Home Build 2011 Day 1 Keynote: Re-imagining Windows Yet Again

Build 2011 Day 1 Keynote: Re-imagining Windows Yet Again

“I don’t think there’s anything better than a totally chrome-free browsing experience.” This from Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft’s Windows division president, during the Day 1 keynote session here at Build 2011 in Anaheim. Technically Sinofsky was referring to the omission of the window gadgets along the frames and sides of Internet Explorer 10 in Metro, the new apps environment in Windows 8.

But everyone here knew what he really meant. Microsoft is promoting the ideal of a Web that is propagated by apps, not by sites. Search in such a Web is much more a function of the operating system, and only partly outsourced to the Internet. In this model, it’s easier not to imagine anything resembling Google.

Steven Sinofsky is fast becoming the face of Microsoft for developers, and he’s growing very comfortable with the role. Unlike anyone else who has represented the company on stage here in the past, he’s casual, direct, and unaffected. He knows how weary attendees are of metaphors, so when he invokes one or when he cites a classic phrase, such as, “I’m… super excited about Windows 8 today,” it’s clearly in jest. If Steve Jobs were portrayed by Barack Obama, Steven Sinofsky would be Joe Biden. He has no problem with interrupting a demo in progress from one of his program managers, to emphasize and underscore a point he wants to be made clearer.

One example: He emphasized the fact that the Start Screen absorbs much of the purpose of Desktop icons (for launching programs), the Start Menu (also for launching programs), the Taskbar (for managing launched programs), and task switching. Because the Metro Start Screen may look a little foreign to newcomers, this emphasis may have been absolutely necessary.

Sinofsky told the crowd of developers today that developers should have their own choice of platforms. “You pick the language you want to use, and you create your own Metro-style applications with Windows 8… We’re bringing forward all the skills that you’ve established, and all the code that you’ve built.” There was some positive response from attendees here at the Anaheim Convention Center arena, which seats about 3,000.

For the first time, Microsoft is revealing the architectural diagram for Windows 8 development. Here, we can see the absolute distinction between what I’m calling the “Two Worlds” – the Metro apps world of the new WinRT runtime library, and the conventional model of programming exemplified by the .NET Framework. You can kinda see which world gets shoved to the side. Although Microsoft is promising the two worlds will co-exist and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, the “super-excitement,” to borrow Sinofsky’s phrase, is obviously reserved for the new programming model.

HTML5 and JavaScript development will be promoted within the next version of the Expression Blend Web developers’ tool, it was revealed today. Although the announcement was effectively that HTML + JS + CSS was being “added,” veterans know that it’s possible to use Blend to visually build standards-based apps. However, by design Blend was made to generate XAML code, which is the XML-based resource language used by .NET and by Silverlight, the client-side managed code system. Microsoft is obviously downplaying Silverlight (although it might not openly admit to doing so).

During a demonstration of “Store” (the working name for the Windows 8 Metro app store), a Windows 8 product manager admitted that the “Store” app was created entirely in HTML and JavaScript, not a Silverlight app.

More news from the Day 1 keynote as it becomes available.

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