A unified experience for every device
Everything Microsoft has announced with regard to Metro apps resembles a smartphone ecosystem. Users will purchase and download Metro apps from the Windows Store. App purchases and data will be linked to their Windows Live accounts -- much like how a Google account is the locus for apps for Android and Chrome and an Apple ID is for iOS apps, media purchases, iCloud sharing, and even Mac apps. In the case of Windows 8, apps can even follow users from PC to PC.
In fact, Metro more than resembles a smartphone ecosystem. It is part of a specific smartphone ecosystem: Windows Phone.
Visual Studio 11 Express lets developers create both Metro apps and Windows Phone apps from the same base code.
That's the real genius of this strategy. In his Build conference keynote address, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bragged that no platform other than Windows can ship 350 million units. If they upgrade to Windows 8, those 350 million users will boot into a UI that looks and behaves exactly like Windows Phone, whether or not they're aware of it. They will run apps that are exactly like ones that run on Windows Phone handsets and tablets. Microsoft still won't have a single OS and user experience that spans every device, from PCs to smartphones -- not really -- but it will seem to.
For developers, this is even more significant. A few days ago, Windows Phone was the also-ran of smartphone platforms. But today, building apps using Microsoft's tools means not just reaching the handful of customers who have bought Windows phones so far but potentially 350 million Windows users as well, to say nothing of the customers who might soon be buying Windows phones because of their familiarity with Metro. That's huge.
So while I still don't really care for Metro as a user, it might grow on me. As a developer, however, I don't have to like Metro to recognize the massive opportunity it presents.
This article, "Windows 8 and Microsoft's big gamble," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Neil McAllister's Fatal Exception blog and follow the latest news in programming at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.