Windows 8 isn't going to catch on fast without a little prompting, and Microsoft is prompting with nationwide, one-day developer camps - free - to anyone who wants hands-on help creating Metro style apps for the new operating system.
In a series of 21 day-long workshops starting today in Reston, Va., the company is tutoring developers in its vision of what Metro style apps ought to look like and how to get them to look that way.
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Presenters will give instruction in Visual Studio, which Microsoft recommends as the main tool for building the apps that are distinguished by their reliance on touchscreen navigation and commands as well as a look based on text and bold colors.
With Windows 8 essentially in open beta now and expected to become generally available this fall, the company needs a stable of attractive and useful apps to run on the new operating system that can take advantage of features that make it a bold break from Windows 7. While Windows 8 fully supports Windows 7 applications, there is one category of Windows 8 - Windows on ARM (WOA) - that supports only Metro apps.
WOA is available only bundled on Microsoft-certified devices, and applications must come either directly from Microsoft as part of the purchase or via the new Windows Store. These workshops should help generate applications that can stock the store's shelves.
According to Microsoft, Metro style apps don't just have a look, they incorporate features of the Windows 8 platform. For example, the system features a search icon that is found by swiping in a set of icons called charms from the left side of the screen. With a properly written Metro app, that search charm will search within the active application rather than through Windows itself.
The goal, according to Microsoft, is to give users a sense of cohesiveness between Windows 8 and the apps certified to run on it in WOA devices. That same cohesiveness would carry over to Windows 8 on devices navigated via mouse and keyboard. The company calls this deep integration with the Windows shell.
The developer camps include a hands-on lab session in which Windows 8 experts can guide participants through challenges they may face with the apps they are working on.
The next one after today's is March 29 in Chevy Chase, Md. Other locations and dates can be found here.