desktop apps.

        You certainly don't need to do anything as sick twisted as Wine on Cygwin. Or anything involving Cygwin at all, for that matter. Ever.

  10. Keith 17

    It's free

    so there's little point in complaining as it means they can do what they like with it.

    Which of course includes "being stupid".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's free

      Does that work if someone punches you in the face? "You cannot charge for assault, it was given free!"

      1. Law

        Re: It's free

        "Does that work if someone punches you in the face? "You cannot charge for assault, it was given free!" "

        <------- see icon

      2. Goat Jam

        Re: It's free

        What an idiotic analogy.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's free

          I don't know about idiotic analogy. I consider anything related to Metro to be roughly analogous to being punched in the face. But hey, it's fr...actually, waitaminute...they plan to charge for this?

          To hell with that noise.

  11. Vetis

    you arent forced to use that and its as Keith said, it's free.. there are plenty of other IDE's out there.

  12. Stubbs

    Who cares?

    This is a non issue.

    Sure it's a bit annoying that something that is available now won't be updated but VS2010 Express is still free and if you are determined not to spend money the number of alternative development tools is so abundant that it really makes no difference.

    The other thing is don't students get VS pro for free anyway?

    1. David Webb

      Re: Who cares?

      Yep, totally free (along with lots of other stuff) from Dreamspark. Licence conditions may mean you can't deploy developed applications commercially:

      c. Restrictions

      You may not use the software provided as part of the Student Subscription:

      • for commercial purposes (except as permitted under Section 3(d); or

      • to develop or maintain your own administrative or IT systems.

      However, there is no 3(d) so, loophole! (it's probably worthwhile to do a cheap OU course and use that to get hold of Windows Server + VS and access to putting your games on Windows Marketplace....)

      1. Bronek Kozicki
        Thumb Down

        Re: Who cares?

        "Student Subscription" - in license terms of Express edition??? Are you sure you aren't confusing academic MSDN license or something similar with Visual C++ 2010 Express ?

        Last time I checked, license conditions on Express editions did not restrict commercial deployment of such developed applications (whether that's a good idea is entirely separate issue).

  13. Greg J Preece

    Out of their minds

    What a brilliant idea when introducing a controversial new operating system - limiting development for it in any way.

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: Out of their minds

      Right, because VS Express 2010 will suddenly stop working on the day Windows 8 is launched.

      For f*ck's sake: Windows 8's APIs for traditional desktop apps is all but identical to that in Windows 7. Windows 8's primary focus is on its new Start Menu*, which has exploded into a really, really big application and document launch app crossed with Vista's old Sidebar widgets.

      That Metro UI may be a bit clunky when used with a keyboard and mouse, but so what? 75% of all computers sold in recent years have been laptops, not desktops! Most laptops now come with 'multi-touch' trackpads, so the Metro design isn't quite as bonkers as the weirdoes out there still using desktops with mice would have us believe. It's actually pretty cool running in a Parallels VM on a MacBook Pro, so it has a lot of potential to do well.

      Desktop users are very much in a minority now. Except in corporations, who won't be upgrading to Win8 anyway. The mouse is dying, and deservedly so: it's the primary cause of RSI.

      * (Take a good hard look at how that Start Menu has changed in each Windows release since 1995. The one in Windows 7 shares only one thing in common with the original Win95 implementation: its position at the left of the Taskbar. Quite why people are wailing about Metro, when the Start Menu hasn't exactly been a paragon of consistency over the years escapes me. It's not that bad.)

      1. Steven Roper

        Re: Out of their minds

        Say what?

        "75% of all computers sold in recent years have been laptops, not desktops! "

        Do you have a source for that statistic? Or, more likely, did you just pull that number out of your arse?

        "...weirdoes out there still using desktops with mice would have us believe."

        Erm... if only weirdoes are still using desktops with mice, then every single company we do business with at work, and the vast majority of of our customers, and my parents and friends, and their friends, in fact just about every single person I know must be a weirdo. Strange that.

        I have a tablet PC and a laptop, and most people I've encountered have laptops, some have tablets, but all of them use these devices in addition to using desktop computers.

        The keyboard/mouse combo is far from dead, Sean. In fact, it'll likely be around for many years to come, simply because it's the optimal way to interface with a computer. In pretty much the same way as the steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedal combo has been around now for coming up on a century, because it's the optimal way to control a car.

        1. Pookietoo

          Re: Out of their minds

          I hardly think the mouse is an optimal interface element. The trackball, OTOH ...

  14. GarethJones

    Why do Microsoft..

    keep shooting themselves in the foot. From what I can see business are going to shun windows 8 just for the amount of training it is going to need. After all IT budgest are being cut world wide at the moment, it's not as if there's buckets ofcash lying around.

    Now they are alienating all of the smaller software devs out there by forcing them to use the Metro Interface, which IMO is not suitible for a desktop environment. Phones - Yes; Tablets - Yes, but not desktops.

    All they need to do now, is p-off the OEM's and consumer's.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Why do Microsoft..

      "Now they are alienating all of the smaller software devs out there by forcing them to use the Metro Interface"

      No they aren't.

      1. GarethJones

        Re: Why do Microsoft..

        Oh yes they are.... All together now children.

  15. the-it-slayer


    I think Microsoft has upgraded from a little gun, to a shot-gun, to a bazooka and now an atomic nuclear bomb to direct at their foot in the space of 3 months.

    Now we're just waiting for it to go off when it's released... KABOOM! (then we'll be back to M$ back tracking and releasing Win9 without Metro). Place ya bets!

  16. Lockwood

    Didn't people have similar gripes 17 years ago?

    You're getting rid of Program Manager and forcing us to use a desktop?! It's the end of the world! You're forcing us to change! Noone will like this Start button idea! Give us back our program groups! I don't care I can change the SHELL= line in win.ini to point to progman.exe, I want it like that out of the box! Waaa.

    TvTropes would call this "They Changed It, Now It Sucks" and I would reckon that a percentage of these people would come under "Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch", seeing Metro as just another thing as to why Windoze r teh sux0r and why Linux and teh macs are teh r00lz.

    So, to summarise that: A lot of changes got complained about at first and then were liked and haters gonna hate.

    1. Alan Bourke


      "So, to summarise that: A lot of changes got complained about at first and then were liked."

      Yes - you cannot make the deduction that all change is therefore good, though.

      1. Lockwood

        Re: Absolutely

        Of course not, but the trend seems to be to want to run at Metro with pitchforks and torches before it's really had a chance to come out.

        I distinctly rememebr all the "Early Learning Centre" comments made about XP, for example.

        "Big red X buttons", people used to say. "Dumbing it right down, are they?"

        And now these same people are saying "8?! No. I'll stick with XP."

        1. Anonymous Dutch Coward

          Re: Absolutely

          Actually, I still think the kindergarten theme in XP is a bit... childish ;)

          How's that for consistency... cantankerous complainer with stamina...

          (Fortunately, you can tweak XP till it looks usable again...)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Lockwood: XP/Fisher-Price, Win8/Metro

          It's fairly easy to fix the Fisher-Price default look of XP:

          Right-click "My Computer"; Click (Properties); click [Advanced]; in {Preferences}, click [Settings]; in [Visual Effects], click (*) Adjust for Best Performance; click [Apply]; click [OK]; click [OK].

          Or find the Registry entries to do this, or write a GUI-script (AutoIt, Sikuli, whatever).

          I recall reading there's a Registry-based method for turning off Metro, as well.

          Meet the new boss -- the same as the old boss. It's a tempest in a teacup.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: @Lockwood: XP/Fisher-Price, Win8/Metro

            That worked in Windows XP, and you can do the same in Windows Vista and Windows 7.

            However, you cannot turn Metro off in Windows 8.

            Microsoft deliberately made that impossible - it was possible in the early developers preview, then the ability was removed and there's no sign that it's going to come back.

    2. DrXym

      That isn't the issue

      Metro probably is okay for touch based apps. It absolutely is not okay for mouse / keyboard controlled apps. This can be seen all too well in the consumer preview. So by excluding support for conventional Windows apps, Microsoft are artificially restricting the appeal and utility of their software.

      As it's free I can't really bitch and moan about their choice but it does seem a bit of a risky proposition to make their software LESS useful when it's not like there is a shortage of affordable / free development tools out there.

      1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Re: That isn't the issue

        "Metro probably is okay for touch based apps. It absolutely is not okay for mouse / keyboard controlled apps."

        Then don't use it with a mouse and keyboard. Most computers sold over the past few years are laptops, not desktops—the split was around 75% laptops / 25% desktops last time I checked. Laptops are therefore Microsoft's target market, and laptops already have multitouch trackpads, even on Planet Windows. Many people don't use a mouse at all, except to play the odd game.

        Ever tried running the Community Preview for Windows 8 on a MacBook Pro? Its design choices make a lot more sense on that kind of hardware. No, a touch-screen laptop is still a dumb idea, but a laptop with a multi-touch trackpad? Apple have been making a mint selling those for years. They even sell the trackpad separately.

        You might want to consider investing in one. Once you get used to it, you'll wonder why anyone would ever use a mouse again, except for the occasional game. The mouse was always a kludge and never particularly ergonomic, so it is also a leading cause of RSI—far more so than keyboards.

        The heyday of the traditional desktop PC and WIMP interface is ending.

        1. JDX Gold badge


          I'm confused how a trackpad is the same as a touchscreen? I have a MacBook with a multitouch pad and it is still fundamentally acting as a mouse - I have a mouse-cursor I move around the screen using one finger... then I have additional multitouch gestures which are decoupled from the mouse.

          So how does this help with Metro which is a touch-based UI where you want to touch a tile? Can you go into more detail how using a trackpad changes things?

    3. Lennart Sorensen

      No not really. Some users always whine about changes. But overall the more technical users have in my experience liked the improvements in new versions of windows. Windows 8 on the other hand seems almost universally disliked. It is the first time I just can't be bothered to play around with the new version. It is too slow and difficult to work with and simply annoying. I even liked the interface changes in vista (the search to filter menus just by typing in most windows was brilliant), even though vista had other issues. So over all new windows versions have improved the UI. Windows 8 hasn't improved it, it has ruined it.

      Of course I didn't miss program manager at all since I never liked it in the first place. Norton desktop for windows was an excellent product to make windows 3.1 actually usable in a way program manager never could. Windows 95 and NT4 on never had a need for such a thing. Windows 8 on the other hand is going to need 3rd party work to make the basic task bar work again. The metro start screen is simply unacceptable to a keyboard and mouse user.

      Magic screen areas that pop stuff up when you go there are a bad idea. It is already hard enough to explain right click menus to casual users. if you can't see it then it does not exist and you can't use it. That means it is impossible for a casual user to find anything in windows 8 because of its magic screen corners. It is simply a terrible idea and it will fail very badly.

      I always wondered if linux stood a chance against windows on the desktop, given linux was always trying to catch up. Apparently the real threat to windows on the desktop is microsoft, through the fact they are actively trying to destroy it.

      In the past when a new version of windows was in development, you would see the press going "Look at this nifty new thing they are doing". With windows 8, must press has been "The interface has been broken." You would think microsoft could take a hint, but they have decided that they are willing to destroy the desktop market to attempt to get into the phone and tablet market. I doubt it will work.

      And why does metro have to be so bland and ugly looking compared to the pretty stuff done in the past?

  17. Anonymous Coward

    "Didn't people have similar gripes 17 years ago?"

    Not really , because no one actually liked program manager or file manager that much. When Win95 came out it was more a case of What Took You So Long? given that Apple had had their finder interface (which is all Win95 was except upside down) since 1984.

    I don't think anyone outside microsoft believes that a tablet interface is going to work well on a desktop PC. Seems to me MS have been caught in the headlights of the consumer switch to mobile hardware and have just assumed in a panic that no one will care about the desktop anymore and its fondleslabs all the way. Which is clearly BS. The desktop PC is going nowhere anytime soon.

    1. Lockwood

      Which is why we still have the option of standard WinForms (Except VS Express, which is not designed to be a fully robust environment anyway).

      There is a large trend towards fondleslabs now, I've got a 2005 one (which W8 doesn't like all that much), and I can see that some people would benefit from having such similarities between their fixed system and their mobile system.

      I'm not fully defending the Metro interface, it did take me a short while to get used to it. After getting used to it, I keep trying to double click the control box to close an app only to switch to Metro and back(!).

      Given the changes between DP and CP based on feedback and the improvements made there, I'd guess that the next release will be more refined again.

    2. Kubla Cant


      "The desktop PC is going nowhere anytime soon."

      I can't help wondering if this statement, interpreted slightly differently, is an important factor in Microsoft's strategy. Many business desktop installations seem to be happily stuck on XP. Cessation of support for XP doesn't really increase their risk, as there won't be many nasty surprises left in an 8-year-old operating system. None of the applications that require post-XP versions seem to have anything compelling to commend them.

      From the perspective of a corporate IT manager, I suspect that desktop Windows upgrades just look like expenditure on licenses and user training with little if any measurable return. From Microsoft's perspective, it may be that upgrades to corporate desktops are pretty thin pickings anyway. Home desktops, meanwhile, mostly run whatever was installed when they were new, so Microsoft get the same sales whatever their latest operating system.

      If this is all true, then it makes sense for Microsoft to be looking for footholds in new markets.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        True, but what does not make sense is that they're basically preparing to throw away their current market /without/ knowing if that market is really ready for it.

        Example: say we're in the Win8 era. Some corporations might have moved to Windows 7 by then. Win9 is on the horizon. What would a company which mostly uses desktops best strategy be then when it comes to desktop upgrades and maintenance and such ?

        Surely not Windows 8. Windows 9 perhaps? No, that's too young; business usually settle for proven solutions.

        But what other alternative is there?

        Say; how much would it cost to pick up a Linux distribution and maintain it in-house? Or picking it up and let another company maintain it for you?

        1 ugly Metro interface vs. at least a dozen desktop managers.

        Office and Outlook? Simple; pick the right tool for the job, you get Office 365 (which easily runs in a browser) and as such all Linux computers suddenly have MS Office support (sort off). OR you go the extra mileage and look into Libre or Open office.

        As such.... Don't you think its also very liable that MS could be very busy digging their own grave with all this?

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: @Kubla

          Reasonable post, but I think the reasoning is flawed because it underestimates the life-span of Windows 7. We still have people happily using Windows XP out there and with all the modernisation that came in in Vista (and was made to work in WIndows 7 ;), Win 7 could happily endure not only through Windows 8 (which it certainly will), but maybe even through Windows 9. Windows 8 is okay for the Desktop, but not great. Plenty of good things in it, but Metro is a step backward (imo). However, it is shaping up to be really good for mobile devices, tablets, et al. A big part of the shift in Windows 8 is closer integration with the Cloud (hate that term, but too late now. It will be cemented alongside Blog and its siblings). So they use Win8 to establish an eco-system for themselves and just let corporate carry on using Windows 7. Microsoft have a whole new market to attack so I think that's what Win8 is about: make sure the homeland is reasonably fortified and launch the troops into iPadistan.

          They will shift *some* Win8 in the corporate market - it does have nice enterprise systems for managing BYOD which is a big thing these days. And of course new home users will get it at the usual crawling pace as they buy new PCs. But so long as they are expanding into the new market space and establishing their own eco system of SkyDrive accounts, etc., Win8 will still be considered a success.

          At least this is my supposition.

  18. Cucumber C Face

    Coding by non-professionals "impossible" since the early 1980's anyhow

    Microsoft probably figured the 'amateur' developer market was lost to the Raspberry Pi platform anyway.

  19. DrXym

    Use Eclipse instead

    If you want a free development tool for Windows, use Eclipse. It won't help with C# but you can develop Java apps just fine, even visual ones now that Window Builder is part of it.

    You can also at a pinch develop C/C++ apps using Eclipse and MingW. C++ development certainly isn't as user friendly as DevStudio but it works.

  20. Lockwood
    Thumb Up

    Evaluating thumbs down

    I'm intrigued as to whether the thumbs down are for:

    Keeping a fairly open mind a Microsoft decision, and not jumping on the hate bandwagon

    A comment that speaks against Linux, or

    A comment that speaks against St Jobs

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Evaluating thumbs down

      Thumb down - for whining about thumbs down.

      1. Steven Roper

        Re: Evaluating thumbs down

        Lockwood didn't seem to me to be whining about being thumbed down, they were merely curious about what the reasoning behind being thumbed down might be. Which to me is a fair thing to ask - if someone goes to the trouble of composing and posting a comment and people downvote it, what's wrong with wanting to know why? If they made an error, at least point out what the error is so the person can correct their knowledge.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. John P

    So M$ want all the hobbyists to work on Metro instead of WInforms, nothing wrong with that.

    However, if you want people to use your latest and greatest technology, you make it sufficiently appealing that they WANT to use it. By forcing them to use it, you only encourage them to look at alternatives or just rip off the Professional Edition from a Torrent site.

    People move technologies because they want to. If you force them to use a replacement that is unproven and in many cases unsuitable (trying writing a decent LOB app in Metro), they will just keep coming up with increasingly illegal ways to stick with what they currently have.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Back to lockdown?

    If you want to get people interested in your platform you should provide them with enough means to fully utilize it. And although Balmer made the whole thing look ridiculous he did have a point when he ranted about 'developers'.

    But this is obviously not the way to go and might hurt the business.

    Lets talk about non-professional developers here; like your average sysadmin. The Express version of C# allow me to build PowerShell extensions which I can then use on my server(s). This option (among others) is one the things which make Windows appealing to me; being able to /do/ stuff and not being tied down.

    And I'm pretty sure that there are plenty of people using Express because what they do simply doesn't warrant a huge investment into a full VS, an environment which starts ticking at around $500,-.

    There's more to Windows then the interface itself, I'm amazed that MS doesn't seem to be realizing this anymore.

  24. Nigel 11

    Qt, anyone?

    I'd suggest hobbyists, or anyone else who doesn't actively want to restrict their software to Windows 8, take a look at an open widget kit. Qt is awesome. WxWidgets is easier to get started with. There's also Tcl/Tk.

    While you're at it, dump the MS languages and learn Python, or some other open scripting language.

    Then your app should work on pretty much any flavour of Windows or Linux or Mac, and you won't be helping Microsoft to lock anyone else into their walled garden/ prison.

    1. wowfood

      Re: Qt, anyone?

      Or rather than wasting time learning Python when you already know C#, go for mono, same code but works on all machines.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Qt, anyone?

      "There's also Tcl/Tk"

      Tcl? Ugh, you have got to be kidding. That lash up bastard child of shell script and C was a dogs dinner when I used it in the mid 90s. Why anyone would use it now when there are far better designed and more expressive languages around is a mystery to me.

  25. John Styles

    Not unprecedented

    If I recall correctly, the current (VS2010) and previous (VS2008) Express editions don't let you develop MFC applications, you have to use WinForms with C++/CLR if you want to use C++ with them (probably raw Win32 API is OK, can't remember).

    i.e. the Express version is targetted towards whatever Microsoft ispushing at the time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not unprecedented

      Remember when everything was going to be coded in .NET (and then Silverlight)?

    2. Mark Allen

      Re: Not unprecedented

      Win32 code works fine in VS2010. I had to build something for a client. Hadn't touch C\C++ in a decade. But VS2010 happily recompiled my old code from 1999. Just a few compiler errors which were easy to clear. (Though I did end up dropping Win9x support when cleaning up the code...)

      Raw C\C++ code making Win32 calls direct to APIs works well. And the applications created are so much smaller than the MFC mess was. (I laugh at .NET and its bloat), Raw C\C++ has shown itself to be far more portable over the decades than any of these daft Frameworks that come and go.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: "raw C\C++"

        Is that like a Windows spelling of "raw C/C++"?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Not exactly. MFC has never been supported within Express as far as I know. Even the Express versions dated from 2005 did not support MFC, only if you went professional.

      So IMO you're making a false comparison; we're talking about MS actually stopping to provide support for certain tasks.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Thinking that Windows 8 will make a large number of users leave Windows for Linux (or even Mac OS X) is just as insane as Microsoft apparently expecting Windows 8 to be a commercial success. What will happen is that even more people will stay on Windows 7 than who stayed on Windows XP, and in a couple of years Microsoft will announce that Windows 8 was intended as a "tablet-only" release for "testing the waters and building innovation" and whatever, and then Windows 9 will be a normal Windows release and a partial backtrack just like Windows 7.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Thinking that Windows 8 will make a large number of users leave iOS & Android for WP7 (or even Win8) is just as insane as Microsoft apparently expecting Windows 8 to be a commercial success.

      There, fixed it.

      Never lose sight of what this is about: bludgeoning their way into the mobile and pad markets using their desktop monopoly. Won't it be fun if Metro on the desktop is so annoying it loses them tablet and mobile sales?

    2. h4rm0ny

      "What will happen is that even more people will stay on Windows 7 than who stayed on Windows XP"

      That might actually be part of their strategy. People can rant about MS being evil, or underhand or whatever, but I don't think they're stupid. Even the generally reviled Vista was kind of a necessary step on the way to Windows 7 (they could either keep it in-house for a couple of years more until it because Windows 7 ready or release it and at least make some money and get a lot of the kinks out of it, knowing that many would skip it anyway as they were still happy with XP).

      So what about people staying on Windows 7 because they don't like Windows 8? Well the thing is, they would probably do that anyway. Windows 7 has been really well-received. Prising people off it and onto Windows 8, if Windows 8 had been just another small iterative development of Win 7, would have been a nightmare marketing scenario. There are improvements in Windows 8 (it's not all about Metro), but no great flagship items that would persuade Upper Management. So why not accept that fact and turn it into an opportunity to attack the tablet and BOYD market? Much of the really radical stuff in Windows 8 is to do with portability, cloud-computing, etc. What you need for these things to be a success isn't upgrades of your work PC, but installs on various tablets and mobile devices. When you have that install base, then Windows 8 or 9 in the corporate environment becomes a major draw. Particularly with all the enterprise tools in Windows 8 for managing BYOD, etc.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        "Even the generally reviled Vista was kind of a necessary step on the way to Windows 7"

        Historically, I don't think Windows 7 was ever the destination. Vista was the destination. They reached it and discovered that it was a horrible swamp of a place and asked themselves "Where now?". Win7 was the nearest high ground.

        Going the wrong way is an occupational hazard of leading the way. Still, you've got to wonder who's reading the usability map over there.

        1. h4rm0ny

          "Historically, I don't think Windows 7 was ever the destination. Vista was the destination. They reached it and discovered that it was a horrible swamp of a place and asked themselves "Where now?". Win7 was the nearest high ground."

          Well we're both right, really. There's no doubt that Microsoft would have liked Vista to be better received and to sell better. That would always be true even if it had been hailed as a great thing. But of course they also had a view on what was coming next and Vista's place as a step to what was next. They were working on Windows 7 even as Vista was being released so it's not true to suppose that they release Vista and then suddenly started writing Windows 7 as an emergency response.

          Vista was where they overhauled a lot of necessary internal code, changed the security model and other fundamentals. You're absolutely right that the company would have liked their product to sell more - which company wouldn't. But it was always going to be a step toward the next version. Just like Win8 will be a step toward Win9, etc.

  27. Tigra 07


    Microsoft isn't even gonna try and compete with the other tablet makers then.

    And they're determined to make Windows 8 a bigger flop than Vista!

    Kaboom should be obvious...if you own Microsoft shares either sell sell sell or get used to them being cheaper than toilet paper

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    At what point do they decide to limit the new versions of DirectX to only work under Metro, destroying the ability for developers making traditional desktop games and applications to take full advantage of the hardware acceleration? First service pack? Next full version? Windows 9?

    It's coming, you know it's coming because they played the same dirty trick to get people off XP and onto 7/Vista.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: DirectX

      As long as Xbox360 lives most PC games will support DX9 whatever Microsoft tries.

      Win7 broke enough games that it's debatable whether it drove adoption more than discouraged it amongst gamers. Win8 deliberately created incompatibility with existing game libraries would be incredibly risky.

  29. tempemeaty

    Monopoly is what a monopoly does

    It's a monopoly. I've said that before. It's only going to continue to get worse.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do you switch metro off.

    For my work boxes, I don't want that stupid shtt. For toys perhaps. But work ? Really?

    What is going on in Redmond?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: How do you switch metro off.

      Officially, you don't. Unofficially, my guess is that as soon as MS commit to a final release it will be worth someone's time and energy to figure out how to restore a normal desktop.

      As a first cut, it wouldn't be too hard to create a bog-standard Win32 app that sat in the bottom left-hand corner and whenever you clicked on it you were shown a cascading menu of all the shortcuts under your startup folder. (Probably only a few hundred lines of code.) You'd still have to go through the metro abomination once when you boot up in the morning, but thereafter you could stay put in a familiar environment.

      There's really not much MS can do to stop people running Windows apps on Windows. In the unlikely event that they ever succeed, they'll have removed the only reason that anyone still buys their wretched OS in the first place.

  31. Zot
    Thumb Up



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