back to article One Windows? How does that work... and WTF is a Universal App?

“Whether it’s building a game, or a line of business application, there’ll be one way to write a universal application that targets the entire product family,” said Microsoft Executive VP Terry Myerson, announcing Windows 10 yesterday. One Windows: Windows 10 will be delivered on multiple device types One Windows: Windows 10 …

  1. Pypes
    Stop

    Forget it lads, you're 10 years too late to copy Apples business model, and 20 years too late to change what people expect from a windows operating system.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "One Windows? How does that work"

      Presumably much like Linux everywhere works - except Windows has the slight advantage of being entirely modular in design from the ground up versus the more monolithic approach of Linux.

      1. Gordon 11

        One Windows? How does that work
        Probably like HTML and @media-based style-sheets.

        You write the content, and the system libraries have various presentation methods dependent on "mode". It's not rocket science.

        1. Semaj

          No, it's much worse than that.

          You just get a project per platform and the UI for that platform goes in there.

          You can handle the sizing stuff in code but its a pain and very much a manual process.

          Honestly, if you want something actually cross platform - just build a website.

      2. joeldillon

        I would be interested to know why you consider Windows as being 'entirely modular in design' and 'Linux' (as opposed to a given Linux distro) not.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "I would be interested to know why you consider Windows as being 'entirely modular in design' and 'Linux' (as opposed to a given Linux distro) not."

          Linux is based on a legacy monolithic kernel design - everything bolted together at compilation time. Windows is based on a more advanced hybrid microkernel model - meaning that kernel and other modules (not just drivers) can be loaded and unloaded dynamically.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Linux is based on a legacy monolithic kernel design - everything bolted together at compilation time. Windows is based on a more advanced hybrid microkernel model - meaning that kernel and other modules (not just drivers) can be loaded and unloaded dynamically.

            That sounds like something from a salesperson, than from an engineer, by glossing over facts, using throw-away words, generating conclusions to favour your owner. "oh gosh, Linux is monolithic.. we'd better not use it" sigh.

            Linux is, in fact, a modular monolithic kernel. You can load and unload modules on the fly. You can even compile those modules so they're part of the kernel.

            I'm a Windows user, and even I know that.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Linux is based on a legacy monolithic kernel design - everything bolted together at compilation time. Windows is based on a more advanced hybrid microkernel model - meaning that kernel and other modules (not just drivers) can be loaded and unloaded dynamically.

            Ooooh, lots of fun words to play with. Quite a lot of NLP hiding in there, so let me unpick this.

            "a LEGACY monolithic kernel" - BS. If you want legacy, see how long EDLIN.EXE was carried in Windows. Secondly, I started using Linux when it still came on 14 floppies as Slackware and yes, in those days you have to compile a bespoke kernel. However, it's actually a very long time ago I compiled my last because it's all about runtime insertion of modules now. It appears your knowledge of Linux is, umm, a tiny bit out of date.

            "Windows is based on a more advanced hybrid microkernel model" - "more advanced" is clear BS. The day MS leads the IT field in anything but the novelty of its security leaks I'll have a party. MS never leads, it always follows and copies. It has to, because every time it *cough* "innovates" *cough* it does so in ways that are simply disastrous, and in ways that prevent rollback. I'm also not so convinced about all this "dynamic" stuff you talk about, no doubt a word the marketing department insisted you put in there. Windows is still the OS that gave us the reboot to fix it all, and frankly, I don't think you've caught all the memory leaks yet or you wouldn't need Patch Tuesday.

            Last but not least "hybrid"? Trying to surf along on the eco wave? Hybrid of what? All I can think of is incompetence and greed, but I don't think you meant that.

            Again a nice bit of word play - all talk and no substance. We're getting a lot of that lately, which is a compliment for The Register IMHO as it appears people have been specifically tasked to talk up MS here. I really feel sorry for you. Well, a few seconds that is.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "The day MS leads the IT field in anything but the novelty of its security leaks I'll have a party. "

              Like it's SSL stack and Shell for instance? Oh, wait...

              MS never leads, it always follows and copies."

              Actually Linux has copied far more features from Windows than Windows ever has from Linux. For instance - Per processor cache lists, Granular ACLs (NFS 4.1), Application Control (SEL), etc, etc.

          3. Gordon 11

            Windows is based on a more advanced hybrid microkernel model - meaning that kernel and other modules (not just drivers) can be loaded and unloaded dynamically.

            That would be "hybrid microkernel" as in "not a real micro-kernel at all"?

            I remember going to a presentation about this back in the mid-90's. The presentation was by DEC - as at that time Windows NT was going to run on multiple CPU architectures and DEC were keen to be involved. That turned out to be a useful and relevant as the "micro-kernel".

            The only really useful thing from that day was a cotton bag they handed out, which is still doing sturdy service to handle my Waitrose shopping. Now that is good re-use of "soft"-ware.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Both Windows and Linux are monolithic kernels

              Being able to load/unload drivers don't make a microkernel. Having drivers run in userspace is (one of several) minimum requirement for a microkernel. Neither do that, both run drivers in kernel mode. Microsoft doesn't even make the display driver loadable, they gave up on that back in the early NT days because it hurt performance, and paid for it with years of BSODs until the display drivers got more stable.

              Calling Windows a "hybrid kernel" is laughable, there is no such thing. That's like saying "she's partially pregnant". You either have a microkernel or a monolithic kernel, there is no in-between except for Microsoft apologists who don't want to admit that the original NT concept of a microkernel was never realized because they couldn't make it perform well.

              If Windows has a hybrid kernel then OS X's / iOS's XNU a microkernel by comparison. At least it uses a few more microkernel features like message passing instead of shared address spaces. But it doesn't qualify as a microkernel either.

              The only true microkernel in mass market PCs / mobile devices I'm aware of is the L4 microkernel running on the security co-processor in the iPhone 5S / 6. That's only because for security purposes you want the privileged portion to be as tiny as possible, and L4 is certainly tiny, and the performance penalty of a microkernel isn't a concern for this use case.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Both Windows and Linux are monolithic kernels

                "Calling Windows a "hybrid kernel" is laughable, there is no such thing"

                Clearly you have absolutely no knowledge of the subject.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_kernel

                The best known example of a hybrid kernel is the Microsoft NT kernel that powers all operating systems in the Windows NT family, up to and including Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012, and powers Windows Phone 8. NT-based Windows is classified as a hybrid kernel (or a macrokernel) rather than a monolithic kernel because the emulation subsystems run in user-mode server processes, rather than in kernel mode as on a monolithic kernel, and further because of the large number of design goals which resemble design goals of Mach (in particular the separation of OS personalities from a general kernel design). Conversely, the reason NT is not a microkernel system is because most of the system components run in the same address space as the kernel, as would be the case with a monolithic design (in a traditional monolithic design, there would not be a microkernel per se, but the kernel would implement broadly similar functionality to NT's microkernel and kernel-mode subsystems).

              2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                Re: Both Windows and Linux are monolithic kernels

                You either have a microkernel or a monolithic kernel

                Rubbish. Modular kernels with dynamic loading are by no stretch of the imagination microkernels, but there's a wide range of kernel architectures between micro and monolithic. Modular kernels are a tremendous step forward from monolithic kernels like SVR3 and BSD 4. Less useful, but still not monolithic, are the older partitioned kernels with driver and services layers, like AIX 1 and 2 for the PC RT and the original HAL-based Windows NT. And then there are other variations, like the "library OS" design that builds a custom special-purpose kernel on the fly when a VM spins up.

                There are microkernels and things that are not microkernels, but to label the latter category "monolithic" robs that term of all meaning.

              3. Jes.e

                Re: Both Windows and Linux are monolithic kernels

                There is a consumer device which DOES use a micro-kernel.

                Blackberry 10 devices use QNX.

        2. P. Lee

          > would be interested to know why you consider Windows as being 'entirely modular in design' and 'Linux' (as opposed to a given Linux distro) not.

          Especially since windows needs a reboot to update it's web browser application, never mind the kernel.

          I've also noticed updating Word on a Mac requires you to shut down firefox, chrome and safari. Now that's "special."

      3. oldcoder

        Except for the fact that Linux ALREADY runs in more places than Windows.

        "There is no such thing as portable software, only software that has been ported."

        And Linux does work.

      4. Maventi

        "Presumably much like Linux everywhere works"

        Indeed it does!

        "except Windows has the slight advantage of being entirely modular in design from the ground up versus the more monolithic approach of Linux."

        This is an irrelevant (and debatable; see above) detail regarding the kernel itself. If it were significant then I'd be seeing Windows on things like my ADSL router instead Linux.

        What is significant is that most popular operating systems built around the Linux kernel are entirely modular and built from the ground up using packages (e.g. RPM, Debian). This provides a level of modularity that Windows could only ever dream of and it makes software installation and patching a breeze.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Windows is NOT modular!

        ..unless you consider a mass of rocks and sticks held together with duct tape a *modular architecture*.

  2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    Also, my desktop is my fortress. I don't want to be giving my account information, search results, backup of my profile and $deity knows what else to a bunch of Americans. I want my privacy, damn it. The desktop does not need to be "cloud enabled".

    1. Test Man

      Then don't enable it. And stop complaining.

      1. Archaon

        Precisely. They give you the option to turn it off, if you don't like it, use the button to switch it off. Complain when they don't give you that option.

        The only thing that irritates me is that when disabled the Skydrive icon won't sod off.

        1. Paul Shirley

          " Complain when they don't give you that option."

          NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Complain NOW before they try taking it away.

          Apparently already forgotten how willing MS are to remove features then drag their feet waiting for users to give up complaining... it's like Win8 never happened. Still annoyed that XP SP2 reduced access to all the RAM on a 4Gb+ system.

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      I am using Windows 10 right now. And despite there being an option to disable this stuff during setup, it is both re-enabled and greyed out in windows proper. Half the privacy controls are missing and I am seeing quite a lot of traffic streaming to Microsoft-held servers that I explicitly didn't authorize.

      So fuck your simplistic world view, fanboy. I'll stop complaining when they act with honour.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " I am using Windows 10 right now."

        Well at least its got to be better than trying to use Linux on the desktop.

        "And despite there being an option to disable this stuff during setup, it is both re-enabled and greyed out in windows proper. "

        So what - it's Alpha code - they probably need to test that it works. Or it might be a bug. Come back crying if it's like that in production. Which we all know it won't be as Microsoft never enable stuff like this by default in final release software and always ask you first. If you want to complain about spyware by design and by default you need to look at a Google product...

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          "Microsoft never enable stuff like this by default in final release software "

          Bullshit. Install Windows 8 and just skip the customization at install. It's all on and streaming your life to them, 24/7. Despite your love of that company, they are emphatically not honourable. They just put hundreds of millions of dollars into deflecting the discussion about privacy - and the selfsame data collection techniques and tactics used by Microsoft - onto their competition.

          “Mind Control: To control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!” From one of Microsoft's own documents: http://techrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/comes-3096.pdf

          Sorry, but I believe what my packet sniffer says, not marketing. And I'm seeing rather more traffic out of my 8.1 VM than I authorized too. And I just did a default install. Hmm. Even after defanging the thing as extensively as I know how, I've obviously missed something, because it's calling the mothership from time to time.

          But it's all good, hmm? Because it's Microsoft?

          Sorry, but no beans. On the whole, I mostly like Windows 10. (Despite the now 48 feedback items I've logged about various bugs and nit picks about the UI.) Or, at least, I only hate it about as much as I hate Windows 7, once all the customization is done.

          But the privacy thing...that's a no go. There's a lot more going on here than in Windows 7, and there are no obvious ways to kill it.

          Google, for all their sins, give you one single location to see everything they collect on you and to delete it, opt out or quit the service. It's time Microsoft did this. And at the end of the day, I don't care whether or not you agree. My privacy isn't for sale, and it certainly won't be a coin paid in the name of your brand tribalism.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "Install Windows 8 and just skip the customization at install. It's all on and streaming your life to them, 24/7."

            I assume you mean the Express Settings option - that displays a warning in large text in the middle of the screen that tells you very clearly and specifically that if you continue it will "help improve Microsoft software, services and location services by sending us info" if you continue - so it's not on unless you agree to it. It's not exactly buried in an EULA, etc.

            "Google, for all their sins, give you one single location to see everything they collect on you and to delete it, opt out or quit the service. It's time Microsoft did this"

            There are only two locations - Under Settings Privacy > General and Search and apps > Search if you don't want your searches sent to Bing. Not exactly challenging to disable if you mislaid your tin foil hat.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              It doesn't matter if they "display a warning" or not. Your claim was that they didn't enable it by default. They do, and you're full of shit.

              As for your "disable in two places" tripe, it's funny how even if you disable that stuff - when the OS lets you disable it, that is - the damned thing still calls home. There are more knobs than just those, because Microsoft reports more than just your searches. (Not that disabling those seems to stop it from communicating when you search, but I digress.)

              No tinfoil hat is required. Microsoft flat out doesn't give a rat's ass about privacy. And they won't, either, unless we make them.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                " the damned thing still calls home. "

                Only to check for updates and certificate revocation, etc.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "From one of Microsoft's own documents: http://techrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/comes-3096.pdf"

            Thank you for that. It confirms what we already know, and have experienced on this very forum.

            1. dogged

              It does? It was published in September 2000. Every molecule in your body has been replaced since then and I think it's fair to say (given products on different platforms and the ongoing open-sourcing of many of their developer tools and other stuff) that Microsoft are a very different company in 2014.

              But no worries.

              Hey Trev, while you're here, maybe you could complain about MS beginning to bundle IE in the OS? That only happened in 1995, it's practically the same vintage as your document.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                "I think it's fair to say (given products on different platforms and the ongoing open-sourcing of many of their developer tools and other stuff) that Microsoft are a very different company in 2014"

                I don't think it's fair to say that at all. Their corporate culture really hasn't changed much at all since then, with the exception of a minor focus on security...but they all just got fired. Now security is the responsibility of the same people under pressure to deliver to deadline. Which is going backwards into the 90s, thanks.

                Nadella's good people, and I honestly believe he's trying to change things for the better, but he just doesn't have the cloud. He's fighting vicious piranhas in the board room and his own executives - none of which are his lieutenants, you'll remember - who are all devoted to protect their empires at all costs.

                Microsoft is still very much Ballmer's baby, with Bill's hands deep in the pie, as it was throughout Ballmer's reign. It will be years yet - if it's even possible - before that changes. And Windows 8.2 (now 10) is not something that bears Nadella's personal mark.

                Ad for the bundling of IE, I never had a problem with including it in the OS. I did have a problem with building other OS components such that they depended on it. (Windows Update, etc.) It's still a problem. In fact, I have 9 separate bug reports in on Windows 10 right now about elements of the OS that seem to call IE, despite my desire to banish the thing from my sight, and it not being the default browser.

                For example: that integrated search shit I can't turn off? Why is it calling IE, when Firefox is my default browser? More to the point, why is it calling Metro IE? There's something broken there.

                Funny, isn't it, how those problems from so long ago are still problems. Especially is Microsoft were the "good guy" company you and others so often make them out to be.

                They are the product of their history. Good and bad. And change in that company is very, very slow.

                1. Lars Silver badge
                  Happy

                  "They are the product of their history". Indeed, it all started when Windows was let loose on the internet.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  "Ad for the bundling of IE, I never had a problem with including it in the OS. I did have a problem with building other OS components such that they depended on it. (Windows Update, etc.) It's still a problem. In fact, I have 9 separate bug reports in on Windows 10 right now about elements of the OS that seem to call IE, despite my desire to banish the thing from my sight, and it not being the default browser."

                  No change from Windows7 then ...

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                It was published in September 2000... Microsoft are a very different company in 2014.

                They certainly have changed - before, they had a monopoly - now they're a desperate underdog. Oh yes, since then the "evangelism" has grown beyond a few "keen users" to entire divisions. Google it.

                1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                  "Oh yes, since then the "evangelism" has grown beyond a few "keen users" to entire divisions. Google it."

                  And what they're willing to pay! My lordy; but it were tempting.

              3. Anonymous Bullard

                open-sourcing of many of their developer tools and other stuff

                Most if it isn't really OSS, it's a "look, but don't touch" un-compilable reference.

                They had to do something in order to remain vaguely relevant to developers (plus anything in .NET is decompilable anyway). I do appreciate the very little they've done, however. I won't begrudge them credit for it, the few decent MS devs must have lobbied hard for that. (Although it's funny how you get the MS-only nerds whining how shite OSS is, when at the same time MS are convincing them they're now an OSS company)

                Their "real" products, however, are still as closed tight as a nun's crunt. VS? Office? NTFS? IE? No chance!

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  RE: Their "real" products, however, are still as closed tight as a ...

                  Anonymous Bullard:

                  "Their "real" products, however, are still as closed tight as a nun's crunt. VS? Office? NTFS? IE? No chance!"

                  This is very true, and I am not fooled by it.

                  I am, however, continuously surprised at the amount of tech people (not meaning you, sir/madam, as I don't know your stance) who seem to give Google a free pass on this self-same issue. The Chocolate Factory are cool guys who do OSS - apart from anything that matters like the Search/Ad stuff that provides over 90% of their revenue and for which they don't even reveal the exact algorithms let alone the code.

                  Again, this is not to excuse MS but rather to use the opening to remind readers about the real nature of Google too.

                  1. Anonymous Bullard

                    Re: RE: Their "real" products, however, are still as closed tight as a ...

                    The Chocolate Factory are cool guys who do OSS - apart from anything that matters like the Search/Ad stuff that provides over 90% of their revenue and for which they don't even reveal the exact algorithms let alone the code.

                    Well, since you mention it, I do prefer that Google aren't afraid of releasing the source of their developer tools, and aren't afraid of using external and existing OSS tools too. I'm not interested in their code for their "services", because my code doesn't depend on it (I don't call it, or have the need to debug it). Likewise, I don't need to see Bing's code.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Google, for all their sins, give you one single location to see everything they collect on you and to delete it, opt out or quit the service.

            Nope. From their Terms of Service, topic "Your contents in our Services":

            Some of our Services allow you to upload, submit, store, send or receive content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

            So far so good - I'm going to skip a few bits to get to the fun part which contradicts those wonderful words:

            When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps).

            Not so good - they just rephrased the word "perpetuity" because people started to pick up on it, and their description of "limited" is rather all encompassing IMHO.

            Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services.

            You try and find a service with a more limited data grab. Good luck finding it.

            Google is IMHO evil - it just talks nice. It learned that trick from Microsoft, but in my opinion even Microsoft never dared venture where Google walks in with hobnailed boots. Beware.

          4. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I know, I know, I'm ignoring the 'Do Not Feed' sign

          "Well at least its got to be better than trying to use Linux on the desktop."

          If you find desktop Linux difficult I suggest the problem is your own mental capacity, perhaps you should just stay on the sofa watching 'Maury'.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I know, I know, I'm ignoring the 'Do Not Feed' sign

            "If you find desktop Linux difficult "

            It's still much more of a pain than current Windows versions. Sure most of the installation and driver issues that used to plague Linux have gone away. But want to do anything advanced? - you end up have to use primitive text editing tools editing multiple obscure complex configuration files - or have to actually build and compile the software you need from typed commands! Linux is still way way behind Windows in terms of usability for average Joe Public

        3. Nigel 11

          Linux Desktop

          Well, in a way it's nice to see that Microsoft has added multiple desktops (workspaces) to windows. Pretty late to that party - it was by no means a new idea when Linux arrived on the scene.

          As for using Linux desktop, the Linux UI is superior to the Windows UI in most regards (the exception being raw performance achieved at the expense of seriously compromising the system's security).

          So you must mean the apps. Well, they are Microsoft Proprietary. If you think they are good enough to lock yourself in to the Microsoft walled garden, that's your choice. I'd just comment that if you have a corporate Windows license, and if you don't need the ultimate raw graphics performance, I'd say the best place for Windows is running in a VM, displaying in a Linux window in a workspace on a Linux desktop.

          If nothing else, you get snapshots this way. Next time installing something borks Windows (or it gets a nasty dose of malware, or it auto-borks) just revert the VM to the most recent good snapshot. What about your recent user data, you ask? Well, if you have any sense it's on a Linux host filesystem presented to the VM as a network share. And (separately) snapshotted.

          I wonder when Windows will get something as useful and reliable as btrfs? 2030? (And yes, I am quite aware that btrfs is not fully mature yet, and there are more reliable similar filesystems out there, such as ZFS. Talking of which, ZOL is also coming along nicely).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Linux Desktop

            "So you must mean the apps. Well, they are Microsoft Proprietary"

            Not sure what 'apps' you mean - but MS Office for instance is currently by far the best platform on the market that fully supports ODF.

            "As for using Linux desktop, the Linux UI is superior to the Windows UI in most regards"

            It really isn't - Windows has far more advanced touch and gesture capabilities for instance.

            "(the exception being raw performance achieved at the expense of seriously compromising the system's security)."

            You mean using BASH presumably.

            " and if you don't need the ultimate raw graphics performance, I'd say the best place for Windows is running in a VM, displaying in a Linux window in a workspace on a Linux desktop."

            Linux is one of the least efficient, least secure, and least popular Hypervisors (KVM has a less than 1% market share). The more obvious choice for VDI (as is reflected in market share) would be to use Hyper-V Server which is totally free (including patches and support - unlike say KVM on Redhat) is much more efficient, is more scalable and has a much smaller attack surface than having to run an entire Linux install as per KVM. Or I would consider vSphere if money is no object.

            "If nothing else, you get snapshots this way"

            You already have that built into Windows. No need to add a hypervisor for that functionality.

      2. Kristian Walsh

        @Trevor

        If the general release of the software still has these restrictions when it is released, I will help you up onto that high horse you're on, but right now, it seems like you're complaining that the software is communicating with its publisher when that's exactly what they told you it was going to do.

        When you participate in anybody's "early access" programme you are a beta tester. Beta testers get early access to software in exchange for providing test and usage information to its developers. If you don't like that arrangement, then stop beta-testing the software, and wait for a review copy.

        1. SolidSquid

          Re: @Trevor

          To be fair they should have disabled the option at installation if they didn't have it working in the beta (although if it's a bug then that's fair enough). It's one thing collecting data in the beta, but if you give customer/tester the option to opt out of that collection then you really should be going along with that

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: @Trevor

            @SolidSquid it's odd. Because it's like half the controls are missing from PC Settings that I'd expect to be there, and those that are there are greyed out. Sort of what I'd expect if some sort of group policy were applied, but I can't find anything in the registry that would administratively disable it.

            What's more, there seems to an awful lot of traffic going to MS. Enough that if I was on 4G I'd be actually angry. And there doesn't seem to be a control at all do disable unified search. Hit search in the start menu and it takes you to bing, despite my explicitly disabling that during install.

            Bugs I'll accept...but these aren't new features. Windows 10 isn't a new operating system. There's nothing here but a cosmetic layer over 8.1, and a mostly unfinished one at that. There's no reason for this stuff to be broken if it was present and working in 8.1. It's not like those areas of the UI were reworked. It's all the same stuff there.

            It's just bizarre.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Thumb Down

              Fully Instrumented

              From just a basic reading of the Windows Universal Apps description, all UAs report analytics data back to Microsoft which routes to the developer. I expected that, store apps already do it. What was really cringe-worthy was reading the Get A Developers License which carries monitoring into your system. Even should you have a non-internet connected machine (you get issued your license from your domain admin), it seems you still agree to some form of local monitoring as it will revoke your license on the spot, without a connection. Okaaay!

              Definitely not letting this beast near my machines. VM, obvious, even though that fails to test the most important aspect here: H/W compatibility.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: Fully Instrumented

                @Jack of Shadows: You've solved it!

                Once I started pulling out all the store apps the constant stream of activity to Microsoft's server ceased. My next quest is to find out which of the store apps were causing this, and what, exactly, they were sending.

                Also: why some of them were sending so much data...

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: @Trevor

          @Kristian Walsh: part of testing the software is seeing what data it's collecting on you, how you have the ability to turn that off and how much of what gets turned on when you tweak the various knobs.

          I have absolutely no problem with Microsoft collecting info on my beta copy. I signed up, I know how that works. I even logged in with my Microsoft account in order to leave feedback.

          But when I go explicitly hunting to turn it all off in a separate, created for the purpose of testing that functionality, VM I should be able to do it. Ensuring privacy controls work is a critical part of ensuring that the operating system is ready for prime time. And, to me, it's far more important than making sure the graphics subsystem works, or that the Start Menu doesn't irritate me too much.

          I'm beta testing the product and there are notable bugs in how it handles privacy. I'm willing to bet Microsoft won't address them unless lawsuits are involved. Quite simply because that's what it always seems to take with them to get privacy taken seriously.

          So you'll have to excuse me if I make my fuss now, in beta, before the product goes out. That way at least there's a paper trail that says "no, actually, this was raised with you repeatedly."

          All part of the process of holding their feet to the fire. (Well, bitching on El Reg's forums is an irrelevant part of that compared to sending formal feedback through the various other channels available, but damn it, it makes me feel better.)

          1. Hellcat
            Facepalm

            Re: @Trevor

            But when I go explicitly hunting to turn it all off in a separate, created for the purpose of testing that functionality, VM I should be able to do it. Ensuring privacy controls work is a critical part of ensuring that the operating system is ready for prime time. And, to me, it's far more important than making sure the graphics subsystem works, or that the Start Menu doesn't irritate me too much.

            Perhaps that part isn't ready for testing, or is not the current test target? You seem to have forgotten who's shedule a beta runs to (reminder - it's not yours). How about you switch off that VM, and we'll tell you when it's safe to come out to play.

          2. Sean Timarco Baggaley

            Re: @Trevor

            "I have absolutely no problem with Microsoft collecting info on my beta copy."

            WHAT "beta copy"?

            Microsoft haven't released a beta version of Windows 10: there is only a Technology Preview, which means it's not even at the Alpha test stage yet. The final release is almost a year away!

            Microsoft explicitly warned you to expect "a UI design that might change significantly over time." That's copied verbatim from here. You have no excuse for not reading that section. None.

            So the GUI is clearly still a work in progress. Nothing is nailed down. Features are being added. Others might be taken away, tweaked, or replaced wholesale.

            In short: this is NOT a "beta" release.

            As you appear to be unaware of what a beta release is supposed to be, allow me to explain: a beta release—despite Google's attempts to suggest otherwise—is feature-complete, with development of new features frozen: no new features are allowed to be added to the codebase beyond this point. (Any new features that aren't in the beta are automatically kicked into the next release cycle.)

            Beta releases are the last leg of the journey towards release. Right now, Windows 10 has only just left the starting gate.

      3. Archaon
        Thumb Down

        You did not specify Windows 10, which funnily enough as one of the peons I'm yet to use. In fact you didn't even alude to running Windows. If it weren't for the context of the article I could just as easily attribute that comment to Google Drive. On that basis I made the presumption that you were referring to the 'cloudy' features of Windows 8.

        So, while I have respect for many of your writings, in this case I ask that if you're going to be a prick when someone misinterprets your post then please qualify it properly to begin with.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          I said cloud features <i.of the operating system</i>. Not stuff you voluntarily download after the fact.

          Understand me fully here: I have zero problems with targeted advertising, with unified search, with cloud storage or any of this. None. What I have a problem with - a very large, very fundamental problem with - is the integration of these items directly into the operating system.

          The OS should be as minimalistic, safe, secure and private as possible. By all means, give me an option post install to download and enable a whole host of Microsoft products and services. Pull up the Windows Store - the one element of all of this I have zero problem with being integrated into the OS, by the way - and give me a face full of Microsoft's products services and applications.

          I even think the EU can jump in a lake, and Microsoft should have no reason to display Google's stuff or Apple's stuff. It their damned OS and their damned store.

          But don't build it into the OS. If I want cloudy stuff I'll install it. I don't want it turning on without my knowing, or some GPO enabling it, or the feedback mechanism in the OS requiring me to feed them my Microsoft ID.

          And that goes for everyone else, too. Google can eat a sack of genitalia for the deep integration of cloudy crap into Android and Chrome. Apple with iOS isn't too bad, and OSX is even better. Canonical's Ubuntu Amazon Spyfest can go straight to the hot place.

          There's plenty of "damned good operating system" in Windows 10. But the cloud integration is emphatically not okay. And it would be just as not okay if it were some other company building their shit into the OS too.

          If I want your cloud crap, I'll make a conscious choice to install it and punch in my credentials. Under no circumstances should giving up one's privacy be so deeply embedded into any operating system that it's just "the flick of a switch" (or a power shell command, or a GPO) away.

          If you want to hate me as a person for believing the above, espousing the above, or demanding the above from vendors, you go right ahead. But I've no time for vendors who view privacy as an annoyance or a second class consideration, and I've less time for fanboys who give those companies a free ride when they do.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            "The OS should be as minimalistic, safe, secure and private as possible"

            Exactly.

            Coincidentally, this would make it *much* smaller, both in download and in-use footprints. The first isn't a major hassle, but the second? Don't give me 'memory is cheap' - I want that memory for my applications' data.

            Cloudiness? Pah.

      4. Phoenix50

        Are you also going to stop complaining once you've used a stable gold build of the damn thing and not a technical preview that exists solely to provide feedback to Microsoft?

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          If the damned thing works, does what it's supposed to do, doesn't have obvious privacy flaws and so forth, then absolutely. It\'ll write up a great review and talk about all the things that have changed for the better.

          Unlike fanboys, I'm not biased for or against companies. I absolutely have ideals (like privacy) that I believe in, but I could give a rat fuck about vendors one way or another. That's something a lot of forum rats can't seem to grok. There's so much overwhelming brand tribalism that they just can't understand things like "shitting on a broken product, then praising a fixed one". They think we should have "loyalty" or some other mad whack crap for vendors.

          I fail to see why.

          Now, if Windows 10 ends up good will I stop calling Microsoft out on their other failures? No. VDI licensing, SPLA licensing, death of Technet, death of SBS, lack of a "zero American legal attack surface" ecosystem for their cloud offerings (such as Office 365). Microsoft has a long way to go before I see them as "the good guys".

          But they do occasionally turn out good technology. If and when they do, I have no problems whatsoever with telling the world that. Just as I have no problems looking past the tech to talk about all the stuff they desperately want nobody to mention until the marks are committed to buy.

          And the same goes for every single vendor on earth, except Ninite. Ninite gets a free pass, because they're Ninite. We all get one.

          I should point out also that I have used the Microsoft Feedback mechanism to lodge about 50 issues. I'm doing the leg work. What about you?

      5. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        I'll stop complaining when they act with honour.

        You better get some beer and pizza then, it's going to be a looooong night :)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Have an upvote for the use of "$deity" sir!

    4. Adam Inistrator

      client-side encryption

      if cloud had been client-side encrypted from the beginning there would have been no problem with it but even now, open source cloud tools like owncloud dont support it.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Trevor - I advise you read the section on 'Before you install Windows Technical Preview' (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/preview-faq#faq=tab0) which does mention that: "Also, if your PC runs into problems, Microsoft will likely examine your system files. If the privacy of your system files is a concern, consider using a different PC"

      I know that's not quite the same as saying "we're taking your data nya nya!" but they do at least mention they'll be sending data - and as part of a beta testing product that's pretty normal.

      If you want your privacy, do like they suggest and use a different PC for your testing (or a VM, or just don't use it).

      That said, if there are any privacy concerns with the full release, I'll not be upgrading!

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Generally, if Microsoft "takes some of your files" for something something bug reports it is as part of a problem report process. I've never heard of it just randomly firing when noone's touching the thing before, especially if there are no problem reports left to send.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Meh

    They're sort of there...

    There's one store which holds apps for each platform, VS now generates apps for each platform, but... the APIs are still different although maybe less different than in Windows 8 and a desktop version and a TIFKAM version of the same app will still be as different as chalk and cheese.

    How does that work in the code then? Spaghetti programming held together with ifs? Huge abstraction classes for each device type?

    Still, to all intents and purposes most users now think the same version of Windows is running on loads of different devices and the same app runs everywhere. Yay, Marketing's done it again.

    1. Kristian Walsh

      Re: They're sort of there...

      This is for WinRT apps only, so the common API is present. You can already produce universal apps for tablet and phone; the core logic stays the same, but you usually have to tweak some of the UI views.

      There's no need for spaghetti code: in the (rare) cases where logic differs from one platform to another, you create a (small) interface that's implemented by different concrete classes, one per platform - hardly meddling in the Dark Arts.

      Users don't care what version of Windows they're running. They care whether the software they want can run on their device. The big change here is nothing to do with the APIs - it's that you can now run those tablet- and phone-friendly Metro things in a desktop window -- something which should have been possible from day one of Windows 8.

      Now, I wonder if Apple will allow iOS apps to be run on MacOS X? (no, I'm not being serious - there's a huge security problem if they did)

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: They're sort of there...

        Don't you mean TIFKAM apps (Modern UI apps)? Because there is no common API, the APIs supported by Windows Phone 8, Windows 8, and Windows RT are all different and nothing I've read leads me to believe that Windows 10 APIs have finally been unified across different devices.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just provide one API

    Why is this so hard for Microsoft?

    Provide one API--i.e., one set of functions that can be used to program everything. Have a way for software to query what kind of device it's running on and then it can change its own UI and functionality accordingly. Make the API accessible via unmanaged calling conventions so people can use whatever programming language and development environment they want.

    This is really dead simple and it's how cross-platform has worked in the non-Microsoft world for decades. It feels like Microsoft is almost deliberately trying to make development as inconvenient and complicated as possible.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just provide one API

      "Provide one API--i.e., one set of functions that can be used to program everything."

      You can have large / functionally near universal APIs like .Net, but there will always be a requirement for different APIs for different purposes.

      "Make the API accessible via unmanaged calling conventions so people can use whatever programming language and development environment they want."

      No - code and conventions should be managed - otherwise you get a zoo - and incompatibility issues forever more - which is what the .Net Common Language Runtime already fixes - it provides a near universal interface that allows you to programme Windows in nearly any language you want.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just provide one API

        "No - code and conventions should be managed - otherwise you get a zoo - and incompatibility issues forever more - which is what the .Net Common Language Runtime already fixes - it provides a near universal interface that allows you to programme Windows in nearly any language you want."

        This is a failed point of view that Microsoft has been pushing for the past ~13 years and it still hasn't caught on. If anything, it's on the decline. These days I don't know any developers who care one iota about making stuff for Windows.

        1. dogged

          Re: Just provide one API

          > These days I don't know any developers who care one iota about making stuff for Windows.

          I don't believe you.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Just provide one API

            >>I don't believe you.

            Admittedly I'm involved almost entirely in the startup community and web service community but it's true, outside of "enterprise" or whatever, nobody cares about Windows at all. The way "regular" people use software these days is via phones or tablets or web browsers.

            1. dogged

              Re: Just provide one API

              > outside of "enterprise" or whatever, nobody cares about Windows at all.

              I think you mean "inside the Shoreditch RDF bubble".

          2. Anonymous Bullard

            Re: Just provide one API

            I don't believe you.

            How many do you know? Ignoring work contacts.

            There are Windows developers (as in, developing for users on Windows platform) in the corporate areas, developing run of the mill LOB... but beyond that there isn't many in general.

            Look at the Show HNs, for example, it's rare to see anything "Windowsy". It's just not a developer OS any more unless you're developing for Windows, and getting paid to do it.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just provide one API

          "13 years and it still hasn't caught on"

          LOL .Net is massively popular. You must have also missed that C# is by far the fastest growing programming language over the past few years - http://venturebeat.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/chart_1-18.png

          .

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: Just provide one API

            You must have also missed that C# is by far the fastest growing programming language over the past few years

            It's about fucking time the rest of semi-opposable-thumb keyboard hacking brigade move off their C/C++ addiction. Can we now move on LISP?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Just provide one API

            "LOL .Net is massively popular. You must have also missed that C# is by far the fastest growing programming language over the past few years - "

            How does 'fastest growing' translate to 'massively popular' ... if anything it would seem to suggest it had a lot of room to grow and thus might be fairly unpopular.

            (Also, don't know how this statistic is calculated in the first place, but whatever.)

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: These days I don't know any developers who care one iota about making stuff for Windows.

          We're victims of our own ecosystem and bubble.

          Whilst I personally love using Python and Node, I don't know any developers who care one iota about making stuff that *isn't* dot net. Admittedly it's all web not Windows, so I'm not contradicting you, but the basic point I'm making is that our circle determines our exposure.

      2. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
        Windows

        Re: Just provide one API

        "No - code and conventions should be managed - otherwise you get a zoo - and incompatibility issues forever more - which is what the .Net Common Language Runtime already fixes"

        1) In what way does Microsoft .NET 'manage' code?

        2) In what way does Microsoft .NET 'manage' conventions?

        3) Should coders, code, and/or conventions be managed? Why?

        4) Is Microsoft .NET successful in this aspect?

        5) Precisely what goes wrong without such management? Aren't there better ways of preventing that?

        6) How does Microsoft .NET fix compatibilty issues?

        7) Doesn't Microsoft .NET just create new compatibility issues? How 'universal' is it?

    2. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
      Trollface

      Re: Just provide one API

      The Universal API for Microsoft is DOS (more or less compatible with CP/M and OS/2).

      From the C programmer's point of view the DOS API is somewhat similar to the POSIX API, that all versions of Windows NT more or less support.

      Microsoft are making things easier and easier for the developer with newer, better, and/or shinier API's, one or two per decade....it's just that the number of APIs 's gone out of hand:-)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    C++ development for Metro Apps is @#$%ing awful.

    Handling app signing for them is @#$%ing awful.

    And now we are supposed to support multiple platforms with the-same-but-different code ?

    Forget it.

    1. WP7Mango

      "C++ development for Metro Apps is @#$%ing awful."

      So, don't use C++. I use C# and VB and it's great for creating Metro apps (mine are all private LOB).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: C++ development for Metro Apps is @#$%ing awful

      I cry STRAW MAN !!

      (Meaning the attempt to redefine the terms to include C++ and thus limit the outcomes)

  6. JDX Gold badge

    One app, many targets... what could go wrong?

    This is what you do in Xcode (sort of) to target iPhone and iPad, although to a less extreme extent. It's certainly possible though, many open-source projects do this... for instance my codebase runs on Windows and iOS and I'd say less than 1% of the code I wrote is specific to either platform.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One app, many targets... what could go wrong?

      I think Apple's "Interface Builder" makes it seem like there are multiple targets... in reality, you end up with one binary that runs on both the iPhone and iPad using the same code and the same APIs.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: One app, many targets... what could go wrong?

        Um, the same would be true in W10 as well... same binary with different interfaces. And actually, when you build an iOS app your app package contains multiple binaries anyway... watch it compile and it does a whole build for several different architectures these days... arm6,7,64, yada yada. Your single application is compiled for multiple targets.

  7. Kristian Walsh

    ... platforms as different as Windows Phone versus a full size Windows tablet, there will be both user interface code and device-specific code that cannot be shared.

    Tablets are not very different from phones in terms of capability, input methods and features; the bigger difference would be between an app running on a touch device versus desktop. Mouse-click targets are much smaller than touch ones, and there are additional gestures (hover, right-click) that users expect to be able to exploit. Even then, however, the core program logic remains the same.

    Like a lot of Visual Studio, this isn't a technical/API feature, but rather a way of making it quicker to manage the process of developing a product. It also looks like Microsoft has been (unusually) pragmatic here, and started from the admission that there are application features that cannot be the same on all devices. (Remember Java's "write-once, run anywhere" promise? By using the same code, you ended up with every platform's application running at the level of the lowest common denominator, and it's a problem that's plagued multi-platform frameworks since then.)

    So, this might only be a way of managing functional modules with better separation of concerns and allowing easier sharing of media assets within a project, but I'm always in favour of tools that make doing the right thing easier.

    (And I think Nokia and Apple hold top place for ditching technologies just as developers get to grips with them.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >>(And I think Nokia and Apple hold top place for ditching technologies just as developers get to grips with them.)

      Not sure what you're referring to. Apple used its original Pascal-based APIs from 1984 to 2000 and then switched to the current Cocoa/Obj-C stuff in 2000 and has been using that for the last 14 years. They also provided a relatively smooth transition path between the two in the form of Carbon.

      Also I'll point out that writing software for iOS is literally the same as OS X except for the UI stuff.

      Apple basically started at the point that Microsoft is struggling to get to 7 years later.

      1. Kristian Walsh

        You're a newcomer to Apple, aren't you?

        HyperCard, QuickDraw GX, OpenTransport, MacApp, Resource Manager, CocoaJava and Carbon is next to go (no 64-bit support). I'm not going to include things like Dylan, etc, as nobody got a chance to ship applications based on those.

        Pascal bindings were dropped in the mid-1990s, but so few developers were still using Pascal, and Apple had so few developers, by then that there was no real reaction. Certainly when I started at Apple in 1996, everything was C and C++.

        Carbon is not a "smooth transition" to Cocoa. They are entirely different APIs. Carbon is the remains of the old Mac Toolbox, given a new graphics API and ported onto OSX. It's C-based, event-loop driven and the calls are procedural in that every call takes a handle - its only concession to OO principles is that the handles are now opaque, whereas in OS9/Classic toolbox you could dick around with the structs too.

        Cocoa is an object-oriented message-passing framework based on bolting Smalltalk semantics into a C runtime. Its API and runtime model is completely different from Carbon, and you have to re-write your code to deal with it. Not even the resource files are compatible (Carbon NIB files were XML, Cocoa ones are a serialised object graph that is un-parseable and can only be created properly by Interface Builder).

        Basically, Carbon was the price Apple paid to keep Adobe and Microsoft on their platform, but it's not a bridging API, it's a dead end. The big cheeses in software development who had mostly come from NeXT with Steve Jobs in 1996 wanted to ditch the Mac toolbox entirely and only use the NeXTStep-derived Cocoa framework for development, which would have been suicidal.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "You're a newcomer to Apple, aren't you? ... HyperCard, QuickDraw GX, OpenTransport, MacApp, Resource Manager, CocoaJava and Carbon is next to go (no 64-bit support). I'm not going to include things like Dylan, etc, as nobody got a chance to ship applications based on those."

          I'm sort of a newcomer and sort of not. I started developing on a Mac SE, switched to Windows for some intervening years, and came back to Apple with iPhone apps.

          I suppose you're right, the original comment was about ditching "technologies" whereas I was thinking more about how many times Apple (vs. Microsoft) has told developers "hey this is now the one true way to write software for our platform(s)."

          (Still, if one were to make a list of developer "technologies" Microsoft has come up with and then ditched, I'm certain the list would be much much longer...)

      2. WP7Mango

        "Also I'll point out that writing software for iOS is literally the same as OS X except for the UI stuff."

        Yeah, and the whole point of Windows universal apps is that writing software for phone, tablet, desktop, Xbox, IoT is the same, except for the UI stuff and some resources (camera and GPS being good examples where resources differ between form factors).

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Apart from TIFKAM apps where access to Win32 is not allowed unless the app is by MS, so any vaguely complicated software is impossible to write for TIFKAM.

          IoT on Windows. Is that a funny?

  8. Buzzword

    Backward compatibility to 7

    To gain any traction, they urgently need to backport the Windows Runtime and App Store to run on Windows 7. If I'm developing software for companies, I can't possibly tell them "Here's your new app, by the way you need to upgrade your entire estate to Windows 8." Most of my clients have only just migrated from XP to 7; they're in no hurry to go through the same hell again.

    1. gregthecanuck

      Re: Backward compatibility to 7

      I am 1000% in agreement and have mentioned this in a different thread.

      Windows store will continue to be DOA until we can develop universal apps for W7. An SP2 update will do that nicely. Come on MS, what are you waiting for? It's so "bleedin' obvious".

      1. Jungleland

        Re: Backward compatibility to 7

        Also mentioned in another thread is hte fact that an SP2 for Win 7 now would reset the EOL clock meaning MS would have to support it longer. That would make it more difficult to get the App Store running across all versions and MS would miss out on their cut of sales.

        1. Sandtitz Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Backward compatibility to 7 @Jungleland

          "Also mentioned in another thread is hte fact that an SP2 for Win 7 now would reset the EOL"

          Please give some references to this mysterious EOL reseting other than "another thread" please.

          1. Jungleland

            Re: Backward compatibility to 7 @Jungleland

            Here you go:

            10 years of support (5 years Mainstream Support and 5 years Extended Support) at the supported service pack level for Business, Developer and Desktop Operating System products,

            http://support2.microsoft.com/lifecycle/#ServicePackSupport

            So adding a new SP now would take Win 7 SP2 support past the current EOL of 2021 according to MS's release date of 22 Feb 2011 for SP1.

            1. Sandtitz Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Backward compatibility to 7 @Jungleland again

              I'm sorry but you have misunderstood the MS support policy.

              First of all, the EOL for Windows 7 is 14 Jan 2020. The SP1 didn't push the EOL date forward at all.

              The lifecycle page you quote means that MS will support those OS products for at least 10 years since their debut but to receive support you need to be on supported Service Pack level. For example, Windows 7 SP1 is required as of Feb 2013. Should SP2 arrive tomorrow you would have to install it within next 2 years to still receive support and updates. All support would still end on 14 Jan 2020.

              Vista SP2 and XP SP3 were both released in 2008. Neither pushed back the EOL date at all; XP is now unsupported and Vista will be in 2017.

  9. Mage Silver badge
    Flame

    So Stupid

    Different form factor / usage devices need different GUIs, sometimes different APIs and OS features

    Different form factor, resource & use devices (Phones. tablets, desktop PC/Laptops, TVs, set-boxes, mobile Internet vs broadband vs no Internet) often have widely differing applications.

    Applications can only be really GUI independent for the same form factor.

    MS have always done this wrong (since Win CE, WWFG and Win9x) and are now making it worse.

    They don't seem to get it.

    1. WP7Mango

      Re: So Stupid

      "Different form factor / usage devices need different GUIs, sometimes different APIs and OS features

      Different form factor, resource & use devices (Phones. tablets, desktop PC/Laptops, TVs, set-boxes, mobile Internet vs broadband vs no Internet) often have widely differing applications.

      Applications can only be really GUI independent for the same form factor.

      MS have always done this wrong (since Win CE, WWFG and Win9x) and are now making it worse.

      They don't seem to get it"

      It seems to me that it's YOU who doesn't get it, because universal apps provide exactly what you describe, which is a customised GUI and customised resource usage for each target form factor.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: So Stupid

        Only for trivial apps suitable for a phone screen.

        Most of the applications I use on a Laptop are unsuitable for a phone, many unsuitable for a tablet. Some that might be applicable to any form factor need extensive design changes. No way does a Set-box / TV sensibly use same design.

        1) I want to write a laptop/Desktop application and have it run on any GUI/OS. That is just about possible.

        2) I want to write an App for 4" phone to 8" tablet and run on different OS. That's a little harder.

        3) I want to write an application for a Set-box or TV. Extremely difficult to support different products

        1 or 2 or 3 separately are Cross Platform development. Not developing for 1 & 2 or 1 & 2 & 3. Unless it's a trivial widget, maybe not even then. Of course some lunatics do and what you get is poor quality that really only suits one of 1 to 3 and poorer than if you took a specific approach. Yes it's nice if 1, 2 & 3 have a lot of the same APIs. That means less to learn.

    2. stucs201

      Re: It depends on the app

      For complex things I agree, it needs tuning to the device. For simple things it just needs to fill the entire screen on a phone and run in a small window in the corner on a desktop. I'm thinking of the sort of utility which people used to code as 'gadgets' (before MS effectively killed them).

      Then there is the (admitedly niche at the moment) case of devices like the Surface Pro. These provide a case for more complex programs which can adapt themselves. It'd be nice to not have to have two versions of the same program and instead have one adapt itself depending on whether it was in tablet mode with just the touchscreen or pllugged into multiple external monitors with a mouse connected.

  10. Anonymous Bullard

    Hang on, we were promised this crap just before Windows 8 was out. I don't know how consumers felt, but from a developer point of view it turned out to be vapour.

    Platform specific stuff pretty much irrelevant to us, as we've moved onto making browser based apps - That is one API for almost every platform (covering MS, Google, Apple, Linux). It's BYOD for my apps!

    We're no longer restricting ourselves to single platforms, especially unproven, always changing, and desperate ones like "the new Windows" is becoming.

    I used to be a desktop developer, that cow has been well and truly milked (and rogered a bit).

    1. Chris 69

      So you think apps are dead...just use the browser... LOL

      FFS how did we ever get to the crappy situation we have where simple stuff we took for granted 20 years ago on all kinds of desktop apps still can't be done now because the browser writers have spent so much time pissing on each other instead of innovating. (e.g Writing an email or document and just pasting screen clips in-line from the clipboard)

      The fashion for ramming everything through the most unreliable, insecure, undocumented, poorly-specified, cruft-ridden and functionally limited front end - only to present the end user with yet another gratuitously different and incomprehensible UI experience, needs to be taken out and shot.

      Had we universally adopted Applets, or Flash or Silverlight (or anything similar) and worked together as an industry to produce a SINGLE solution it would have been brilliant for the end users, and the CUSTOMERS (ie whoever is paying you to develop stuff) but no... we have all been sacrificed on the alter of that false god "competition".

      1. Philip Lewis

        Re: So you think apps are dead...just use the browser... LOL

        "The fashion for ramming everything through the most unreliable, insecure, undocumented, poorly-specified, cruft-ridden and functionally limited front end - only to present the end user with yet another gratuitously different and incomprehensible UI experience, needs to be taken out and shot."

        "I wish I'd said that ..." -- Oscar WIlde.

        Actually, I am pretty sure I did say that, about 15 years ago, maybe more :(

  11. Deimos
    Devil

    the same O/S on everything

    actually I don't think this will be a problem.

    How many windows phones and surface pro tablets will still be around by the end of 2015 ?

    Now subtract all the older than 2015 devices as they won't be upgradable.

    Finally subtract the 99% of users who aren't daft enough to pay for a new O/S.

    We are left with 2000 corporate users all based in Redmond or Nokialand and a couple of dozen seriously mad folks.

    the only universal apps needed for Windows phone and Surface Pro will be Maps for finding Microsoft offices and a practical guide to muttering on trains whilst dribbling.

  12. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    What happened to Windows NEIN?

    Did I have to do a Chicago dive?

    1. dogged

      Re: What happened to Windows NEIN?

      This happened to Windows 9.

      See explanation.

      Actually makes a lot of sense.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: What happened to Windows NEIN?

        A new kind of Y2K, then.

      2. Anonymous Bullard
        Boffin

        Re: What happened to Windows NEIN?

        Psst.. that's joke - developers get the version identifier as a structure, not a string.

        1. dogged

          Re: What happened to Windows NEIN?

          Depends on how it's requested and what they do with the struct once returned.

  13. Frankee Llonnygog

    WTF is a Universal App?

    One that is universally hated and unused because it works equally badly everywhere?

    1. ricegf
      Happy

      Re: WTF is a Universal App?

      Most people call them "web apps". The more modern (lower case "m") environments allow you to "install" and run them exactly like native apps.

  14. Paul Shirley

    So all that's changed...

    ..is there's a new Visual Studio build target? It's still just Metro everywhere and no more likely to be useful than it is today.

  15. t.est

    Ask a mac geek...

    ... and he will tell you what a universal app is.

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: Ask a mac geek...

      Oooh - I know this... It;'s one that runs on both OS and OSX, like, ermmm ....

      Oh, it's an app that runs on Intel and PowerPC? That's useful in 2014.

  16. Paul Shirley

    fragmentation - astroturf script needs change

    A Windows 'universal app' is surely just what Android apps have always been, adapting at runtime to the platform they happen to be run on, with perhaps some help from the app store picking the right build? Apps that largely run everywhere there's an Android runtime available, just like the story of Win apps running everywhere the runtime is available.

    Till now MS ground troops (and their Apple equivalents) have banged on endlessly about Android fragmentation... but MS just brought the same 'fragmentation' problem to 'new Windows'

    So how long till the bs script changes? Because from now on the astroturfers will be on orders to paint fragmentation as a good thing!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      Re: fragmentation - astroturf script needs change

      Small nit-pick.

      with perhaps some help from the app store picking the right build

      There's only 1 build for all.

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: fragmentation - astroturf script needs change

        You can specify which build specific Android devices will receive, based on all sorts of filters. With so many devices out there it's generally easier to dump support for all into one apk though and let the runtime sort it out.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: fragmentation - astroturf script needs change

          Learned something new - nice one.

    2. Manu T

      Re: fragmentation - astroturf script needs change

      "A Windows 'universal app' is surely just what Android apps have always been,"

      Indeed. But Android apps are roughly said, "Java applets on testosteron". Since Java is already universally compatible and quite easy to program, it must be quite easy to "port" Android apps to other platforms and probably explains the surge of Android apps. The proof is that Android today, comes in ARM- and Intel-compatible camps. And indeed most of these apps run on both platforms due to Android's Java heritage I guess. Only a handfull apps have separate Intel and ARM-variants (e.g. VLCplayer).

      I reckon things will be more difficult when in the future Dalvik gets replaced with ART.

  17. picturethis
    Devil

    The only thing MS needs now is...

    to change their name.

    I suggest one of the following:

    OneSoft.com

    EverythingSoft.com

    Monopoly.net

    GiveMeAllYourData.com

    LetMeSellYourData.com

    GiveMeYourMoney.com

    worlddomination.net (check out: http://www.worlddomination.com -pretty funny)

    justgivemeyourbankaccount.com

    justgivemeyourcreditcardnumber.com

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The only thing MS needs now is...

      They already have scroogled.com - why not just use that?

  18. Valerion

    VB6

    Any word on whether Win10 will support the VB6 Runtime?

    There's a LOT of business stuff out there still written in that.

  19. Filippo

    Trust

    The problem of trust needs to be underlined more sharply, and more often. The current lifecycle of Microsoft frameworks is simply unacceptable, and it's starting to become a problem. Not everyone is making "apps" that are supposed to be maintained for three years tops before the public loses interest; some of us are making stuff that has an expected lifetime measured in decades.

    Personally, I'm not even doing a "Hello World" in WinRT unless and until somebody is asking explicitly for it, and paying me for it. At the moment, I'd rather use HTML/JavaScript, which I absolutely loathe for a multitude of reasons, but which at least is pretty much certain to remain a first-class citizen for more than a few years.

  20. Tristan Young

    Why would I want to get my apps from one place (Windows app store)? I don't even like buying my beer and spirits from our local government-owned monopoly.

    I don't even trust Microsoft, so why would I continue to go back to Microsoft for apps?

    There is only one thing I want from Microsoft, a great-looking, well-running, secure OS. I don't want to go back to Microsoft for anything else. I hate Microsoft overall. I use Microsoft Windows because I can't find the same software I need on Linux, and my hatred for Microsoft is shadowed only by my hatred for Apple.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      +1

      I have no intention whatsoever of doing a single thing to support, participate or encourage the use of a Microsoft Walled Garden App Store. They can keep their greedy hands out of the trough and I'll continue to buy software direct from its creators - or more likely get by with Open Source stuff.

      MS are welcome to provide an OS that's pretty much standard in my line of work (along with Office and SQL Server) but that's where it ends as far as I'm concerned. I'm happy to earn a living off their OS, but the sheer amount of aggravation I've endured along the way, along with the variety of repulsive business practices they have sleazeballed their way through, means that I have no wish to be involved with them any more than that.

      I don't even use Hotmail any more because they froze my accounts after I refused to give them my private cellphone number. That's none of their business, so I moved to a better email freebie.

      So, mixed feelings about MS here. I just hope that Windows continues to be somewhat tolerable :)

  21. razorfishsl

    Microsoft releases the latest tool for proctologists,

    Stuff everything in one hole then expose it to the world.

  22. tclicot

    Shades of HAL/WIN32...

    Well,

    Back in the day, THAT was the platform we wrote to (and even on diff processors) and the "Win32" app that came out of the hind end of a compiler WAS a universal app...

    Now, with so many different presentation UI's, what MS needs to do is get back to basics, and abstract as much of the programmatic support to a "universal OS layer", and THEN present programmers with a new kind of "Win32/64" GUI/Interop API set, with built-in provisos for different platforms (these could be compiler-driven and mostly hidden from the coder).

    Forget the multitude of runtimes and "frameworks" for the first-and even second iteration, or they will mire the platform in a maze of confused dependencies.

  23. poopypants

    Right hand, meet left hand

    Microsoft recently bought out the makers of UnityVS, a Visual Studio plugin that makes debugging Windows Desktop programs developed using Unity a lot easier. Unity of course also targets Windows Store, Android, iOS, OS X, Web browsers, etc. I would be interested to know how this fits in to their Universal App strategy.

    Microsoft offers UnityVS free of charge to interested users.

  24. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    We've been doing that "one codebase library carved out at compile time to fit the platform" thing for decades on Univac-then-Sperry-then-Unisys 1100/2200 family mainframes.

    We use a scripting language called SSG and the sensible use a front-end/database called COMUS to manage it all.

    What, you thought mainframe OS's were hand written for site specific platforms?

    What, you thought that mainframe utilities were one-size-fits-all (nearly) like they aren't on Unix?

    Unisys OS2200 is also Open Source, or was when I last worked with it, and had been for most of it's decades old life.

    What, you thought you invented Open Source *and* sex?

    Kids. Tch!

  25. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Its been tried before

    "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer"

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Its been tried before

      That was a pretty populist app.

  26. Tom 13

    We’re not talking about one UI to rule them all

    Yes you are. You really should have learned the lesson from Tolkien. Sadly it seems you haven't learned it from Windows 8 or 8.1 either.

  27. king of foo

    ...the power of love

    MS have somehow invented a time machine. It's 1993 and the world is a happy place. A google is a naughty word and apple are spiraling towards obscurity.

    Or that's what it feels like reading the word "universal" used with such smug arrogance.

    2 words; WAKE UP

    Snrrrrt! Hakkkkk! Cough! Yaaaawn.

    Oh shit. It's 2014.

  28. Vociferous

    Yeah, it's not like anyone cares about performance.

    Let's make everything in HTML, and store and stream everything to/from the cloud. Wheeee.

  29. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Why not?

    Firstly, People. Do. Not. Want. Metro. If Microsoft is truly interested in so-called universal apps ("so-called" because supporting a few versions of Windows is in no way universal....), they really need to have an option to run these at least in Windows 8 *outside* the Metro environment, and preferably a Windows 7 runtime. Why not? They will have to realize eventually, expecting people to build to a spec with *zero* backward compatibility, they just aren't going to do it.

    Secondly.... I just can't believe how badly Microsoft screwed this up. .NET's original intention was just to claim portability to displace Java, but really make sure that other platforms are second-class citizens compared to Windows to drive users to Windows. Nevertheless, the language has a decent design, the API is pretty clean as long as you stick to the portable part. They have a not at all portable WinAPI, but recommend against using it unless you have to use it for something. Don't use WinAPI, and the same binary will in fact run on Windows, Mac, Linux and any other platform Mono is built for.

    WHY... ****WHYYYYY****... did they not use .NET and CLR runtime to allow the same apps to run on Windows (Vista on up), the stupid tablet-on-desktop interface (Metro), Windows (Phone) and Windows (RT)? As long as your .NET app doesn't call WinAPI, it would already be portable. You'd spend like 30 seconds running it through Metro, Phone, and RT packagers (assuming they use different package formats) and a packager to build a Windows desktop installer if you don't want the user to just download and run your .exe directly, and you'd be done!

  30. thx1138v2

    Unload that pesky UI development onto the hardware manufacturers

    It sounds like M$ is about to do to the UI hardware manufacturers exactly what they did to the printer manufacturers back in the day. Back in pre-history when Word Perfect owned the office PC because their word processor had printer drivers for every printer imaginable (back then there weren't that many) MS touted the "device independence" of Windows. The way they accomplished that was laying out a driver spec and telling the printer manufacturers that if they wanted their printer to work with Windows they, the printer manufacturer, would have to write and distribute the printer driver for their machine to work with Windows.

    This sounds like a new version of "device independence" meme. Let's call it "UDIF" for Universal Device Independent Framework. MS develops the "framework" and the hardware manufacturers get the job of making their hardware work with the ever moving target of MS's UDIF. It may not be there yet but I imagine that is the goal.

    Actually, it cuts both ways for the hardware guys. As long as MS keeps changing the target (driver architecture or UDIF), the hardware vendors get to sell you new hardware when they no longer have a driver for an old piece of kit. New driver architecture requires new drivers and they are only developed for the current version of hardware. So to use a newer OS you have to buy a new piece of hardware to make it work with the new driver architecture or UDIF since there won't be any new drivers developed for the old hardware. The hardware manufacturers would much rather sell you new hardware with the new driver than port old drivers to new architectures for old hardware. That doesn't make a sale.

    Remember the Vista driver architecture change that blew W2K and XP machines out of the water regarding their old peripherals? How many people had to buy new printers, modems, network cards, etc because their old peripheral hardware wouldn't work with Vista or Win7 because they couldn't get new architecture drivers?

    Now consider the same scenario for not only printers but touch screens, mice or touchpads, keypads, GPS, etc. etc. etc.

    Old dog, old trick. After all, that backward compatibility mess is such a PITA and soooo detrimental to MS's bottom line. And the hardware vendors sure aren't going to complain. So where's the downside? Look in your wallet.

  31. MigMig

    where the fun really is

    Forget the article. What's best about these publications is the kicking and screaming by Microsoft haters (a majority here) with an axe to grind. Every company uses mind control. It's part of marketing or in some cases by coincidence. Haters are just oblivious of [insert 'opposition name here] iron grip on their free will and are on autopilot. We're all sheep. Get over it.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: where the fun really is

      No. Go back to your cage!

  32. Kepler
    WTF?

    "Universal" my ass!

    "Another issue is that universal apps only support Windows Runtime (Windows Store app) targets. Standard Windows desktop apps are not included."

    WTF??!!!

    I understood from the outset that we would not be talking about truly (almost) universal apps — "universal" in the sense of running under Mac OS X (including iOS), Linux (including Android), and the various (other) BSDs (let alone AIX, Solaris, and any other Unix variants, but still presumably omitting NonStop, OpenVMS, Neutrino/BBOS 10, and gazillions of other OSes) as well as under the various (surviving) OSes with the word "Windows" in their name — but this isn't even universal with respect to the Microsoft universe alone!

    Provide the ability to generate apps for the classic ("desktop") environment as well as for "Modern" or "Metro" and then you will have some valid (if still qualified) claim to the term "universal". But quit jacking us off until that happens.

  33. Linux? Crap more like.

    One Windows? How does that work

    It won't.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "and WTF is a Universal App? "

    "and WTF is a Universal App? "

    Isn't (wasn't) that an application that is both Power PC Mac-compatible and Intel Mac-compatible?

  35. This post has been deleted by its author

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