Supporting Windows 8.1

31 July 2013

Unless you’ve been taking a diving holiday in the Caribbean since before the //build/ conference (in which case, why didn’t you invite me?), you’ll know all about the Windows 8.1 (code-named ‘Blue’), at least from a user experience perspective. Well, it should come a no surprise that there are also changes to the run-time and the APIs for AppStore (aka, Metro) apps to support these UX improvements.

Windows 8.1 Start Screen [Image (c) Microsoft]Among these enhancements and changes are:

  • A new application resizing mechanism.
  • Faster XAML load due to the ability to precompile to a binary format.
  • On-demand style loading.

To meet all these enhancements and changes that will appear in Windows 8.1 (remember, it’s currently only in beta with a ‘late August’ RTM date), we will provide you with a new version of the DevExpress XAML controls that target this new version of the OS.

In porting the controls to Windows 8.1, of necessity we had to make some major changes to allow your AppStore apps to leverage the new APIs and UX features. These improvements include:

  • Supporting the new application view states.
  • Optimizing the controls to use the new UX features of Windows 8.1.
  • Ensuring the DevExpress Project Templates and Item Templates are completely compatible with the new features, such as app resizing.

Naturally, anyone reading the above is going to have some…

Compatibility Questions

Are these enhanced controls going to be a minor version of 13.1?
No, they will be tagged as version 13.2. So, assuming that Windows 8.1 will RTM in August, we will immediately release a separate installer for the final version 13.2 of the Windows XAML controls. They will remain in a separate installer until we release the full version 13.2 in late 2013, when we will merge them back into the main installer again.

Will the version 13.2 of the DevExpress Windows XAML controls work with Windows 8?
No, they won’t. They will have been optimized to work with Windows 8.1, and will not work with Windows 8 (certain APIs will be missing, for example). So the rule here is: if you are writing AppStore apps for Windows 8, stick to 13.1. Note though that presumably users will be upgrading quickly to Windows 8.1 since it’ll be available in the Windows AppStore.

Can I use version 13.1 in Windows 8.1, once that’s released by Microsoft in August?
Yes, you can still use version 13.1 of the DevExpress Windows XAML controls in Windows 8.1 in compatibility mode. However, note that, in this case, you may encounter warnings caused by changes in Windows 8.1 API. You will also notice that the non-optimized controls load slower than the optimized ones.

As always, if you need clarification, please email support at support@devexpress.com, or me directly at julianb@devexpress.com. You can learn more about DevExpress Windows 8 XAML controls here.

If you'd like to try it out, you'll need to use a PC or VM running Windows 8.1 Preview, with Visual Studio 2013 (preview) installed. You can download the beta here. If you own a license to our Windows XAML package (or DXperience or Universal), this beta install will be available from your DevExpress account page.

1 comment(s)
Andriy Zhurba

Hello,

will this feature be available only for Windows 8.1 controls? - Faster XAML load due to the ability to precompile to a binary format.

Many thanks!

Andriy

16 August, 2013

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