Windows 8

So the rumors are true. Windows 8, from the bootloader to the composition engine, is going to be completely rewritten in HTML 5 and JavaScript:

Today, we also talked a bit about how developers will build apps for the new system. Windows 8 apps use the power of HTML5, tapping into the native capabilities of Windows using standard JavaScript and HTML to deliver new kinds of experiences. These new Windows 8 apps are full-screen and touch-optimized, and they easily integrate with the capabilities of the new Windows user interface. There’s much more to the platform, capabilities and tools than we showed today.

Mark my words: HTML is going to revolutionize the concept of the desktop. Nothing in the history of Windows has been this big, well, at least not since the last time HTML revolutionized the desktop:

Windows Desktop Gadgets contains mini-applications or Gadgets which are based on a combination of Script and HTML. They may be used to display information such as the system time and Internet-powered features such as RSS feeds, and to control external applications such as Windows Media Player. Gadgets can run "docked" in the sidebar or they can "float" anywhere on the desktop. It is also possible to run multiple instances of a gadget simultaneously.

Or the time before that:

Active Desktop was a feature of Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0's optional Windows Desktop Update that allows the user to add HTML content to the desktop, along with some other features. This function was intended to be installed on the then-current Windows 95 operating system. It was also included in Windows 98 and later Windows operating systems until Windows Vista, where the feature was discontinued. This corresponded to version Internet Explorer 4.0 to 6.x, but not Internet Explorer 7.

Of course those were just interesting widgets, nothing special (I actually once had a 2-day consulting engagement to build a Windows Vista Gadget - it was THAT game changing). The version in Windows 8 is going to be FULL SCREEN and it will be used to build ENTIRE APPLICATIONS:

An HTML Application (HTA) is a Microsoft Windows program whose source code consists of HTML, Dynamic HTML, and one or more scripting languages supported by Internet Explorer, such as VBScript or JScript. The HTML is used to generate the user interface, and the scripting language is used for the program logic. An HTA executes without the constraints of the internet browser security model; in fact, it executes as a "fully trusted" application. The ability to execute HTAs was introduced to Microsoft Windows in 1999, along with the release of Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.

The topic of the month has already become "Is Silverlight/WPF dead?", which, let's face it, has been the topic of the month since .NET 3.0 shipped. It's quite possible that desktop HTML 5 applications could become another decision point on the platform decision flowchart, but will it really change the kinds of applications we're building today? Only time will tell.

(I'm curious to know whether Apple desktop application developers constantly pontificate over the demise of Cocoa since WebKit was open sourced, and whether PhotoShop or Visual Studio will be rewritten as Vista Gadgets HTML 5 desktop experiences)

A picture of me

Welcome, my name is Paul Stovell. I live in Brisbane and work full time bootstrapping my own product company around Octopus Deploy, an automated deployment tool for .NET applications.

Prior to Octopus Deploy, I worked for an investment bank in London building WPF applications, and before that I worked for Readify, an Australian .NET consulting firm, where I was lucky enough to work with some of the best in the business. I also worked on a number of open source projects and was an active user group presenter. I've been a Microsoft MVP for WPF since 2006.

Luke
Luke
02 Jun 2011

Now the C/C++ to LLVM to JavaScript compiler all makes sense :)

Jack
Jack
02 Jun 2011

You realise a lot of "browsers" are going to take this post seriously!

Timothy
Timothy
02 Jun 2011

from the bootloader to the composition engine, is going to be completely rewritten in HTML 5 and JavaScript

So is there a quote from MS on this? The link you provided says nothing about writing the bootloader and the composition engine in HTML5. Infact your quote above makes it sound like HTML5 and JS will simply be given a "first class language" status in Windows 8. The quote says nothing about writing bootloaders.

alice
alice
02 Jun 2011

In the blog post you linked she says that we can build native application using HTML5 and javascript in Windows 8 but there's no mention that the bootloader and the composition engine will be written in HTML5 and javascript. Could you provide any source?

02 Jun 2011

System wide stuff using IE's engine? We've been down this road before, and it ain't pretty.

02 Jun 2011

@Timothy, @alice, here's my source ;-)

Shea Strickland
Shea Strickland
02 Jun 2011

Thinking I need to get Paul a bigger stick ;)

Carl Scarlett
Carl Scarlett
03 Jun 2011

So Paul, when are you changing your name to Barnes? * grin *

While this is a bit of a shock, I think I won't start holding my breath until they rewrite Office in HTML and Java.

I just hope I don't look back at this page in a few years and go "oh dear"...

04 Jun 2011

I think is a great opportunity in a cool revamped platform with a lot of future.

In fact I pivoted a old project to make the development of this new Windows 8 Application easy. Check it ou at http://metrodynamis.com

Is still in a very alpha stage

06 Jun 2011

I like the historical perspective.

However, you have to also consider that web technologies - both client and server - were much less developed back in 1995 than they are now.

The rise of advanced browsers could likely be the enabler for the web-based desktop Microsoft has envisioned for a long time, just as Flash enabled YouTube or earlier versions of Windows enabled mouse-driven GUI applications to become mainstream.

huckleberry
huckleberry
06 Jun 2011

Finally, those crappy Bios UIs will be able to sing. They might even qualify as a UX. Bios manufacturers with Html5 UXs and clientside JS distinguishwill distinguish themselves from boring native ones.

Neeraj Shah
Neeraj Shah
14 Jun 2011

So the rumors are true. Windows 8, from the bootloader to the composition engine I guess even Linus Torvalds or Andrew Tannenbaum can't write a boot loader in HTML5

03 Jul 2011

@Jose , i've checked http://metrodynamis.com , contratulations.