I was asked the other day to contribute to an article by 148Apps.com about my angle on the Apple App Store. The App Store has recently turned 5 years old, and it was where it all started for indie developers on mobile. Myself, I have not been on the App Store from the beginning, but opted to focus more on the Windows Phone Marketplace, which I never regretted as I have said in previous blogs. This does not mean that I have not published on other marketplaces and that I don’t have an opinion about them of course:)
You can read my thoughts, along with fellow developers thoughts about the App Store by heading to the 148Apps article page and reading the article itself, titled “App Store Fifth Anniversary: The Ups and Downs of iOS Publishing”.
After their announcement and launch late last year, Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 RT now seem to grow up with the 8.1 update. Microsoft did go to great lengths to innovate on the tablet side, with a whole new platform-within-a-platform, the Metro (yes I think I will call it that thank you very much) interface, alongside the traditional Windows desktop. Windows 8 RT is a subset of the whole Windows 8 Pro experience, with certain advantages and disadvantages, and this is what I am going to focus on today. Many people I’ve talked to recently, don’t even realize there is a difference between the 2 versions of the OS (a communication fail for Microsoft this one), so I think I will start by pointing them out.
Windows 8 Pro is the whole package. You get everything you had with Windows 7, the desktop running all apps you used to run, including your Photoshop and Illustrator, Visual Studio and all Windows games. On top of that, the start menu has been replaced with a whole new platform, Metro (ok ok, aka Modern UI). It’s not just a start menu replacement though, it has its own ecosystem with full screen apps, available to every user through a centralized market place (the Windows Store). Windows 8 Pro, being a full version of Windows, requires the usual suspects when it comes to hardware, x86 processors and traditional PC hardware. The advantages of this version are of course full compatibility with everything Windows and even better performance than Windows 7 while running them. The disadvantages are hotter operation and lower battery life compared to a “traditional” tablet as well as much higher prices (since we are talking about full blown PCs).
Windows RT is a subset of the whole package. It focuses on the Metro platform and can run essentially only apps downloaded from the Windows Store. This is closer to the experience you would get with another platform running on a tablet, like the iPad or Android tablets. On top of that, it provides several advantages compared to them. It always includes a free version of the whole office suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint 2013 and with the 8.1 update, Outlook 2013 is also included), running on a traditional desktop environment. The desktop also runs the usual tools, like the file explorer we all know and love. While the desktop exists, in practice the user is limited to the apps listed above and cannot really install any new desktop apps. Other advantages of using a Windows 8 RT tablet instead of the iPad is the openness that naturally comes with Windows, like USB ports that can connect to any printer, mouse, USB stick, external USB hard discs etc. Thankfully, the Windows ecosystem provides excellent driver support and the multiple hardware manufacturers that create Windows 8 RT tablets provide different options covering every need. There are Windows 8 RT tablets with keyboard attachments, with SD card slots, with 3G or 4G (and even if they are not, the solution is a 4G USB modem away – do that on an iPad) etc. This version os Windows does not run on “traditional” PC hardware architectures, like Windows 8 Pro, but rather on ARM based architectures much like the other tablets on the market. The advantages of using Windows 8 RT are much longer battery life, much cooler operation, much lower prices and usually a much thinner and lighter package. The disadvantages are of course lack of compatibility with Windows desktop apps.
The Windows Store has recently surpassed 100k apps, which shows that the platform has a future. The main disadvantage right now are not the apps though, but the relatively slow devices and the still-optimizing RT OS. The 8.1 updates shows great promise, and even the Preview which I installed on a Samsumg Ativ Tab RT device nearly transformed it, both in term of functionality (hello Outlook 2013!) and responsiveness. The constant updating of the OS as well as new devices with much faster ARM processors (where are you Surface RT 2?) will remedy these issues and I expect great things from this platform. It is not for everyone though. People who love their iPads because all they need is Facebook and Angry Birds, may not care much. But having travelled with my Surface RT, I can tell you that having the option to run Office on your tablet, with a real keyboard and mouse to match, gives a totally different value to the device. Also, the full external hardware support (including the 360 controller, printers, 4G modems etc.) opens up all kind of possibilities. Not to mention the integration with Microsoft’s ecosystem, which I have talked about before.
The Greek government closed down the historic public television and radio network ERT in 6 hours bypassing the parliament for one more time. They are threatening anyone and everyone that broadcasts ERT journalists’ broadcast after the shutdown. The European Broadcasting Union in Geneva, Switzerland decided to be one of the rebroadcasters.
Well I am back from Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona and I had lots of fun. Met some nice people, learned a lot and saw a lot. I can now say that at least for apps and games for mobile, I feel like I have a new perspective on many things. Let’s see how well this will help me in future games.
Here are some pictures I took with my Lumia 920 during the MWC 2013 week.
Tomorrow morning I will be leaving for Barcelona to attend this year’s Mobile World Congress. MWC is of course the biggest event for all things mobile in the world and this will be the first time I attend it. After attending last year’s Build in Redmond, WA and Microsoft Partner Conference the year before in LA, CA I guess I am getting the hang of going to big technology related and non-academic conferences for the first time :) After finishing my PhD last year, this seems like the next best thing, since I’ve been to quite a few academic conferences during my studying time anyway.
So back to Barcelona, MWC will take place between February 25 and February 28 in a new venue, not that I knew the old venue. The new venue is called Fira Fran Via which is apparently an awesome state of the art event space. I am sure the venue cannot possible beat being to Microsoft’s HQ building complex in November, but I’ve been to Barcelona 3 times already and I like the city and the people, so at least it will be much closer to where I live (no more crossing the Atlantic ocean – yey) and in Europe for a change.
I will arrive on Sunday and attend the Mobile Sunday event, where apparently will be lots of cool people and free beer tasting. The event will begin at 6pm, look for me there if you want to meet up and discuss games over beers (what better way is there?). I will be wearing my MonsterUp t-shirt if it’s not too cold:) I will try to where these everywhere (I have a few of them) so you can find me:)
On Monday I will be attending Nokia’s separate event all day long. There is a keynote at 11am where I hope we get to see all new shiny awesome Lumia phones and (why not) the first Nokia tablet. That would be awesome ;) There are quite a few interesting sessions throughout the day, including game development sessions which I will make sure not to miss (in both Track 1 and Track 2) but the main thing I will try to do is talk to Nokia people about working with them for more Lumia games from Karios Games.
Tuesday will be a bit more relaxed. I think about going to Connected Living and Clicksoftware sessions about HTML5. I already have a couple of games on Facebook and Chrome Store using HTML5 so there might be a few things to learn there.
On Wednesday there are a few interesting things. I will try to attend the Generation ‘M’ session as well as the App Planet Open Forum. After the congress, I will also try to be at WIPJam and Mobile Mixology parties. They are not very close to each other but I will do my best!
Finally, Thursday is going to be WIP-ADC day. Many interesting topics there so I will most likely spend the whole day attending these. After this, straight to the airport.
So if you are there, drop a line! I will try to tweet and otherwise write about the event here and on my twitter account (@marioskar) so if you are interested about WMC, make sure to follow me!