I have no first hand knowledge of what the plans are for Windows 8, but here are my thoughts based on what we know today. Windows 8 will as every single version of Windows still run GDI based apps. They call it Classic mode, but there will be no dropping of that mode any time soon. That means that all apps that are running today will run tomorrow on Windows 8. Best bet for those apps in my opinion is still WinForms and not WPF or Silverlight. Why? GDI is closest to the Windows platform since it works directly with Windows messages and drawing canvas and those are not going away due to must have “feature” to continue to support millions of apps already developed for Windows. And I bet we will find the way to integrated those with the metro tiles…
Why new User Interface technology is needed?
We know that there will be no investment to further speed optimize WPF (I can’t find link with that statement right now, but when I do I will add it). And since Windows 8 will run on ARM processors so you can have those long run-time tablets, that rules out the WPF. And it rules out Silverlight to some extent unless serious performance optimizations are done. Why? Silverlight is for example slow running on say MacBook Air, in fact so slow that it cannot be used for anything serious. It is not snappy enough when running on netbooks as well. I bring those up since that is about performance of ARM processors running tablets today.
What is new UI tech?
I don’t know, but it has to be hardware accelerated so it uses the graphics chip to render all of the UI. It is possible that they resurrect Visual C++ to target platform natively and it is possible that they start compiling .NET CLR directly to native instruction set, but I think this is unlikely since there is ARM and Intel processor architecture and you’d need two compiled versions of native code to target both.
My bet is on the .NET based stack possibly compiled directly to native code with new UI layer that is heavily hardware accelerated. We will know in couple of months whether these predictions hold true.
What do you think?