Mobility is one of the major themes of Windows Vista®. Support for mobile computers—notebooks, laptops, Tablet PCs, and ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs)—is woven into almost all subsystems in Windows Vista, most notably power management, hardware device support, presentation, and networking.
In businesses, universities, government, and the home, today's mobile devices give users more flexibility in how they work, collaborate, learn, and play. For example, instead of being tied to a desk and an office, information workers can take their portable computer with them to have anywhere access to their documents and personal computing resources. In addition, mobile workers with wireless connectivity can maintain a virtual presence in their workplace to continue normal activities, such as reading email, working on shared documents, and accessing corporate information and computing resources. Essentially, workers can take their office experience with them where ever they travel.
The trend is evident: year after year, worldwide shipments of mobile computers have increased, whereas desktop shipments have declined. In the United States, mobile PC sales (in dollars) surpassed desktops in 2005. Mobile PCs and handheld computing devices (including Windows Mobile 5.0-based devices) made up about 40% of the worldwide computer market at the start of 2006, and the market is growing more rapidly than desktops. In developed nations, the trend is even more pronounced. The Japanese market, where a premium is put on space requirements, smaller form-factor devices like mobile PCs are strongly preferred. The new UMPC represents a new form factor when the smallest size and portability are required without sacrificing the Windows Vista experience.
Smaller computing devices that have more modest resources may use Windows Mobile operating system instead of Windows Vista. For more information, visit the Windows Mobile Web site.
Mobile PCs present challenges to application developers not encountered on desktop computers. These challenges include power management, network awareness, offline access to important data, multiple displays, grab-and-go docking and frequent peripheral changes, and readability. Windows Vista assists developers of mobile applications with a number of new and improved features and technologies. (However, keep in mind that there often are compelling reasons to use many of these technologies on desktop machines and even on enterprise servers.) This section will look at the following topics.
General Considerations for Client Development
The increased adoption of mobile and tablet PCs, and the integration of these technologies within Windows Vista translate into additional considerations for developers of all client applications in the areas of power management, network availability and use, data access and synchronization, display complexity, and alternate input mechanisms.
Windows Vista represents a superior platform for mobile and Tablet PC because of the many infrastructural improvements made to the base operating system, including security and networking improvements, better power management, and enhanced hardware support.
Microsoft Windows SideShow is a new Windows Vista platform that supports small auxiliary displays and low-powered computing devices. These devices will enable the user to receive timely notifications, access information from the PC, and control application functionality without (re)starting a full Windows session. The SideShow API enables developers to create small applications or extend existing applications to communicate with Windows SideShow-compatible devices.
Pen and Ink API Changes
Windows Vista integrates support for pen input into the base operating system. It contains a new version of the pen input subsystem, which also includes support for ink analysis. Associated with this new subsystem is an improved API. In parallel, the .NET Framework 2.0 added a number of new namespaces, including Microsoft.StylusInput and Microsoft.Ink to support pen input and ink strokes.
WPF Support for Pen Input
Windows Presentation Foundation was designed to support pen input. In fact, it can treat a stylus as a mouse (using its mouse API) or as true pen input. The former provides even applications not designed for pen input some basic stylus support. Several controls and classes, such as InkCanvas and Stroke, make pen-enabling an application straightforward.
Developing for Speech
Like pen support, Windows Vista integrates support for voice recognition and synthesis into the base operating system. This natural language user interface technology is finding increasing use to increase accessibility for the disabled, for gaming and simulation applications, and for non-traditional form factor computers. Vista contains integrated speech capabilities as well as new native and managed APIs for speech-enabling an application.
For more information, see Developing for Speech.