One of the problems in producing low cost Windows 8 devices is that the hardware required often brings the cost of the device too high. Why this problem ? Because a good bit of software does not run well unless you have a good bit of horsepower in the computer. It really should not be so and let me explain why.
The typical developer PC
The mainstream development tools (aka. Visual Studio) require so much horsepower that the typical software developer has a far above average PC. I downloaded Visual Studio Express and it took a good 2 1/2 gigabytes of diskspace just to install it. I doubt very much the average developer could use an Atom powered PC with just 2 gig ram for their primary development PC. Now if the development tools need so much power, what about the software created with it ? Do developers even fully appreciate how limited the average consumer PC is compared to what they develop on ? It is a valid question.
PowerBasic and EZGUI, tiny by comparison
I used the PowerBasic compiler to build my GUI tools. My current development PC is a Vista Home PC, which I upgraded to a Pentium D CPU and 2 gigabytes ram. The only reason I am still not using my Windows XP PC for development is that it crashed a couple of times and was not reliable any more, so I switched PC’s. My Vista computer was upgraded not for the benefit of my development tools, but because I used it for some early testing of Windows 8 (swapped out the harddrive and installed Windows 8 Build Preview on it). I am back to Vista now though.
When working on my XP computer I only had a Intel Celeron CPU with an upgrade to 768 megabytes ram. I actually worked on that PC for some years with only 256 meg ram. Before that I actually was developing on a Windows 95 (yes, 95) PC which I souped up to big 256 meg ram (a lot for 95).
My current development tools, the PowerBasic compiler and my GUI engine (EZGUI 5.0) only require about 20 megabytes of disk space. Imagine developing on a PC and only needing 20 megabytes to install the development tools and only needing 256 megabytes of ram to work with it. I could run my development tools on any PC from Windows XP to Windows 8.
The entire GUI engine (DLL’s) I built is only about 1 megabyte in size. The Visual Designer I created with it for as a RAD development tool only requies about another 1 megabyte of space. The rest is documentation and sample code.
Compile time when using the PowerBasic compiler is only a few seconds for the largest source code file I need to compile. The EZGUI runtime is only about 45,000 lines of code, not counting all the Windows API headers required to compile it.
Add to this, when an application uses the WIN32 API, it does not need any dot.net runtimes. For 3D, I use OpenGL and it is supported even on legacy PC’s. No large operating system frameworks required.
So this is why I work with the WIN32 API and use PowerBasic. Small footprint applications means they run on even the most minimal of hardware. If more software was like this, then Windows 8 devices (PC’s, tablets) could be less expensive requiring less powerful hardware.
For more information about PowerBasic see: http://www.powerbasic.com
For more information about EZGUI 5.0 Professional see: http://cwsof.com/ezgui5promain.html