Allow Windows 8/Windows RT users to buy and run Windows Phones Apps
The Windows Phone simulator for the existing developer tools has always been easy to use, and capable of running apps not only at full-speed, but in fact faster than what the phone hardware could do (even games that use heavy graphics).
In addition, the new windows phone developer simulator is going to be improved in the next version by running in Hyper-V, and additionally, Windows 8 will be coming with Hyper-V built in (I'm not sure about hyper-v).
So, I think the time is right to turn the existing developer Windows Phone simulator into a "consumer-friendly" version, that allows users of Windows 8 and Windows RT to buy and run Windows Phone apps on their Windows 8/RT PCs. This would benefit users (especially Windows RT users) by opening them up to around 100k apps at launch, and it benefits developers by expanding their potential user market to the millions of Windows 8/RT PCs that will be sold, in addition to the Windows Phone devices that are sold.
If this were done, I think it should be done with the user in mind first, which means it needs to be a good experience all around. But, I think this can be accomplished. Here are my ideas on some potential specifics of how it would work:
- Developers should be able to opt-out. So, for instance if they already have a windows 8 app and want to direct their users to that version fo the app, they would opt-out their phone app.
- Single-touch events would be simulated by the mouse, transparent to the app.
- Developers should be able to specify whether certain hardware is required. For instance, you could specify that your app requires multi-touch hardware, the accelerometer, or the compass. Some of this could be auto-detected by inspecting the assemblies and what APIs they used.
- By default, apps should, unless the developer changes it, default to requiring some basic hardware, like multi-touch. If the app only requires single-touch, they should be able to opt-in to allow the app to run with just a mouse simulating touch events.
- Apps should run scaled to the user's screen, and may require a certain minimum screen size.
- On a stationary screen, the user should be able to easily control whether the "simulator" is in portrait or landscape mode.
- If users are running windows 8/RT on a tablet, then the simulator should respond to the orientation that the user is running in.
- The simulator should also support an on-screen back button that is easy to use, since the back button is not supported in windows 8 tablet hardware.
- The simulator should forward the various system tasks, like launching a URL in IE10, sending an email, or taking a picture, through to the windows 8 equivalent, or if one is not available then one should be created.
Mark Orlassino commented
This idea sounds similar to BlueStacks app emulator for running Android applications on Windows 7.
@FremyCompany Don't get me wrong - I'm one of those developers that will be bringing windows 8 native apps to the marketplace in addition to my windows phone apps. I just think it CAN be done in a way that's a good experience for the user. And for the most part, the user in this case will be in the upper "tech savy" range and can understand that these are "phone" apps they are running on a tablet, and are willing to accept some minor idiosyncrasies for the benefit of access to an additional source of apps, and games in particular, not all of which will make it to win8, no matter how easy or hard it is to port.
Also, I have experience in porting apps from windows phone to windows 8. I have one app that went through the app excellence labs and received a marketplace token for, and i have two other apps that are around 70% done. I can tell you from experience that, while it is a fairly straightforward process most of the time, it is not a trivial process, and it is most definitely a ONE-WAY process. It takes time and it is essentially a redesign.
App development may just be a hobby for me, so I can spend time on anything I want to, but for others it is a real business. As such, they need to justify any time they spend in terms of return on investment. They are more likely to either abandon windows phone in favor of windows 8 (which will have a MUCH bigger user base MUCH faster), or just have different apps and not try to maintain a two-way port between the phone and the PC. That means there will always be different apps and different games on the two platforms, which means there's a justifiable reason to allow power users to run phone apps on their tablets if they want to.
All of this would be taking Microsoft a lot of time for a poor user experience in the end.
Do you know it's actually very easy for developers to create a WinRT app from their WP7 app? Most developers will take the time to convert their app to Win8, which will ensure a far better experience. Microsoft should encourage them to do so, not to be lazy and ask us to use a subpar experience on a small portion of the screen.