Windows 8 Developer System Requirements

A number of readers have written me about the Windows 8 Developer Preview system requirements. The requirements that should work, don’t always appear to work. I’d like to say that there is an easy answer to the problem, but it could be one of several interaction problems that you’ll need to consider when working with this version.

 

  • These requirements don’t include resources you need to run applications.
  • Minimum system requirements usually equates to barely working.
  • Hidden hardware needs don’t appear in the list.
  • Drivers don’t interact with your system correctly, even though they should.
  • This is a beta, so it does eat additional resources.


The biggest issue, however, is that most of the people reading my books are developers who would require additional system resources anyway. An IDE eats up considerable resources, as does running an application in debug mode. Unfortunately, you won’t find many places that discuss the system requirements for a development machine. With this in mind, I experimented for a while and came up with what I think are the minimum requirements for a usable development machine (one that will do the job without constantly causing problems):

 

  • 2.0 GHz 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 3 GB RAM
  • 500 GB hard drive
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
  • Display that supports MultiTouch if you plan to have anything to do with the new Metro interface
  • 1280 × 1024 display resolution
  • 100 Mbps network adapter


Yes, this is quite a bit more aggressive than the published system requirements that Microsoft provides, but these requirements seem to be the minimum that works for me. Anything less seems to prompt all sorts of little glitch problems that make it hard or impossible to determine whether the error is in your code or the system itself.

Depending on what you plan to do with your application, these requirements may still not be high enough. For example, an application that works extensively with databases will likely require more RAM and possibly a larger hard drive as well. You can’t develop good applications without the required resources.

To this list of minimal requirements, I’ve added a second display to make it possible to see the application and the debugger at the same time. My system also has two DVD drives, multiple USB 3.0 ports, memory sticks, and a number of other features to make it easy for me to develop robust applications.

Remember that you’ll want Internet access on your system. Otherwise, you’ll lose access to updated help information to write your applications. In addition, Microsoft is likely to make updates available that you’ll want to download and install on your machine. So, what is your development system like? Let me know at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.

 

New RecImg Utility in Windows 8

Microsoft is constantly changing the command line, which is why books such as Windows Command-Line Administration Instant Reference get outdated. Every new version of Windows comes with new command line utilities. In most cases, these new utilities support new Windows features or allow some new level of maintenance or administration. The RecImg utility creates an image of the Windows 8 installation, including installed applications, to the location you specify. The purpose of this image is to allow a refresh of the Windows installation should something happen to it. A refresh installs a new copy of Windows, but preserves the data and application setup. In many respects, this feature sounds like a simplified version of products such as Norton Ghost. You can read about this new refresh functionality in the Refresh and reset your PC post on the Building Windows 8 site.

I find this new feature exciting because it provides the means for someone like me to recover a hard drive even if I have to support several configurations for a book. It should be possible to create as many images as needed and know that Windows will support them because the feature is built into the operating system. The basic command line for working with this utility is:

RecImg -CreateImage Location

where Location is the directory you want to use for the Windows image. As with any Windows 8 feature, the current version of the utility has problems that you can read about on the Computer Performance site. I’m assuming at this point that the utility will include additional command line switches. Otherwise, Microsoft wouldn’t have included a specific -CreateImage command line switch. Of course, the presence of this new utility means that administrators can perform image updates from a batch file or as part of automated maintenance.

I’ll keep you posted on this, and other, Windows 8 utilities as I have time to review and study them. In the meantime, let me know if you hear anything about interesting new Windows 8 utilities and utility changes. Also let me know if you hear about any utilities that Microsoft decides not to support. Often, you find out about these changes only after you’ve tried to use it in a batch file.

What is your take on this new Windows 8 feature? Let me know at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.

 

Windows 8 and the App Store

In case you haven’t heard, Windows 8 will have an App Store when it appears on the scene. The overall review of the App Store is mixed. Microsoft Watch has the best write-up regarding the marketing angle for the App Store. Microsoft is definitely doing everything it can to attract developer attention, including offering a sweet deal on revenue sharing. Mary-Jo Foley has a different perspective and brings up the point that the App Store may offer private stores that businesses can use to distribute in-house applications. I find that using the App Store for this purpose strangely compelling because it offers the user a way to get applications that’s familiar. John Dvorak, on the other hand, has sounded the alarm about the closed system that Microsoft and Apple seem to be developing. It may very well be that Microsoft’s and Apple’s motives aren’t altruistic, but John also brings out a number of positives for the App Store as well. All of these, and many other, articles bring out important points about the App Store. Reading them will help you understand what the App Store is all about. Of course, you’ll want to remain mindful that these posts are all coming before the beta is even on the street (expect to see it in February 2012).

While others are concerned mainly with the needs of users and businesses, my main concern is for the developer. In Considering the New Metro Interface—Ribbon Redux? I consider the issue of the closing architecture on the developer. Microsoft has created an environment where the developer will need to tread an increasingly fine line in order to create and distribute acceptable applications. As I read the various articles about the App Store, I have to wonder whether this new form of distribution will completely stifle innovation. After all, Microsoft will become the guardian of the gate that determines whether an application is successful.

Experienced developers will face an increasingly steep learning curve with Windows 8. Not only is there the Ribbon and the Metro interface to deal with, but now developers will need to discover new ways to market their application. Microsoft hasn’t yet said that developers must use the App Store, but the writing is on the wall and smart developers will make the move sooner than later. While some of my books, such as RibbonX for Dummies, address the Ribbon and books such as Professional Windows 7 Development Guide describe the latest techniques for creating Windows applications, none of my books (nor those of other authors) are preparing developers for the reality of the triple whammy of Ribbon, Metro interface, and App Store.

Supposedly Microsoft is already creating a wealth of applications for the App Store with the help of vendors who are on Microsoft’s short list of the faithful. If you’re interested in hearing more about the App Store, you can find a special Windows Store for Developers blog that will hopefully address the many concerns that you must have. Windows 8 is not yet closed, so developers can continue creating desktop applications that are sold in stores or online, but the days of the desktop application appear numbered. If the App Store and Metro interface pan out as Microsoft hopes they will, developers should begin writing for these environments sooner than later.

Of course, I’ll continue to write books that will address your needs. Any updates of my current books will include tips on working with the Metro interface and show how to get your application listed in the App Store. In the meantime, I’d like to hear from you. What are your concerns about the direction in which Microsoft is moving? What do you need from me in the way of help to create applications for this new environment? Contact me with your questions and concerns at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.