Windows 7

So, let’s talk here.  When is the last time you developed a Windows application?  Yeah, I thought so – me too actually.  You’ve probably heard a bit about Windows 7 and might be thinking that it’s time for you to take a look at it.  If you are the action-type, you can just download the release candidate now.  However, before you willy-nilly install it on mission critical systems, be reminded of this little item from the FAQ:

Can I upgrade from the RC to the final version of Windows 7?

When you install the final version of Windows 7, you'll need to do a clean installation. So plan on backing up your data then reinstalling your applications and restoring your data.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you on that.  RCs are for TESTING only.  Ok, now that we’ve got that little item out of the way, just what are you looking for?  What’s so compelling about Windows 7 for you developers anyway?  Well you can read the complete list of features at ‘what’s new’, but I assume you are reading my blog because you want to know what I like, so here are my top three picks listed in order:

1) Multi-touch

2) Sensor API

3) Richer 3D Support

Recently I was a technology advisor at an interesting Microsoft event – Windows 7 ISV Developer Incubation Week held at the Microsoft office in Irvine, CA.  During this week 5 teams of two to three .NET developers learned about Windows 7 features, then took an existing WinForms application and added code to take advantage of new features in Windows 7.  Several interesting things happened:

1) All teams elected to include multi-touch (we provided them with devices that support multi-touch)
2) All teams actually completed a working prototype in 3 days (to be fair, some teams coded through the night as well)
3) One of the ‘winning’ teams consisted of two unemployed ASP.NET developers who created a multi-touch application prototype from scratch in 4 days.  *Both developers of this team have got full-time coding jobs since the competition.

Take a look at what the teams came up with via these Channel 9 Videos.

1) Ingenium – home health care – used multi-touch and sensors

Ingenium

2) Quantellia – complex decision visualization – used multi-touch and advanced 3D support

Quantellia

3) Image Manipulation – used multi-touch and sensors

Image Manipulation

Cool stuff, huh?  I think so.  Interestingly on the last day of incubation week, we called in some judges to take a look at what had been built.  These judges included venture capitalists, technical leaders (CIOs) and startup advisors.  Of the five groups that participated, the three groups shown above ‘won’ various categories of the competition.  In addition to being wowed by what everyone had accomplished, I went away from the week thinking, hmm…Windows 7 application development is something I need to pay attention to.  So I’ve decided to start a summer blog series (with this post being the first in the series) to help those of you who are interested in creating your own Windows 7 applications find your way.  I’ll tag all of these blog posts with ‘Win7DevSeries’ for easy following via RSS.  I intend to take a how-to approach for those of us who have done mostly ASP.NET web development over the past few years, I’ll blog on how to get started, i.e. set up a test environment, what to download (SDK, samples, etc…), then take a stab at actually building something.

I’ve also started a facebook group named ‘Windows 7 Developers’ to share info, events, links, etc…join in!

Oh, and I suppose you might like to know when Windows 7 will be ‘done’ (RTM).  We announced at TechEd that we are ‘on track for a holiday release.’

Happy coding.