Microsoft Dynamics GP “12” – Our Windows 8 Vision

The Microsoft Dynamics GP team, when considering the creation of our upcoming web client user experience, looked at many technologies that would offer us an architecture for future growth, a feature set that was strong with controls and flexibility, and one that provided us a performance model that benefitted our customers. 

Silverlight was a clear standout product in this research.  In fact, we’ll be using Silverlight 5 features as it ships, specifically Silverlight 5 has been architected to deeply support business application development far deeper than other similar toolsets.  

Windows 8 is an amazing product and has gained a lot of recent attention, especially around Tiles and Apps.  Those work particularly well in the consumer experience, such as playing media, checking on the local weather, or browsing websites.  Metro-styled apps, with their “clean” interface and open feel, might not be the best interface for a business application that has deep functionality sets, complex transaction windows, and deep reporting requirements.  What is great about the Windows 8 operating system is that it supports multiple styles of applications, and we are making a conscious decision to develop on the one we feel is best suited for business applications. 

The Windows 8 platform has also garnered a lot of press around the new browsing experience that currently is slated to not have plug-in support, such as Silverlight.  What might not be evident to everyone is that XAML, the rendering technology for Silverlight is an integral part of the Windows 8 operating system.  And this really flows with where the browsing experience is likely heading – where the browser experience is inherent to the operating system and no longer remains a separate application to run. 

The current usage of Internet Explorer as an application running inside of the OS is something that is being re-architected into the always-on, always-connected metaphor where a program such as Internet Explorer becomes irrelevant.  In the future, you’ll be browsing right from within the operating system itself, which means the choice of browser, or technology that it supports, will change to that of what the operating system inherently contains.  In our case, it will have XAML.  We are focused on those technologies that, when market focus shifts to those devices running an always on, always connected OS, we’ll be able to minimize our efforts to get on that platform.  By supporting the toolset that we are supporting today, we are using the Microsoft development platform to deliver a solid experience today, but also giving us the path to upgrade to those devices in the future. 

As we all know, technology and toolsets change over time, and our Silverlight investment, with its available controls, the realized performance, and the architecture it offers, is the right choice for the Microsoft Dynamics GP “12” release.  Moving to Windows 8 will require most existing applications and functionality to be ported, whether Silverlight, HTML, or Javascript. 

Jonathan Allen explains this well:

“The companies most invested in Silverlight are actually in the best position. These companies have been adopting Silverlight, and Flex, for use in internal applications. This sort of application generally have no HTML and simply use the browser as a delivery mechanism. As such these applications can be ported to the Metro runtime with surprisingly little effort. A new distribution mechanism will be needed, but something like the Windows app store for enterprises is undoubtedly in the works.”

 

Jay Manley

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