Windows 8 needs a little more work
Windows 8 gets a poor grade on a simple task. What is that task you may ask? Read on.
Every Windows computer needs a beginners programming language. Those of us from the DOS days can look back fondly on QBasic. From learning how to program, to just having a quick and easy scripting language that a business user can use to write some simple app in a few minutes, a beginners language makes sense. So what beginners programming language might fit the bill for Windows 8? Microsoft's own Small Basic!
Yes, Small Basic. It is free. It is popular. It is BASIC, ala .NET-style. I thought Small Basic would be the perfect choice to download and install on my latest install of the Windows 8 Release Preview. Sadly, it was not good news. I will be kind and just assume that Small Basic was not on Microsoft's top-10 list of apps to test on Windows 8, but this does indicate that Microsoft may want to make sure Windows 8 is really ready for those who have lots of existing desktop apps to install.
I downloaded Small Basic from Microsoft's website and tried to install it. The first problem I experienced: The software requires a version of the .NET runtime that appears to not come with Windows 8. I had to then download the .NET 3.5 (service pack 1) runtime first before I could even install Small Basic.
Okay, I was now ready to play with Small Basic. I ran the app and then started to try some of the sample Small Basic apps (source code) that come with it. I loaded one source code file after another, but with each encountered a problem that I still don't know the solution to. Each time I ran (compile and run) a Small Basic sample app I got the same error message: "Sorry we found some Errors" and "Access Denied". Likely there is a solution to overcome this, but I could not find it on the web (did a Google Search). I could not get a single sample app to run in Small Basic.
So I decided to download another beginner's scripting language, called ThinBasic, which I know is not a .NET application (written in pure native API code) to see how well it worked. I downloaded and installed ThinBasic, and it ran fine -- each sample app. Even some OpenGL 3D sample apps ran quite well (I had installed the latest video drivers on my Windows 8 installation).
Now, this may not be important to many of those who are currently testing out Windows 8, but I do think this does say something. With all the emphasis going into Metro, maybe a little more testing of the Windows desktop would be in order here. Maybe this is simply a .NET issue, but shouldn't all of the .NET runtimes be installed on Windows 8 and multiple popular apps that use different versions of .NET be tested?
Remember, Small Basic does come from Microsoft and it is their solution to the need for something akin to DOS' QBasic for Windows, so it makes a lot of sense that it should have been tested with Windows 8.
I will give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt here, since I understand they have a lot on their plate right now with Metro and all. I would like to say that it would be nice to see Small Basic added to Windows 8 so every PC or tablet shipped will offer an easy to learn programming language. Please just make sure it works on the official release version of Windows 8.
Chris Boss is an advanced Windows API programmer and developer of 10 year-old EZGUI, which is now version 5. He owns The Computer Workshop, which opened for businesses in the late 1980s. He originally developed custom software for local businesses. Now he develops programming tools for use with the PowerBasic compiler.