As the installed base of Windows 8 devices grows, so does the opportunity for mobile developers to target a wide range of users and device types, including users of Windows 8 Ultrabook devices. In fact, Windows 8 makes it relatively fast and cost-effective to code once and run many — meaning a big pool of potential customers.

“If [developers] build for the store, they have to recompile for each processor and put in flexibility for screen sizes, but they don’t have to recode,” says Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group. “Assuming they follow the guidelines, it is a couple hours recompiling and testing for each platform, much of it automated. Much easier than with anything else. Developers love this platform.”

Netflix was one of the first companies to offer a Windows 8 app. “We reuse a significant amount of C# code among our Windows 8, Windows Phone, Silverlight and Xbox apps,” says Joris Evers, corporate communications director.

The ability to reuse code means developers can also leverage their existing skills for Windows 8 even though it provides a host of new features. “The tools offer Windows 7 developers familiar ramp-up to the platform, but Windows 8 offers HTML and Java Script developers [opportunities] to develop for the platform as well,” says Russ Whitman, Ratio Interactive’s chief strategy officer.

“These devs will be new to the tool set but will find there are a number of great online resources to ramp up on the tools,” Whitman continues. “They will find the platform supports their skill sets extremely well. We have turned several Web developers into Windows 8 app devs quickly.”

Windows 8 and Ultrabook: The Perfect Match?
On the Ultrabook platform, Windows 8 enables features and user experiences that are difficult or impossible for developers to create on Windows 7 Ultrabook devices. Enderle singles out four Windows 8 features that work particularly well with Ultrabook devices:

  • Fast boot, suspend and resume. That speed can increase productivity for mobile workers, says Enderle. “Improved load time is a big benefit we see,” agrees Whitman agrees. “It allows us to create highly complex experiences that are performant and offer users instant experiences.”
  • Wireless convenience. “[Windows 8] is both fast and easy to use with wireless networks, far easier than Windows 7 was, and this class of product is intended to be mobile,” Enderle says.
  • Integration with Windows Store. “[Windows 8] uses the Windows App store by default, which, much like it is with a tablet, allows users to quickly get the applications they need for work or entertainment,” Enderle says. “Given these users by nature are more mobile, being able to get access to this stuff on the road is very compelling.”
  • Integration with Microsoft’s SkyDrive. “SkyDrive links the user’s PCs, phones and tablets, allowing the user to switch devices quickly and still have access to their personal content, be it work, product or entertainment,” Enderle says. “This is a platform designed to optimize the highly mobile worker, and it dovetails nicely with the Ultrabook, a product class with similar design elements.”

Windows 8 Ultrabook Devices: Additional Features
The UI options of Windows 8 are another draw. “The introduction of touch fundamentally creates opportunities to create more compelling user experiences,” Whitman says.

Speech control is another example of how the Ultrabook platform is enabling new ways for users to interact with their devices. This fall, some Ultrabook devices began shipping with Nuance’s Dragon Assistant Beta, which will run natively on the device. (By comparison, iPhone’s Siri uses the cloud.)

“With the recently announced Intel SDK, developers will have the ability to include speech recognition technology using Dragon’s API into applications for the Ultrabook,” says Mark Geremia, Nuance senior director for Dragon marketing. “We will have more to share on speech as it relates to Ultrabooks in the coming year.” [Disclosure: Intel is the sponsor of this content.]

That’s also another example of how developers can leverage their mobile expertise — such as creating a great touch-driven GUI or speech-controlled app — in the Ultrabook environment, where touch and speech input will be common. It’s a new world, but also a familiar one.

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