Windows* 8 Development – Environment and Resources

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Are you interested in developing applications for Windows 8? Or are you interested in adding some of the new features and APIs offered by Windows 8 to a current Windows 7 application? A lot of documentation exists on these subjects, but you may be feeling lost on where to begin. In this overview article, we will tell you about the tools and resources that will help you start coding right away.

The list below represents the best information about Windows 8 development, from features to coding, debugging, and simulating the final device. We will also talk about support for different languages and packaging.

Development Environment

  • Visual Studio* 2012

    The official development environment for Windows 8 is Visual Studio 2012 (VS 2012), an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) created by Microsoft, and this web site has the latest versions, updates, and information. VS 2012 is the first version to support the latest APIs and new features.

  • Develop Windows Store apps using Visual Studio 2012 (Windows)

    This is a great place to start if you don't have experience with Visual Studio or software development. This article explains the process of creating applications using Visual Studio 2012, as well as highlighting many of its features.

  • Templates to speed up your app development

    Here's another great resource to get started fast with Windows 8 development. This article explains how to use the templates available in VS 2012 for application development.

  • Windows Runtime - Windows 8 new APIs

    The newest sets of APIs introduced with Windows 8 are called Windows Runtime, or WinRT, and provide easy access to many resources in the operating system. You probably will also be happy to know that a subset of these are available for both Windows 8 Store apps and Desktop apps.

Games with Unity*

  • Developing Windows Store games with Unity

    A popular framework for developing games, Unity has an excellent set of resources popularly used by many developers. With backward compatibility with Windows 7, any game developed with Unity should be immediately compatible in the Windows 8 desktop mode. The presentation on this page indicates Unity is in "the process of leveraging existing Unity content to the Windows 8 platforms."

Desktop Apps Development

  • Windows Store versus Desktop apps

    One of the first questions you may be asking is which environment to use—do I want to develop Windows Store or Desktop apps? This article can help you  understand the differences.

  • Using WinRT from Desktop applications

    If you want to create Desktop applications using WinRT, you will need to change a few settings in VS 2012. In this Intel Developer Zone article , you can find out how to do that. After changing these settings, you can use the WinRT APIs in the same way as you would when creating Windows Store applications.

  • Compatibility and Certification for Windows 8 Desktop

    You can list your Desktop applications in the Windows Store. This page gives you information on how to certify, register, and submit your application.

Programming Languages

  • WinRT Programming Languages: C++/CX, .NET(C# or Visual Basic*) and JavaScript*
    Microsoft provides roadmaps for creating Windows Store applications in those programming languages that are officially supported for Windows 8 development. In these roadmaps, you can find information about developing for Windows 8 (guidelines for design and specific features like controls, layouts, and more), and you can download the tools.
  • Other Languages: Adobe AIR* and Java*
    Some languages do not support WinRT.

Testing and Debugging

  • Running Windows Store apps in the simulator

    This MSDN article covers how to debug and test Desktop and Windows Store apps in Visual Studio. Using the Simulator mode, you can run your applications and even simulate touch and gesture, as well as location. You can simulate the Windows 8 Modern UI* environment in a sandbox to test your application's behaviour without affecting the rest of the system. You can also find out how well your application handles suspend/resume situations, which must meet minimum standards enforced by Windows 8.


  • Packaging for Windows 8 Store apps

    Visual Studio also helps you to package your Windows Store application for distribution through Windows Store. This applies only to Windows Store apps, not Desktop apps.

We've told you about a few of the major sources of information available online, and we hope this helps to quickly get you up to speed. If you know other great articles or web sites about Windows 8 development environments, please share them with us in the comments!

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