Many people don’t actually understand the current state of the WinRT API. Windows Runtime, not to be confused with the ARM processor only build called Windows RT, is an application programming interface like Win32. However, it is very primitive at the moment. It is brand new and it will take a long time to mature and take on the features that win32 and the other api’s like .net has now. In a particular way Windows 8 series of operating systems and WinRT is very much in the position that the original Longhorn would have been in if it had not been reset.
Longhorn was to, among so many dreams that have either been partially realized or not come at all, be the start of transitioning Windows to an all managed code based largely off the then new .net framework and the deprecation of the mess that is win32. The original .net plan is very close to what is going on now 10 years later albeit updated. People like to dis Windows Vista for not being what Longhorn had promised or whatever but if Longhorn had happened the way it was suppose to we would be in virtually the same situation we are today with the Windows 8 Series of operating systems.
Yes Longhorn failed and development was reset and we got Windows Vista which was far more traditional but laying the foundation for the future. Windows 8, however, is very akin to a Longhorn Mark II and this time Microsoft has the foundation that Longhorn didn’t have while being based on NT 5x code. It will take a long time to get us to a mature system that we can create programs for. The metro design was created not to be something new but something different and within the current capabilities of this extremely primitive and new api that Microsoft is trying to create to replace win32 and other technologies.
We will be in a world of pain for quite a while but there is hope that perhaps the Metro design will be refined and most of all that as this transition happens that WinRT API will evolve and give us the capabilities we cling to in today’s Windows operating systems. Such as the stacking window model and desktop paradigm. I still believe these are superior than the tiled window model but frankly WinRT is not capable or even have a concept of a window model and isn’t even a full subsystem yet.
Some may say “What about Stardock’s ModernMix?” and while ModernMix is a fantastic program that solves alot of today’s problems it is merely a hack on the off screen rendering capabilities of WinRT/DWM bringing a textured surface to a win32 spawned window. These things eventually will make a return we hope but for right now from a logical sense we have to move forward and keep hope alive.
However, Microsoft can’t do what is possible in Win32 yet in pure WinRT but when it comes to a point that they can and don’t then we will be in a better position to judge that. Until then we still have what is left of what we currently and in the past call Windows to help us along and them for that matter.
There is alot going on with Windows and the near term future is going to be hard for everyone. But in the long term it could work out for the best, we hope!