Saturday, August 25, 2012

Making Sense of the Whole Delphi WinRT Thing

I'm not one of the "Low-Level" "Deep-Inside" Delphi smart guys. I'm just an average software developer who uses Delphi to create simple applications I sell to other average people. Oh, I learn a lot hanging around the smart guys but I seem to get lost when the discussions and comments take a deep dive.

It's no doubt that Allen Bauer's post created quite a stir around the community and the new release of XE3. I've tried to make sense of all the buzz going back and forth but at one point it just got way over my head.

Since I am just a Micro-ISV, I am looking for a simplistic answer to what this whole Delphi - WinRT crap is all about and I think I have figured it out.

I posted this on the Delphi Developer group on Facebook:
I've been trying to follow all the talk about what is going on with Delphi and WinRT ever since Allen Bauer's post went viral. I'm not as smart as most of you Delphi guys. Can someone please explain in very simplistic terms what it means when Delphi either can't or is excluded from creating WinRT apps? How does this effect a Micro-ISV like myself in terms of distribution and sales?
I received this response...
For example, you will probably not be able to sell your app through the MS Application Store, which could really hurt your exposure to prospective new customers.
Okay. So I started googling Microsoft App Store and discovered a couple interesting tidbits.

I started off reading a post by George Ou called ARM Battery Life Advantage Myth Lives On

This lead me to a post by Steven Sinofsky called Collaborating to deliver Windows RT PCs

Which lead me to another post by Steven Sinofsky called Building Windows for the ARM processor architecture

Here is what I think is going on and how it effects me and you who sell software to the average consumer.

Microsoft is leading a push to compete directly with the iPad. So, Microsoft invented a new operating system called WOA or Windows on ARM which in my opinion is a Reduced Instruction Set Computer. This new operating system is a subset of Windows 8 and will be available on the new WinRT PC's soon to be released.

It sounds like WinRT PC's (I'd prefer they were called tablets) are a separate line of personal computers designed to compete directly with the iPad market. No disk drive, no expansion slots, one or two USB ports and completely mobile. Which requires a long life battery, hence the first post I sited above. These devices will be RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computers) running the WOA which includes WinRT. This limits the applications to only those applications that conform to the WinRT subset of instructions.

All other Non-WinRT PC's will come with a full blown Windows 8 OS in addition to the scaled down WOA running WinRT. This lets you run all the currently developed Windows Applications (those created using Delphi) and any of the new applications that conform to the WinRT subset of instructions.

What does all this mean to you and I...

Given that the WinRT PC's (I'd prefer they were called tablets) have a subset of the real Windows 8 OS, the only way to install software on these machines will be through the use of the Microsoft App Store. Since Microsoft controls this store they will make sure that any app in the store will run without problems on the new WinRT machines.

The bottom line, we (Delphi developers) will still have a huge user base availabe to us. Not everyone will flock to these new WinRT PC's (I'd prefer they were called tablets). When EMBT finally does get the details worked out and makes it available to us... we can retool, recompile and look forward to a windfall of new WinRT customers.

Enjoy - Semper Fi
Gunny Mike