Developing a Windows 8 Metro App Part 2: Getting Started

In yesterday’s post, I explained why you might want to develop a Metro application for Windows 8.  Today, let’s get started on the “how”. 

Set up a machine for development

First of all, you need to set up a machine for development.  You need to be running Windows 8 on the machine where you are developing Windows 8 applications, so download the Windows 8 Release Preview

Now, downloading and installing an operating system is not as easy as downloading and installing an SDK.  Here are some options you have:

  • Install Windows 8 on a spare machine. 
  • Install and boot Windows 8 off a VHD.  Scott Hanselman described this process here
  • Run a virtual machine.  Michael Johnson described this process using VMware Player here.
  • Set up your machine to run dual-boot.
  • (This functionality is not publically available yet, but I wanted to call out that it will be an option in the future.)  Use “Windows to Go” and run the whole OS from a USB drive.  There is a talk from BUILD on this here

If you download the ISO, you will need to convert it into bootable media (a DVD or USB drive).  Here is some official guidance from

The easiest way to convert an ISO file to a DVD in Windows 7 is to use Windows Disc Image Burner. On a PC running Windows XP or Windows Vista, a third-party program is required to convert an ISO file into installable media—and DVD burning software often includes this capability. One option is the USB/DVD download tool provided by the Microsoft Store. You can also download Windows 8 Release Preview Setup, which includes tools that allow you to create a DVD or USB flash drive from an ISO file (Windows Vista or Windows 7 required).

Finally, if you have the Samsung slate that was given away at BUILD, I recommend that you install Windows 8 using a bootable USB drive.  Use a 4GB (no more, no less) USB stick that has been formatted as FAT32, not NTFS (to format: right-click on the drive, select “Format…”, and select “FAT32” in the “File system” dropdown menu).  Then follow the instructions in my teammate Doug Holland’s blog post

Once you are all set up with Windows 8, you will need to install Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows 8.  Now you have your development tools. 

At this point, your machine is ready.  The next step is to choose a language. 

Choose a development language

You have three choices of languages for development of Metro apps:

  • XAML and C#/VB.NET/C++
  • HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript
  • DirectX

If you are porting an existing application or website, that may make the decision easy.  If I were porting a Windows Phone app that I had written in Silverlight, I would choose to port to XAML.  If I were porting an existing website to a Metro app, I would choose to port to HTML.  Both of these choices would require the least amount of work.  (For more information, see my post on porting apps to Metro.)

If you are starting an application from scratch, make a decision based on your background and experience.  For example, HTML is the best option if you come from a web development background and you’ve never used XAML or C#. 

In the next post, we will take a look at Metro design. 


Other blog posts in this series:

Part 1: Why Would You Want to Develop a Metro Application for Windows 8?

Part 2: Getting Started

Part 3: Metro Design

Part 4: My "Reveal a Picture" Algorithm and Basic Code


Comments (3)
  1. I installed VisualStudio Express 2012 RC, I choose "C#/VB.NET/C++", and it pop a dialog that requires me to sign in.

    But VSE2012 allows me to use it for 30days (expired on 9/11/2012, today is 8/11/2012) only! Why? And what to do if I want use it more than 30days?

  2. Nazmul Hoque says:

    Very simple. Buy the product from Microsoft.

  3. jennmar says:

    @Songo Kute – the RC version of Visual Studio will expire, and at that point, you can download Visual Studio Express 2012 RTM from  The Visual Studio Express products continue to be free to download.  

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