A few weeks ago I attended an App Excellence Lab which I had previously booked at the WP7 – W8 conference in London a few months ago. This meant a trip to Microsoft’s UK headquarters, which was an experience in and of itself. The headquarters is located in the Thames Valley Park in Reading, a plot formally owned entirely by Oracle. When Oracle realized they had no use for such a large area of land they sold it off to a holding company who allowed other tech companies to move in including Microsoft, Websense and Computacenter – creating England’s mini Silicon Valley.
My appointment was in building 3 of Microsoft’s campus and you can see the reception in the above photo. Once I had gone to the desk to get my security card – which allowed me to move around the building for that day – and had got hold of the wireless password (always important!) I proceeded to wait for my mentor to arrive and take me to the lab.
Once he did to I was shown to quite a nice office in the Microsoft Tech Center, where we worked though a tick sheet of requirements for the Windows 8 marketplace and compared them to what I had achieved with my application. I haven’t as of yet got any of the front end done, but my ideas all seemed to fit within Marketplace guidelines. To help me produce a good user experience, which is what the lab was all about, we had a look at some well designed applications together and worked on an improvement of the design I had worked on with Andrew Spooner at the WP7 – W8 conference.
After this we had a bit of a mini Question and Answer session in which I could ask any questions I had about Windows 8, the Windows 8 ecosystem and developing for both, I learnt a lot and would recommend an AEL to any aspiring Windows 8 Developer for this alone!
Once all my questions had been answered we discussed the next steps, which include a virtual App Excellence Lab once my application’s front end is finished and then hopefully I will recieve a token which will allow me early access to the Windows 8 store, well before general availability on the 26th of October.
As an interesting side note, the day I went for my Lab was the day all Microsoft Employees got an email telling them to stop the use of the word “Metro” in regards to the Windows 8 Design language. The news didn’t come out until the next day, but it seems there has been confusion ever since about what Windows RT apps are going to be called for marketing purposes. Personally I think “Windows 8 Experience Apps” is too long, and “Windows 8 Apps” will make no sense assuming they will be compatible with Windows 9. Similarly “Windows RT” isn’t exactly a marketing friendly term. The term I like to most is “Modern Experience App” or “Modern App”, shortened to “MX”, which is what Microsoft have called their own Windows RT app for OneNote. 🙂