Windows 8.1 Store Apps and Visual Studio 2013 Preview (#1 of Many, Many, Many)

It’s taken me a little while to start to catch up but I wanted to begin adding a few posts about new features and changes to existing functionality coming with Windows 8.1 for the Windows Store app developer.

For me, there are perhaps three main things that are changing here and it’s worth saying that all of these are currently marked “preview” so you might want to put them into a virtualised environment or onto a machine where you’re comfy installing preview software (although some of these bits do have “go-live” licenses).

The first thing that’s changing, of course, is Windows itself with the 8.1 Preview having been available for quite a few weeks now and heading towards RTM (although there’s no date for that available yet as far as I know – you’ll have to keep watching the main news feeds and the Windows Blog to get the latest on that).

You can grab the Preview from the web and there’s a really good guide document that I’d strongly recommend having a look through while you’re perhaps installing the preview;

Windows 8.1 Preview Product Guide for Developers

and I’d also recommend this break down of new APIs from MSDN;

Windows 8.1 Preview: New APIs and Features for Developers

If you’re a .NET person then when you’re installing Windows 8.1 Preview you’d be interested to know that you’re also installing .NET Framework V4.5.1 Preview at the same time – the two ship together and you can find a good write up of what’s new in .NET 4.5.1 over on the BCL blog site;

Announcing the .NET Framework 4.5.1 Preview

To sit on top of that, naturally, you’d want a copy of Visual Studio and Visual Studio 2013 Preview is the right thing to grab if you’re looking to start build Windows Store apps for 8.1 or upgrading existing 8.0 Store apps (note – the Windows Store is not yet accepting 8.1 apps so while you can experiment you can’t actually publish just yet).

For Visual Studio, you can grab a version of that from here. There’s an accompanying blog post from around the time of BUILD 2013 on the Visual Studio blog;

Visual Studio 2013 Preview Available Now

but perhaps better for me is the blog post that went out on Soma’s blog;

Build 2013 and Visual Studio 2013 Preview

which breaks things down by functional area and that’s supplemented by a lot of the other recent posts on the Visual Studio blog and the ALM/TFS blog which relate to 2013;

The Visual Studio Blog

Visual Studio ALM Blog

I’d also highlight the MSDN page which talks about the new features of Visual Studio from the point of view of a Windows Store app developer – it’s a pretty long list though;

Tool Changes for Windows 8.1 Store Apps in Visual Studio 2013

To go alongside that reading material, there’s also a lot of video material up on Channel 9. Some of this comes from BUILD and some of it comes from other Channel 9 areas.

In terms of BUILD sessions, I’ve watched a lot of them over the past weeks and I looked at the list that I’d watched and picked out a few – not that this is definitive but these are ones that I got value from;

But there are many more BUILD sessions that would need to be added to that list depending on what you’re planning on building – e.g. new features around geofencing or new ways of setting up background tasks and lots more examples.

What I’ll be trying to do in coming weeks is to write up short pieces around some of these features in both the frameworks and the tooling perhaps primarily from the point of view of the .NET/XAML developer but also including some JS and C++ pieces where I can. One of the challenges with talking about  Windows Store app development is that with 3 primary ways of building them (and a number of other secondary ways too) it can be a time consuming process to talk about features if you have to talk about them 3 times in the light of .NET, C++ and JS – everything multiplies up quite quickly Smile