With the Windows 8.1 Preview Microsoft introduced new support for 3D printers but that is not the only change to device support in the OS. In a new post on the Windows App Builder Blog Microsoft have details some of the new device API support that will enable developers to do interesting things with Windows 8.1 that wouldn’t have been possible with Windows 8.
In Windows 8.1 Windows Store apps can use device protocols to communicate with USB, HID, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct without the need for custom drivers. This is means that developers can write Windows Store apps that will work with Windows RT which you can’t install special drivers on, so we could see specialised app and hardware combinations that wouldn’t have been possible in store apps with special apps talking to things like smart sensors and specialist devices.
I am looking forward to seeing what developers come up with for Windows 8.1. More details on the blog post:
Enabling new scenarios
Access to devices via device protocol APIs enables multiple new scenarios in Windows 8.1 Preview:
IHV Device Access: Hardware vendors can create apps to accompany their innovative devices (without the need for custom drivers).
Ecosystem of Apps: Manufacturers can create a standard for communicating with their hardware device. This empowers an ecosystem of software developers to create novel apps that can all communicate with that device.
Enthusiast Community: Home developers can create their own apps to communicate with non-standard devices. For example, a high school student could build an app for a science project so that hardware could be controlled from a Surface running Windows 8.1 Preview.