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Should You Hop on Microsoft Metro?

iStock 000017696563XSmallThere's a lot of discussion about Microsoft Metro, the new programming environment Microsoft was talking up this week at the Build Conference -- and it could have a big impact on developers.

The news is that when Windows 8 comes out, you will need to develop apps in the Metro style. This means essentially like Windows Phone 7 with its tile interface, and that appears to be whether we are talking desktop, phone or tablet apps.

Unlike Apple or Google, Microsoft has taken the approach of building a single XAML/HTML5 development platform for use across the board on desktop, mobile and tablets. You can read an overview Microsoft's take on this on their web site.

Whether you think this is a good approach or not is up to your personal taste I suppose, but it does present a significant development challenge for shops that need to come up with the skill set to create these new Windows applications.

Enterprise IT is rarely on the cutting, but things change so quickly these days. Metro is yet another challenge to your planning, resource allocation and deliverable schedules. After watching HP pull the rug out from under developers recently when it quite suddenly abandoned webOS, it's hard to know when and if to jump on board, and it's just another level of uncertainty that IT shops supporting Microsoft products must deal with moving forward. 

If you're planning on moving slowly (and that may wise until this shakes out), you might not have to deal with Windows 8 deployment for some time to come. For now, it's not even clear when it will be released, although all signs point to some time next yearbut you should at the very least be thinking about  the fact that Microsoft has made a radical change to its development environment and you need to be prepared.

And it's not just the development environment that's changing, it's also a complete makeover in the look and feel of Windows itself, and with great reports on Windows 7 stability, I'm wondering how many companies are going to want to rock the boat and go with Windows 8 until all the kinks get worked out.

Regardless, when you're faced with a new development platform on top of radically altered OS, you may want to let a third-party consulting firm figure it out for you, then let them help bring your people on board slowly.

It's hard to know how this will all play out in the end, but for now, it's worth thinking about Windows 8 and Metro and how it will affect your company moving forward, and what kind of resources you'll be needing to make the transition.
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