Sep 19 2012

Why develop Windows 8 apps and how to get started

Preface for Waterloo students : I'm glad you followed my link and came to check out this page! I'll be one of your Microsoft Student Partners here at Waterloo. My role is to help you leverage the most out of Microsoft platforms - namely, making apps on Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, etc. I will help you with coding questions, general questions and if I don't know an answer, I'll go get it for you. Feel free to send me and email at anytime at!. Finally, thank you every who attended on Thursday, it was nice to see TC 2218 full!

The why

If you're already interested in making Windows 8 apps, you can skip right to the how section. If not, why would you be interested? Is it going to profitable? Let's consider this calculation, starting with the fact that there are more than a billion Windows users on this planet.

  • Assume only 10% of people ever upgrade to Windows 8 at all. The actual number will be larger, with W8 tablets and XP losing support.
  • Assume only half of those people will ever even look at the Windows Store.
  • With this estimation very much on the low end, you are still guaranteed to have at the very least a market of 50 million people. More likely in the hundreds of millions.

This is just to state that you won't have to worry about having a market. If you think iOS or Android is a better market, then by all means you should choose the platform that will best bring your app to stardom. For the next few months, however, W8 has one huge incentive :

It's empty.

At the time of this article, there's only a couple hundred apps. That means you can be the first to implement a certain idea. For example, there's no graphing app right now. Nothing that will allow me to plot a graaph. You make a good looking one? I'd buy it.

Plus, porting code to Windows Phone 8 once it comes out will be incredibly easy, since it will run on the same API. Double to opportunity for the same amount of effort.

Finally, you can enter your app in the Imagine Cup. That could get you 50,000$ and a trip to Russia if you're good.

The how

HTML5, Javascript, C#, Silverlight, C++, DirectX, Silverlight. What's common about these technologies? You can make any app on Windows 8 with these.

For students reading this post, your school is most likely registered to Dreamspark. It essentially means this :


Waterloo students click this link then Sign In.

You can get Windows 8 for free (even though it's not released to the public yet), Visual Studio Ultimate 2012, etc. In addition, you get a free Windows Store developer account to publish anything you want.

Making Windows 8 apps isn't a hugely complicated task. Most of the interface can be created just with drag and drop. However, I do recommend you learn programming first if you don't already know. You can cover the basics of what you need to know in 2 days though. I personally recommend doing lesson 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 10 of this tutorial, but you can go ahead and look for any tutorial you want for one of the previously mentioned language.

Finally, to start learning how to make Windows 8 apps, there's plenty of documentation on Microsoft's website, so I won't rewrite everything here. Enjoy!

P.S. Once you do make an app, send me an email! I'd love to see what you guys can come up with. Windows Store also has a fairly high quality standard in the sense that your app can be refused for missing a privacy policy, so I'll happy to go through your app with you.