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June 26, 2013

Get started building apps on Windows 8.1 Preview

Today is an exciting day for Windows developers. At //build/ 2013 this morning, we announced Windows 8.1 Preview and Visual Studio 2013 Preview are available today. Windows 8.1 Preview has many new features that’ll make it easier for you to build rich and powerful apps for your customers. You can get Windows 8.1 Preview by going to and then go to the Windows Dev Center Downloads page to get new SDKs, tools, and code samples.

After you have the new bits I’m sure you’ll want to check out all the new developer features that are available. The Windows 8.1 Preview Product Guide for Developers provides you a high-level overview of what’s new. Then check out the feature guide to get feature-by-feature overview with pointers to the new how-to documentation so you can dig in.

We’ve enhanced many of the existing features you may have used in Windows 8 and we’ve also introduced some brand new ones that help you complete new scenarios within your app. For example we’ve completely revamped the WebView control so it supports more scenarios and is easier to integrate into your apps (We heard your feedback – no more airspace issues!). Plus the WebView is now available to apps written in HTML and JavaScript! We’ve introduced new controls, like the Hub control, that make it easier to create beautiful layout and navigation experiences in your app. Additionally Windows now supports more tile sizes and more flexible window layouts that let users multi-task between your apps better.

It isn’t just about software. It’s now easier to interface your apps with devices that Windows knows about, such as scanners, 3D printers, smart cards and more. We’ve also made it easier to communicate with your own custom devices via our new WinRT APIs for Bluetooth, HID, and USB without the need to write your own drivers.

For those of you out there that have existing Window 8 apps, you’re probably wondering how you can migrate your apps over to Windows 8.1 Preview. While apps built for Windows 8 still run on Windows 8.1, you’ll need to migrate your apps to take advantage of all these new features and give your customers the experience they’ll expect when Windows 8.1 is available. We’ve tried to make the migration experience as straightforward as possible for you. Depending on the features your app supports, you might need to make some additional API and functionality changes to your apps. Our migration guide steps you through the process of updating your apps.

The guide helps you make the necessary changes to get your app running properly on Windows 8.1 Preview.

  • Retargeting your project in Visual Studio 2013 Preview.
  • Handling the various changes made to the WinRT and UI (XAML or HTML) platforms.
  • Supporting the new fluid window sizes.

The guide also contains helpful tips on how to use Windows 8.1 Preview to improve your app and how to take full advantage of the new features and controls. You’ll want to take a look at applying this guidance to all your existing Windows 8 apps.

I hope you’re as excited as we are about the new features in Windows 8.1 Preview and excited to build better apps that delight your users and attract more customers. To get started, download Windows 8.1 Preview, read the product guide, check out the feature guide, and use the migration guide to get your current apps ready for Windows 8.1. Stay tuned to this blog for updates from the conference and also check out the Channel 9 coverage to get live streaming of keynote talks and view the complete set of talks after the conference ends.

Welcome to Window 8.1 Preview!

– Ian LeGrow, Group Program Manager, Windows.