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Sideloading and Deployment

Oct 8, 2012 at 10:40 PM

Hi Jeremy,

Thank you for your books, they are of most help. I bought the "Designing Silverlight Business Applications" and now the "Building Windows 8 Apps…" books - does this give me a chance to ask you about your take on the future? J

As everybody noticed (me, it's the very first thing!), the big difference between the two book titles is, the new book is missing the word "business"! Is this a hint? Obviously Windows 8/RT side is currently geared towards the 'consumer' market (Windows RT & Windows Store and all) but I've been using W8 (RT side) for months and I believe it's got great potential for LoB apps; if we can fix a couple of issues. Could you please comment on the following?

1. Sideloading. The way I read the MS web sites (IMHO this subject is confusing and the sites are a bit old: for example To sideload an app either the device or the user need to belong to the organization's Active Directory (of course Windows RT devices cannot join an AD). How can we, small ISVs, sideload our apps to our small customers PC's and devices when these small customers obviously do not have AD (nor an IT staff)? Your book (page 291) seems to indicate that the requirements are less stringent, that there is no need for AD (you do not even mention the magic product key that MS often mentions on their sites); do you have more up-to-date information (like that Silverlight 6 super-secret scoop you had)?

2. Deployment: One great feature of Silverlight LoB apps is the deployment model: when a new version comes out, it is automatically updated on the client's PC and the user does not even notice it (no need to run a 'Setup.exe', a wizard, click, click, click, wait and so on …). This is much better than WPF or the old WinForms way for us small ISVs and for our customers. Silverlight fixed the problem at last! Now, with Windows 8 apps, where are we? I couldn't find details on this. Do/Can we get this great feature with Win8/RT apps?

Thank you for your time, I know it's precious; I tried to make it short but precise.


Oct 26, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Thanks for writing, and I apologize for the delay with getting back to you. I had notifications turned off by accident.

You are always welcome to ask me about my take on the future! I think there is a place for business apps using Windows 8. The reason for the change in focus might not be what you think. When I wrote the Silverlight book, I had several years of experience building exclusively enterprise line of business applications. I had the experience and case studies to support taking on what I felt for the key ingredients and patterns for being successful in that space. With Windows 8, because it is completely new, there simply aren't existing applications, so I didn't feel it would be justified to try to tackle "Windows 8 for business" when it will take some time for businesses to start adopting.

There are definitely line of business scenarios. Our company has done quite a few proof of concept, pilot, and actual hands-on development projects building line of business Windows 8 apps. Most of them are under NDA and I can't talk much about them but you may have heard about the Rooms to Go app or watched the demo at Tech Ed. We took a lot of what we knew from building Silverlight apps as well as cross-platform apps that shared code between Silverlight and Windows Phone to build the Windows 8 apps using best practices and patterns, but I feel this is an area where it will take some time to mature and truly see the effective patterns and use cases, so I simply don't want to write a book based on speculation, only on what I know and have experience with first hand. Make sense?

I intend to follow-up either with a deeper book that dives into very advanced features, or possibly with a more business-focused book (who knows, maybe both?) so stay tuned.

Side-loading does not require Active Directory. A simple PowerShell script and administration privileges are all that is needed as I cover in Chapter 9 - and PowerShell is included with every Windows 8 install. I don't think it's a super-secret inside scoop, I think it's just a new area evolving ... this is something I know works because it's how we deployed many of our pilot projects.

There are no automatic updates for Windows Store apps. These will simply appear as a badge on the Store tile and then give the user the ability to update their version. It's a broadly accepted model and in use with smartphones and mobile phones so I don't see major challenges with this on the platform moving forward.

Thanks for your questions - I always welcome feedback and discussion!

Nov 4, 2012 at 8:31 PM

Thanks for the reply. It took a while so I thought I had somehow offended you with my rambling...

You wrote: "but I feel this is an area where it will take some time to mature and truly see the effective patterns and use cases... Make sense?"

It makes sense, of course. But I am an aggressive early adopter :) Our company is hard at work porting our LoB app to WinRT with all the challenges and frustrations entailed with using a new OS (we will make it though). MVVM, Caliburn, MEF, etc; these are all patterns and frameworks which are not mature yet on WinRT.

So I am very much looking forward to your next book "Building Connected Line of Business Applications with Windows RT, Windows Phone 8 and Windows Azure" :)

Apparently we have fresh news about sideloading:

Not exactly what we were hoping for!  This does not encourage small ISVs to develop LoBs for the WinRT stack. Is there another way (beside the AD method)? You wrote "A simple PowerShell script and administration privileges are all that is needed", you forgot(?) to mention the $30 per device?

As for updating the software: I am sure, just like me, you are bombarded on a daily basis with updates notices on the "Store" tile (for each of your devices which are running Windows 8!). Human nature being what it is, many (most) people just ignore these upgrade notices. I feel the software should upgrade itself (most of the time) with no manual intervention or we'll soon be overwhelmed spending many minutes every morning upgrading our many devices. This model does not make sense and will change, it has to. IMHO.

Thanks for all the help you provide to the community.