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Are Windows 8 tablets racing to enterprise success?

Paul Rubens | Feb. 26, 2013
Enterprise developers are seeing demand for Windows 8 line of business apps on mobile devices. However, the applications--while impressive--are speeding along mostly in vertical markets for very specific needs.

"We're seeing interest in enterprise Windows 8 app development from IT and their vendors mainly for line of business applications, like point of sale, or other applications characterized by a limited deployment of Windows 8 and new hardware to specific teams," Johnson says.

RAB Racing driver Alex Bowman and crew chief Chris Rice check early results of the Nationwide field on his Surface Pro before his qualifying run.>

And it's exactly this type of application that Toyota Racing Development (TRD) has produced for NASCAR drivers to use in the pits.

The company has been involved with NASCAR for about a decade, and its software group develops Windows applications to support race teams like RAB Racing that use Toyota technology.

Initially it developed a Windows 7 application that received lap times and other race data and presented it with a simple user interface. But it has its limitations.

"Windows 7 worked, but with only 60 minutes of practice time the driver has to be able to pull in, see his lap times compared to competitors, and give his feedback about the car," explains Darren Jones, TRD's group lead of software development."

The driver is very limited in what he can do in the car cockpit--it's certainly not easy to move in such a confined space, so a keyboard is hard to use. Windows 8 with its touch interface is ideal," Jones says.

Driver Alex Bowman checks performance results on his Surface Pro before his qualifying run.TRD Trackside app on Windows 8 with Surface Pro.>

The team was able to take the Windows 7 application and re-skin it with the Windows 8 interface, while keeping the business logic behind the interface, and therefore not having to worry about new bugs, Jones explains.

The Timing and Scoring grid displays the current running order of cars in a session.

"Touch was definitely one of the decisive factors for choosing Windows 8 on a tablet. But so the fact that we could use our existing Windows skills, and the ability to leverage the back end of our old Windows 7 app," Jones says.

Jones adds that there was a small learning curve for developing for Windows 8, but the team's developers were actually able to get up to speed faster with Windows 8 than they were with Windows 7 when that operating system was introduced.

Driver Notes allows the driver to zoom in on an image of the track to pinpoint where improvements need to be made.

Emirates Airlines is another company that has carried out a limited deployment of a line-of-business app developed for Windows 8. Its Knowledge Driven Inflight Service (KIS) app has been rolled out to 100 Emirates pursers so far.


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