Monthly Archives: September 2012

OBDMobile WinRT/Metro/WP8?

Bit of a ramble…

Ok, been doing a bunch of research for my senior design project which just so happens to run along OBDMobile research and i am coming up with some future issues for OBDMobile on Windows 8 Metro side, WinRT and Windows Phone 8.

Now the desktop section of Windows 8 on non-ARM processors run just like they would on Windows 7 but Metro which is said to be using a form of WinRT, well, depends on who you ask, some say its not true WinRT but whatever the truth is doesn’t matter (some say it might be possible to port it back to Win7). Metro (WinRT) is said to be a sand-boxed environment much like Windows Phone 7/8 almost to where during development you should imagine it as being two separate systems. So you have Metro and like Windows 7.8 sitting behind it.

So with Metro sandboxed, what all can we access? Well not blue tooth SSP (serial) which i would guess means we wont be able to access it in Windows Phone 8 as well and probably not in WinRT proper. The lack of serial blue tooth access is of course making a lot of people a bit upset. A lot of things use BT SSP that are still using Windows Mobile 5/6 who was hoping to move to WP7 to then 7.5 to now 7.8 to finally WP8 who are now looking towards alternatives (Android/iOS). This includes me, what made OBDMobile work is that BT connectors are cheap, well are cheap now, and they run off simple BT serial. WiFi ones are still $100+ and there is talk of some proximity APIs but i would bet that any connector using that wont be cheap either. Now at least with Windows 8, it looks like you can still connect to ad hoc networks, and it seams that metro can still use sockets so there is a chance for OBDMobile using Wifi using Windows 8. But i dont know about the dedicated ARM tablets using “pure” WinRT. Can that connect to ad hoc? Can Windows Phone 8 connect to ad hoc? Guess once i get my replacement ram ill work on a proof of concept for OBDMobile Metro this weekend or so.

I would think that once Windows 8 and WinRT is truly out there, there will be (and has already started) a big outcry for BT SSP in Metro, with WP7 its easy to ignore because of its user base, but i dont think that will work on a much larger user base that Windows 8 and WinRT tablets will bring in.

If WinRT is made for ARM processors then what is Windows Embedded Standard 8 for? Is it running Win32 and WinRT? Is it going to be metro only? Is WinRT metro only? I keep hearing different things from different places. Another weekend project is to get WES8 up and running to see what it is.

So i guess in short, OBDMobile might be on metro for WiFi connectors only, which means it might be on WP8 for Wifi only. But who knows all of this can change in a few months once W8 hits retail.


Fall has started up along with school, have about two semesters left for my degree. Some interesting school projects lined up including a big senior design project. I tried to talk my group into working on a bigger OBDMobile but with out much luck.

One of the best things about school is MSDNAA access, and with it comes early access to Windows 8. Over the weekend i installed it onto my little Atom Netbook, and like with any new OS there are some problems. All of my MS accounts is connected to my Live account for school. which causes a problem in Windows 8. Pretty much i cant access or use the People Hub or xbox/zune/store  at the same time until its fixed. I tried a few work arounds with no luck, but it gave me a chance to play with some of the back end of Windows 8. One way was to use a non edu live account and this gives you access to Facebook/Twitter/Ect but then you cant access Xbox/ “Zune” / or the store or at least none of my main sections, at least not directly. It seams that unlike in Windows Phone 7, in Windows 8 and i would guess Windows Phone 8 they want everything to be done through your windows account and or any live account that is not hotmail or live is having a problem. MS says they have known about this since May, but with W8s big debut in another month and after that all of the non MSDNAA people who use live@edu (lots of schools with students who adopt tech early) and any one using a live exchange account (i forget it its technical name) that is not on a or domain will be complaining about why nothing works.

So kind of like the first time with Windows Phone 7, you log into your MS account, and your FB, Twitter and all the others, and either everything works great with your friend feeds and personalization and metro comes alive and is awesome. Or everything is blank and dull and you cant figure out whats wrong or what to do about it. Now on my main desktop not being able to use People Hub is a very minor inconvenience because i use my desktop for productivity work, not really for wasting time checking facebook. But on my netbook or phone, where its less straight productivity and a bit more wasting time, taking notes, info gathering where i will be spending more time with metro its more jarring. So for my netbook i have it signed into a “new” live account that is connected to my old account, this allows me to use the people/mail/ect hubs as intended, and still use the Windows Store, but i cant log into XBox or “Music”, but since i dont really need those its not to big of a problem. Though this account logs into a different SkyDrive then my .edu account, this is a problem for using OneNote to sync nicely with everything else. The desktop area seams to be smart enough to know that there are two skydrives, but OneNote MX, the Metro OneNote, only goes to the live account your signed into, though it had a greyed box to added more accounts, so maybe when the final version is out it will be fixed. I could always use the full OneNote i guess.
Now that i have it set up and after the annoying trying to figure out how everything works (why doesnt it come with a quick tutorial? The little while you wait “tutorial” doesn’t count) Windows 8 runs quite well on my little Netbook, and with some decent Metro apps i think it will be more useful then when i have W7 on it. That being said it is a little weird to get used to, but after a few hours i was moving around in it with no problems. Though some of the more deeper sections that was easy found with the start menu is harder to find now. Oh, if you did not know there is no start menu, you just go to the bottom corner and it kind oh peeks out the metro start. Not a big deal because there are only a few applications i use commonly,  which on Windows 7 i would use RocketDock for so having them pinned to the start like this is not to bad, until you have to look for a random program, which is not any harder than with a actual start menu. I know some people are having trouble with searching for programs using search, but i have always had problems using it so it feels no different.

So with that i wanted to load it onto my main desktop, i need it to do Metro UI and W8 programming any how. Now my computer is a few years old and has been a good work horse for me and i have been running W7 32bit. I figured i will run W8 in 64bit and grab some new ram over the week. During the install i was quickly reminded about all the problem i ran into during W7 install. To make it short, i either have bad ram or a bad motherboard, i was able to make it run fine on Windows 7, but i guess either 8 or 64 bit is causing problems. The cpu should last me fine another year or so so i dont want to drop the money on a new system. So until i get new ram i can either run W8 x64 at 2gigs or W7 32bit at 4gigs.

My desktop is a weird mix of parts, i have like 3 “and a half” monitors, one of which is a touch screen, once i got all the drivers running it felt like Windows 8 was built for this weird system. I am able to run Metro and start enjoyably on small touchscreen while i use the desktop across the other two monitors. The .5 monitor which is a usb-lcd display needs some new drivers, so ill have to try fixing that. Even running it at 2gigs on ram its pretty enjoyable to use, i dont know if i would feel the same if i did not have the touch screen though. I think a touchscreen monitor is what really makes it work for me.  So yea once i fix my ram problem i am hoping to run windows 8 full time, though its very easy for me to swap back to Windows 7 while i get W8 up to speed with all the development crap i have. So expect SideAmp (unless winamp makes a metro version) and OBDMobile to come out eventually, which leads me to my future worry…

Windows store (market place) is a mess, i mean its like just rows of icons, which is fine for a small phone screen but having to click on everything to see what the app does is dumb. They should use half the space and use the rest to have a small description. Also just like any other app store, its going to be just full of crapware. Even now with only a few hundred apps there is nothing good on it.

On another note Sprint does not seam interested in Windows Phone 8, which is a bummer, my account goes up next spring so they have till then or i might be jumping ship.

So in short, Windows 8 has some teething issues im sure that will get resolved eventually. They want everything to go through their Microsoft account which makes some things seam closed in, but nothing to bad. Store is a mess and good metro apps will make or break the metro side. I bet it would be better on a tablet but it is more enjoyable to use on my netbook then windows 7 was, and faster too. I am digging it on my desktop but my desktop is always been weird. I can see how some people wont like it. I do feel enthused to write some code though which is always good. I do need to update OBDMobile for Azure, and either finish or kill off SideAmp. Next big thing for OBDMobile will depend on how writing code for Windows 8 goes, i hope to have it on windows store by maybe the end of the year or so, should be do able.  I am hoping to write in here more but i always say that.