Where does a multibillion dollar software company get developers to create the first apps for its revolutionary new flagship software? Why, by recruiting college interns on their summer breaks, of course!
It’s a fact that when Microsoft was looking for sample apps for Windows 8, they tapped that very workforce. And a session at the company’s first BUILD conference titled, “Windows Interns: Our Summer of Apps” gave the youthful coders a chance to describe their experiences as the first developers working in Microsoft’s next operating system. (Check out our hands-on with the Windows 8 preview.)
Microsoft’s John Lam, calling himself the “interns’ den mother” introduced each young programmer, each of whom went on to describe how he or she built their app and show some of the more interesting code involved. The recurring theme of their remarks was that they had anticipated some aspect of their project with trepidation, but it turned out to be made simple by Microsoft’s new programming model.
Intern Ted Driggs, wrote a line of business application for Windows 8 using C#, a language business developers would be more familiar with than the Web languages Microsoft is talking up for WIndows 8 development. “We really focused heavily on how to make [our app] authentic to a line of business,” Driggs said.
When I asked about what was difficult in the process, Driggs replied that when the interns were writing code, Microsoft was still finalizing the APIs. “So we had a little bit of churn,” he said.
Poorva Singal, a senior at Olin College in Massachusetts, wrote the WordHunt game included with Windows 8. The challenge of building this app was that it needed to use networking capabilities to handle two-player games. “I came into Microsoft not knowing anything about networking,” Singal said. “But it was actually made pretty simple with all the APIs that Microsoft’s created. It was actually not as hard as I thought. We finished the core of the networking within a week.”
So while wizened older programmers may have apprehensions about what the new Metro apps and WinRT will mean for their day-to-day work, at least the newest generation of developers seem ready for the tasks and opportunities that WIndows 8 represents.
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