Windows 8 is here (or at least very close) and that was the main feature of this morning’s key note.  Antoine LeBlond started off by apologizing to the IT professionals since he planned on showing code.  I’m not sure if IT Pros are that easily confused or why you would need such a disclaimer.  Developers do real work, IT Pros just play with toys (just kidding).

The highlights of the Windows 8 keynote for me started with some of the UI design elements that I had not seen when I was shown one of the Build tablets.  Specifically I liked the AppBar features that we have become used to with Windows Phone and some of the gesture features.  Even though they have been available on other platforms before I think Microsoft really got them right.

Two other great features of Windows 8 that they demonstrated were the Hyper-V capabilities and the ability to run Windows 8 anywhere from a USB key.  My jaw dropped through the floor seeing a feature rich OS boot off of a thumb drive. WOW!  I also can’t wait to get rid of dual booting just to run Hyper-V images when developing.

The morning continued with a session on Metro XAML development with Tim Heuer.  While included a lot of great XAML Metro demos, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the things I found out about Visual Studio 2012.  Finding out that Blend is now integrated with VS2012 was a nice addition after working with them as separate applications was an encouraging start.

Moving on to Metro he introduced the nugget that WinRT is Async everywhere.  How deep this model goes will be an interesting thing to find out as I learn more about developing for the platform.  Thankfully he followed that up with a couple of new keywords, await and async, that eliminates a lot of plumbing that has been required in the past for asynchronous transactions.

Tim also related that since the Metro framework is relatively small and most apps will use a significant amount of it the entire surface is referenced by default.  This is a contrast to adding namespace and assemblies one after another as we normally do.

This was such a power packed session that I can’t detail it all here so here is the teaser list.

  1. New icons in VS2012 for extension methods
  2. Emulator/simulator testing features for gestures
  3. Portable class libraries
  4. XAML no longer managed code

And so much more …