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My Biggest Problem With Windows 8? App Developers

Posted by on October 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Do I really need Hulu Plus to play Parenthood in a native app instead of a Chrome window? Really?

I’ve been using Windows 8 for approximately fourteen hours already and I have to say I’m enjoying my experience, in a ‘this is crazy awesome to explore’ as well as a ‘this makes things so much easier’ way. There are definitely some downsides to the OS, like, ‘where the hell is this setting?’ and ‘stop doing that!’, but I’m finding my way around these for the most part as I get used to the new operating system’s quirks. My biggest issue with Windows 8 doesn’t really have to do with the OS, it has to do with the developers making apps for it. Or rather, not making apps for it.

If you’re not familiar with Windows 8, here’s the gist: it’s very different. This isn’t some iterative step where the Start menu is now a blue orb with a Windows flag or some small tweak where settings got moved around, this is completely different. The core Windows 8 experience is the Modern UI-themed experience you see above with fast-moving, colorful tiles, which is something I fell in love with pretty much immediately. Imagine a concise phone-style home screen, but on your PC, where you can access everything you want pretty quickly. The traditional desktop that you’ve known and loved forever is reduced to its own app, which leads to the heart of the issue. Any legacy app or program you have? Sure, Windows 8 will generate a shortcut for it on your Start screen, but when it runs, you’ll actually hop into the desktop app and use it there, like an app within an app. To fault Microsoft to a degree, if you download an executable in the native Google Chrome app, the OS fails to inform you to go back to the desktop to use it.

The reality is simple: Microsoft wants you to use the desktop as little as possible. In fact, I’m sure they’re more than happy to ditch it in Windows 9 entirely, but they needed it to maintain legacy support, at least in Windows 8 Pro (I still can’t fathom why they’d include it in Windows RT for tablets, but okay!). In fact, the more you use Windows 8, the less you’ll want to use the desktop and opt for the native app wherever available.

But, they’re not available. Hardly any of them are.

Yeah, you’ve got Netflix and Skype, fantastic, but there are so few apps here that it boggles the mind, somewhere around 5,000? It’s a ridiculously small amount and you feel it immediately. Now, we can sit here and blame Windows 8 all day, but what the hell happened, developers? You’ve had access to this kit for, what, a year? There’s no Kindle app, which is on every device on the planet already, there’s no Spotify app, there are no native productivity apps, and all of this is boggling because everyone knew Microsoft was going to sell millions of copies of this OS. If someone made a decent Windows 8 app right now, they’d be making bank since there’s absolutely no competition.

Hopefully, these companies will start to deploy resources to begin building native apps for Windows 8, but until then it’s just a frustrating tickbox on the Windows 8 review.

UPDATE: Doug pointed out that a Kindle app does exist, but for whatever reason, my searches last night didn’t bring it up. Hmmm. Corrected.

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