Introduction to Windows Store Apps

Windows Store App is the new type of application introduced with Windows 8. In this article we will see what Windows Store apps are all about. We will also discuss what tools we need to develop Windows Store apps.

Windows Store apps is a new type of application introduced in Windows 8. So first let's understand what a Windows Store app is. Windows Store apps have the following features.

Runs on a variety of devices: Windows Store apps runs on Windows 8 devices. The apps will usually be available on any device running Windows 8. The actual hardware does not matter.

Brand new look and feel: Unlike the usual desktop apps, a Windows Store app has a single window that fills the entire screen by default, to avoid distractions.

Touch experience: Windows Store apps work consistently with a variety of input sources, including touch, pen, mouse, and keyboard input. It provides a unique and distinctive touch experience that is more comfortable to use than the mouse.

App contracts: App contracts are used by the users and applications to seamlessly search across and share content among various apps.

New controls: Windows Store apps provide several new controls that make it easier to create a great user experience. Two of these controls are the App Bar and the Charms Bar.

App Bar: This is outside of the main app window. The app bar is the main command interface for your app.

Charms Bar: The Charms Bar is a specific and consistent set of buttons in every app: search, share, connect, settings, and start.

Tiles instead of icons: When the user installs the Windows Store app, it shows up as a tile on the Start Screen instead of an icon as in traditional applications. The application can deliver content through its tile, even when it's not running. These are called the live tiles. Using these live tiles the app can provide useful information to the user, while minimizing battery usage.

Windows Store: You can sell your Windows Store app in the Windows Store and the Windows Store will make it available to millions of customers around the world.

Users acquire the app from the Windows Store as an app package. App packages have the file extension ".appx". Each package contains a manifest and other files that are part of the app. Windows Store apps that need programmatic access to user resources such as the documents library or other devices such as a printer, must declare the appropriate capability. At the time of submitting your app to the Windows Store, the Windows Store app is checked for the declared capabilities to match the description of your app.

The Windows Store app undergoes the following states during its lifecycle.

Running Application: this state is entered whenever it is launched. Also a suspended application can be resumed and enter this state.

Not Running: After an app has been closed by the user, it's suspended and terminated, entering the NotRunning state within about 10 seconds.

Suspended: An app can be suspended when the user switches away from it or when Windows encounters a low power state.

The preceding are some of the important features of Windows Store apps. Now let's see what you need to create Windows Store apps.

You need the following tools to develop Windows Store apps. Note that Windows Store apps runs only on Windows 8.

Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2012: Visual Studio is all you need to create and deploy a Windows Store app. Visual Studio provides a number of predefined project templates to help create various types of Windows Store apps.

Blend: This is another tool you can use to create Windows Store apps. It is suitable for creating great-looking user interfaces for the Windows Store app.

Apart from the preceding tools, you need a developer license for developing Windows Store apps.

Visual Studio and Blend are designed to work together effectively. You can move easily between them to develop the Windows Store app.

When you create an app, the first thing you need to do is decide which language to use. You can choose JavaScript, Visual Basic, Visual C#, or Visual C++. The descision of which language to choose depends upon which language you are comfortable with.

The .NET Framework provides a subset of managed types that you can use to create Windows Store apps using C# or Visual Basic. This subset of managed types is called the .NET for Windows Store apps.

You use these types along with the types from the Windows Runtime API to create Windows Store apps.

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