Splashtop's new app brings Windows 8 UI to iPad

Splashtop allows developers to test Windows 8 functionality on the iPad, though a PC is needed as well

Splashtop on Thursday released a new tablet application that replicates the Windows 8 touch-driven Metro user interface on the iPad, which should help developers test applications for Microsoft's next OS without investing in a Windows tablet.

The "Win8 Metro Testbed -- powered by Splashtop" remote desktop application provides a way for developers to test gestures and functionality of their Windows 8 applications on the iPad. The app replicates the Windows 8 UI, and developers will be able to test specific touch-driven applications.

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For example, users will be able to test a touch-driven Windows 8 game like pinball on their iPad. The app also delivers full sound and graphics to enhance the testing experience. The testbed also provides the ability to swipe between or view specific menus in programs such as Internet Explorer. Users can also pinch to navigate files, folders, programs and data.

However, while users don't need a Windows 8 tablet, the app still requires a PC running Microsoft's upcoming OS as well as Splashtop's Streamer software. The Windows 8 PC streams the user interface to the iPad over Wi-Fi and the Internet.

Microsoft made the Windows 8 OS Consumer Preview client available for download in late February. The OS is optimized for touch, while the current Windows 7 is more viewed as a desktop OS retrofitted with touch capabilities. Some Windows 7 tablets such as Hewlett-Packard's Slate with x86 chips are capable of running Windows 8, but the wildly popular iPad could provide a good testing ground.

There is also growing interest in making applications accessible across tablet operating systems. Bluestacks recently released an application called App Player, which is an emulator that allows Android applications to run on Windows 7, Vista and XP operating systems.

Worldwide tablet sales are expected to reach 118.9 million units this year, according to a survey released this week by Gartner. Apple will dominate the market with 73 million units, while tablets running on Google's Android OS will total about 37.9 million units. Microsoft's Windows 8 will be coming out later this year, and the new OS will likely bite into Android tablet sales instead of Apple's iPad, Forrester Research said last year.

The Win9 Metro testbed app is available on Apple's App Store, at a "promotional" price of $24.99. The actual price is $49.99, Splashtop said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's email address is agam_shah@idg.com.

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