Microsoft Surface : A new platform for mobile HTML5 apps?


Today is launch day for Windows 8 and the many laptop / tablet hybrids that will come along with it. The slightly in your face metro UI is a big gamble for MS but it certainly looks touch friendly so I am very keen to give it a go on a touchscreen ASAP.

Along with the new full blown desktop OS Microsoft is also releasing Windows 8 RT, its first foray into the ARM based space. This should lead to devices with, among other things, greater battery life, but it also means that RT based devices will not be able to run all of your existing desktop software. Nevertheless, here at Caplin we aren’t often involved in building desktop applications, we are all about cross platform web apps and so the release of a browser or device always creates a bit of a buzz.

Microsoft Surface

Microsoft is also moving headstrong into the hardware space with the Microsoft Surface, a rather attractive new tablet whose cover / keyboard accessory is one of the main selling points. There will be plenty of reviews for you to read today (and my preorder hasn’t shipped yet!) so what I will be looking at as soon as it arrives is whether the Microsoft Surface and IE10 on Windows 8 RT provide us with yet another platform over which to successfully deliver our web based trading applications. Some questions that immediately spring to mind are:

  1. How does JavaScript perform compared to an iPAD 3?
  2. Are CSS3 transitions nice and smooth?
  3. Does IE10 on mobile have a nice feeling ‘intertia scrolling’ for elements with overflow:auto?
  4. Is position:fixed fully supported?
  5. Can I easily add a ‘live tile’ to the home screen which will launch my webapp fullscreen? If so can I push data into it without having a windows store app?
  6. How do I debug my webapp on the surface?
  7. Windows RT’s data connection is always on (sort of). Does that mean I will be able to push real time trading alerts into my webapp while the device is asleep?
  8. Does having the physical keyboard cover aid the usability of our apps?
  9. How much more work do we need to do to support the surface over the ipad?
  10. What are the advantages and disadvantages of simply delivering an app over a url compared with bundling it up into something for the Windows Store?

What are your expectations for mobile webapps on the Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 RT, do you have any questions or concerns?

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