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Are you Ready for Windows 8 and Synergy 10?

By Steve Ives, Posted on July 31, 2012 at 4:49 pm

As discussed at the recent DevPartner Conferences, support for Synergy applications on Windows 8 will be introduced in Synergy 10, which is currently available as a beta release. Microsoft has announced the launch date for Windows 8 and Visual Studio 2012 will be October 26th, so it is reasonable to expect that the final versions of Windows 8 and Visual Studio 2012 will be available to developers via MSDN some time soon.

As well as introducing many new features and enhancements in Synergy .NET, Synergy 10 also includes some very significant new features on all of the Traditional Synergy platforms, particularly in the area of SDBMS (that’s ISAM to us mere mortals!). These changes are introduced in a new ISAM revision 6. It is important that you test your applications with Synergy 10 as soon as possible.

As soon as Windows 8 is available to your customers you are likely to start getting calls to install your applications on Windows 8, and that will REQUIRE you to install Synergy 10. At the very least, Synergex recommends that you install the Synergy 10 beta on a system (not necessarily Windows 8 ) and validate that your current application runs without errors. And if you don’t have s system to to that with, remember that it’s easy to build a Virtual Machine to use for testing.

Even better would be to rebuild your applications with version 10 and make sure you don’t have any issues there. And even better than that would be to do a little beta testing and try out some of the many cool new Synergy 10 features. There are even REWARDS for finding bugs!!!

You can find more information about Synergy 10 at http://www.synergyde.com/products/synergyde_beta.aspx


Microsoft Surface

By Steve Ives, Posted on June 18, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Get ready … here comes the big push! Microsoft today announced a new Windows 8 based tablet platform that they are calling “Microsoft Surface” (strange choice of a name, they already had a product with that name and it was literally the size of a table!), and they are boldly claiming that it will rival the almighty iPad. But then again they’d have to say that, otherwise people probably wouldn’t pay much attention!

surfaceDetails are still somewhat “sketchy” but it appears that there will be two initial models, the “Surface for Windows RT” which uses an NVIDIA ARM processor, and the thicker and heavier “Surface for Windows 8 Pro” tablet which uses an Intel Core i5 (Ivy Bridge) processor and not surprisingly will include a significantly larger battery.

You can find Microsoft information about the new device here, and Engadget have a pretty good write-up that addresses the differences between the two models which you can find here.


Windows 8 Release Preview Available Now

By Steve Ives, Posted on May 31, 2012 at 11:42 pm

If you hadn’t already heard, Microsoft today announced that the Windows 8 Release Preview is now available for download. As I talked about in my Introduction to Windows 8 session at the DevPartner Conference in Chicago, my colleagues and I are strongly urging all Synergy developers who build and deploy Synergy applications on Windows to download the release preview now and start testing your installations and applications.

If you attended my session you will know that there are some significant changes in Windows 8 that developers need to be aware of, and we want to help our customers to avoid any potential problems when Windows 8 starts shipping.

As well as the new operating system there is also a new version of the .NET Framework (4.5) which is an “upgrade” to Framework 4.0. This upgrade will be delivered to systems via Windows Update, and replaces the 4.0 version. We have already encountered problems with several existing .NET applications (not just Synergy .NET, just .NET generally) and we strongly advise you to test your .NET applications on Framework 4.5 also.

This version of Windows 8 is likely to be fairly close to whet the final released version will be, but Microsoft have already stated that they are still developing in some areas. If things go “as normal” then we might expect the final RTM (Release to Manufacturing) versions in around two months time, but no guarantees of course! Microsoft have also publicly stated that they are in good shape for a final release well in time for the 2012 “holiday season” … presumably they have big ideas about Santa Claus delivering lots of Windows 8 ARM-based tablets this year … we’ll have to wait and see how well that works out!

You can get more information and download the Windows 8 Release Preview here:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/release-preview

By the way, if you’re more interested in the server version of the O/S then the Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate is also available for download now:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/hh670538.aspx?ocid=&wt.mc_id=TEC_108_1_33

We’re still in conference mode here at Synergex, but once the UK conference in York is out of the way I’ll write more about the changes in Windows 8, and provide more information about what you need to know before your customers start buying Windows 8 systems.


Are you ready for Windows 8 and Visual Studio “11”?

By Steve Ives, Posted on May 15, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Microsoft has recently announced that the Release Candidates of both Windows 8 and Visual Studio “11” will be made available during the first week of June, 2012. Are your applications ready?

The annual Synergex DevPartner Conferences are just around the corner, and will present a wealth of valuable information that Synergy developers need to be aware of in order to deploy apps on these new platforms. It’s not too late to sign up, so don’t miss the opportunity.


Microsoft Announce Windows Store Details

By Steve Ives, Posted on December 9, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Since the //BUILD conference in September many developers have been eagerly awaiting the details of how the new “Windows Store” will operate. The Windows Store will be the primary mechanism by which Windows 8 users will find and acquire Windows Metro-Style Apps.

In addition to the information provided during the event, a new BLOG called Windows Store for Developers was also launched. The BLOG will be worth watching if you’re interested in building and deploying Metro apps.

By the way, if you’re wondering what the time-line looks like on the Windows Store, and on Windows 8 generally, at the end of the video Microsoft confirmed that the Windows Store will open at the same time as the Windows 8 Beta is released, which will be in Late February of 2012.


Windows Reimagined

By Steve Ives, Posted on September 14, 2011 at 12:18 am

Well, all I can say is “WOW”! The first day of the Microsoft BUILD conference is over, and it’s been a LONG day, and it’s been a BUSY day, and it’s been an EXCITING day. Wow!

I’m buzzed … and I’m really quite surprised by that statement. I arrived in Anaheim a little over 24 hours ago, and to be quite honest I was a little skeptical about the whole thing. As you may know from a couple of recent posts, I had started to do some research about what Windows 8 might mean to Synergex, and to our customers, and to our customers customers … and to be quite honest I had more questions than answers. I was more than a little concerned that Microsoft were all set to try to change the Windows world … which they are … but perhaps with less than the amount of (in my opinion) required consideration for existing customers, and applications, and technologies, and tools.

Specifically, I was concerned that there was a lot of talk about HTML5, and of CSS, and of JavaScript … but very little talk about XAML, and C#, and third-party languages like Synergy .NET, and so on. I was concerned that Microsoft were set to not only reimagine Windows, but also reimagine all of the development tools that are used to build Windows applications.

But … big sigh of relief … from me and several thousand other people in the room … although there is a definite emphasis on new development tools which will soon be available within the Microsoft development toolset, i.e. extended support for tools like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript,  there is also a consistent message that existing .NET toolsets are still completely valid and will continue to be so.

On the platform side … WOW! Most of the information to date has centered around videos of demos dating back to early June, and those demos were pretty impressive, Well, I can tell you that things have moved on quite significantly since then, and although Windows 8 is still only in a “Developer Preview” (i.e. pre-beta) state … it’s looking REALLY GOOD!

Of course there are bugs, of course there are glitches, but on the whole people at this conference are pretty excited about what is coming. And that includes the four Synergex employees that are here … after a long day at the conference, and a pretty good stint in the bar afterwards, we’re bouncing ideas around, and coming up with all of these “what if’s”, and seeing the real possibility of Synergy developers being able to fully participate in these exciting new technologies.

Of course some of the reason for this is as a direct consequence of the tens of thousands of man hours of work that have been invested in the various Synergy products in recent years. But also it is with the realization that there is more work still to be done, because the goal posts just got moved in a fairly significant way. But … because of where we know we are now, where we now know we need to be actually doesn’t seem that far away … WOW!

There are exciting times ahead … there are challenges also, but I firmly believe that we’re on the right track.

If you’re interested in the future of Windows then I would strongly recommend that you watch the keynote speech from todays conference, you can find it and many other interesting videos here:

http://www.buildwindows.com

By the way, I am writing this post on my new Samsung Windows 8 “Slate” PC. Those who know me would tell you that I develop on Windows, and Unix, and Linux, and OpenVMS … but I’m an Apple guy at heart. I have an iPhone, and an iPad, and a couple of Macs … and I LOVE those things. But … I think that Microsoft Windows 8 might just change the world. It’s an operating system for the PC, and that PC might just be a Slate (tablet). The point is that today I was convinced that the best of both worlds really can be built into one operating system that can run equally well on different types of devices. I LOVE my iPad but I can’t run hundreds of thousands of existing desktop apps on it, and despite good intentions iOS is jus WAY too restrictive. What Microsoft showed us and gave us today is really cool … it’s a tablet, but it’s also a PC … WOW!


Windows 8 and Screen Resolution

By Steve Ives, Posted on September 8, 2011 at 4:10 pm

If you’re thinking of purchasing a new laptop, or a new flat-panel monitor for your desktop PC, you might want to think a carefully about the resolution of the screen that you select. Because if you’re purchasing new hardware now, you’re likely to want to run Windows 8 on that hardware before the end of its useful life.

According to early information from Microsoft, both the resolution and aspect ratio of the screen will become more important if you want to be able to take advantage of all of the new features available in the new Metro UI.

For the best experience with Windows 8, and in order to be able to take advantage of all of the new Metro UI features, you need a wide-screen with a 16 x 9 aspect ratio and a minimum pixel resolution of 1366 x 768. If your system meets or exceeds these specifications then you should be in good shape, and most will.

However, if your display does not have a wide-screen aspect ratio then you won’t be able to use all of the features of the Windows 8 Metro UI. Specifically the “Snap” feature which allows two “tailored” metro applications (or one tailored application and the traditional Windows Aero desktop) to be docked side-by-side will not be available. By the way, the term tailored application seems to be what Microsoft are using to refer to apps designed to take advantage of the Metro UI under Windows 8. I can’t help wondering if the choice of this term is to make us lowly software developers think that we just need to do a little “tailoring” here and there to support the new UI … in the same way that cell-based applications had to be “tailored a little” to move to Windows under UI Toolkit! Time will tell I guess.

By the way … don’t confuse the windows 8 “Snap” feature with another feature that they introduced in Windows 7 called … “Snap”!!! Although similar, they are not the same thing. Note that the Windows 7 desktop snap feature will still work on the traditional desktop, even if your system doesn’t support the Windows 8 Snap feature. All very confusing!

Finally, although uncommon some netbook PC’s are equipped with displays with less than 768 vertical pixels (e.g. 1024 x 600). Apparently displays this small will not support the new Metro UI at all, although the traditional Windows Aero UI will still work on these systems.

This information was taken from a video of a Microsoft event for various hardware partners which was held during the Computex 2011 in Taipei during early June 2011. If you’re interested in the full video, I’ve embedded it below.


Building Windows 8

By Steve Ives, Posted on August 29, 2011 at 1:50 pm

As Microsoft’s new Build Windows conference draws ever closer the rumor mill about what the focus of the conference will be is gathering momentum. This is due in no small part to the fact that with the conference only two weeks away there is still no published agenda. But that doesn’t seem to have deterred people from attending, I would estimate that there are generally over 10,000 delegates at these events, and this conference has been sold out since early August!

That being said it’s not too hard to figure out from the name of the conference that the focus will be on the next version of the Windows operating system, which Microsoft have “code named” Windows 8! What might be a surprise to a lot of people however is the scale of the change that is on the way next year, because from all available information it’s looking like the default Windows 8 experience will be VERY different from anything that Windows users have experienced in the past.

This suspicion was confirmed recently when Microsoft posted a video entitled “Building Windows 8 – Video 1” on one of their development team blogs. The video was also uploaded to YouTube, and I’ve embedded it in this post … take a look:

As you can see the default Windows 8 experience is very different, and is sure to bring some new challenges for developers who want to deploy applications that take advantage of the new capabilities of the platform. From Microsoft’s demonstration it is clear that traditional Windows applications will continue to be supported, so there is no need to panic, but as software developers we all need to be thinking about how a change of this magnitude could affect our businesses.

For some time now Microsoft has touted WPF and Silverlight as the flagship technologies of choice for building UI’s for .NET applications. But with Windows 8 is all that about to change? The video makes it clear that the primary UI technologies used to build Windows 8 applications are HTML5 and JavaScript, neither of which have a particularly strong toolset presence in Visual Studio 2010. So for many of the developers at the Build Windows conference the main question will be “what’s new in Visual Studio 2012 and .NET Framework 4.5 that will help me build applications for Windows 8?”.

Clearly Microsoft believe that mobile and tablet devices are going to become far more predominant in the future, and are actively planning for this by merging the various operating systems that are used on the various types of computing platforms. And of course they are not alone in this endeavor as Apple’s recent release of OS X Lion also somewhat takes this approach, although not quite to such a radical degree.

Of course there is another group of people who also have a bunch of work to do, and that’s the hardware vendors. If Windows 8 is to be successful one would assume that the default for personal computer and laptop screens will need to change to be predominantly touch-enabled devices. While it is clearly stated in the video that the new UI will work just fine with a mouse and a keyboard, I for one am very skeptical about how WELL it will work in that mode! And of course the availability of the hardware is only a part of the story … we must also consider how long it will take companies to replace existing hardware with new touch-sensitive devices.

Now don’t get me wrong … I’m not suggesting for one minute that there will be a big rush to do so, and I’m absolutely suggesting that a major change of this type could take many years … but for some of us, with certain types of applications, in certain market places, adopting these new capabilities could offer significant rewards.

By the way, I’m not a betting man but I’d lay good money on the fact that there will be a setting to disable the new Windows 8 UI in favor of reverting to Windows 7’s Aero UI, and I’d also be comfortable predicting that many corporations will be doing just that. So again, don’t panic! While the new UI may make for a fabulous demo, and may be a fantastic way of interacting with photos and videos, and browsing the web, will it really provide a suitable platform for presenting business software to commercial users? Actually, in some cases the answer will be a resounding YES … but in other cases the more traditional approach to presenting applications will continue to be far more appropriate.

Of course in order for Synergy developers to be ready for Windows 8, Synergex must be ready first. I will be attending the Build Windows conference, as will three of my colleagues from the Synergy Development team. We’ll do our best to keep you informed about what we learn.

By the way, if you’re interested in keeping track of what’s going on with Windows 8 then a good place to start is Microsoft Development’s Building Windows 8 BLOG. The blog has some interesting articles, and already has several more videos discussing these new features.


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