clip_image002Clearly, the most obvious difference in Windows 8 compared to other operating systems (from inferior *NIX based desktops to fancy fondleslabs) is the Start Screen – the colourful, dynamic  and interactive tile-based view of apps available to you with just a click, touch or swipe. It’s also the most controversial aspect of the OS, with a whole slew of “start screen replacements” available, and the environment garners more grumbling in online forums than anything else in Windows 8. There are rumours that the next generation of Windows will allow users to skip the Start Screen and go straight to the desktop. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Those of us with long memories will recall Windows XP being dismissed by some  customers, disliking the green start button and colourful window surrounds, demanding ways of switching it all off and making the OS look like Windows 2000. Now the same people may be clinging on to XP, even as the clock ticks down to less than a year before support ends

The apps that appear on your Start Screen will, of course, evolve as you use it, and we’d all like it that (even better versions of?) the best apps available on other platforms will also be made available for Windows 8. It may take time to really understand what works best on the platform, just like the best games on a console often come out late into its lifecycle, as developers learn how to exploit it best.

Kevin Ashley wrote a great blog post about the developer opportunity for writing Windows 8 Apps – that now is the “Magic Moment” – the time to get established in the store, before it grows to the point where there are lots of apps all purportedly doing the same thing. Kevin’s point is well made because he’s an accomplished app developer – how many of us would still turn up for work if we were taking $30,000 a month in app revenue, I’m not sure.

If you hear anyone saying that they don’t plan to support Windows 8 with their app, and that all their efforts go into iOS or Android development, perhaps highlight Kevin’s blog post above. Maybe some of the top customers could focus their efforts on building their own great apps, and maybe less on taking down the apps that others build. Fingers crossed.

Start me Update

clip_image004

Previous ToWs have harped on about the importance of updating your installed Apps through the Store. We’re now seeing a whole slew of app updates to built-in apps, like the Bing Travel or Maps app. Mary Jo Foley writes about some of the updates, and anyone who’s been using Xbox Music across Windows 8 devices, Windows Phone and Xbox console, will enjoy the latest version of the Music app.

It can take a bit of digging to find out what each of the numerous updates actually doesPaul Thurrott (for example) has unearthed a few of the details.

ToW Update: Several eagle-eyed readers commented on the last Tip. Rather than following the process to wangle SkyDrive to replicate eWallet data, perhaps just take a look at Sky Wallet – a Windows Phone app with free desktop companion (if you buy the app – but then, it’s cheaper than eWallet anyway), and the developer’s apparently working on a Modern UI version too. Oh, and it just stores its data in SkyDrive to start with. I’ll get my coat.