Windows 8 Photos App; Best Practices Adding Single Sign-on & SkyDrive Integration to Metro Style App with the Live SDK; Unprefixed CSS3 Gradients in IE10 Explained

Microsoft wrapping up Windows 8 metro style apps series today details the new Photos app. "With this app, along with Metro style design principles, we set out to design an app that allows you to bring together photos from many different sources and to then view and share them," stated Brad Weed, group program manager […]

Windows 8 Release Preview Photos App as Picker

Microsoft wrapping up Windows 8 metro style apps series today details the new Photos app. "With this app, along with Metro style design principles, we set out to design an app that allows you to bring together photos from many different sources and to then view and share them," stated Brad Weed, group program manager in the Windows Live team.

This new Metro-style Photos app allows users to easily view and shair their precious memories, even with SkyDrive!

"We realize the myriad places you have to go to see all of your photos, so we decided to bring them all to you in one place. Because you can connect your Microsoft account to services like Facebook and Flickr, you can get to all of your photos and all of those memories just by signing in to Windows 8 with your Microsoft account," explains Weed.

Of course, the Photos app works best with the SkyDrive service, and with Windows Phone, you can automatically send all the pictures from your Phone to SkyDrive." This makes the Photos app in Windows 8 a great way to show off your photos without having to huddle around a phone. Even though you took your photos on your phone, you can easily enjoy them on your PC, just about as fast as you can take them," he said.

The Photos app even comes with its own home screen image, which you can set yourself.

The new Photos app also has a storyline view, so users can see photos and navigate though all of them with ease. If you want to see more of your pictures at once, just pinch to zoom out, and you'll see a thumbnail view of your collection.

You can even launch the slide show using the Windows 8 Devices charm to play your slide show on your TV or any other Windows certified Play To device. Of course, this works for video as well.

The Photos app can be integrated with SkyDrive by installing the SkyDrive Desktop app. "Any PC with the SkyDrive desktop app installed will show up in the Photos app. So by simply running SkyDrive desktop app on the PC(s) where all your photos reside, the Photos app will reach back to that PC so that you can look at your old photos alongside your recent ones," Weed adds.

If you want to use Windows 8 PC as the primary place to store all of your photos, Microsoft added the ability to import with the Photos app. "When you plug your camera in to your PC, all you have to do is pick the Photos app as your importer, and we'll take care of the rest," Weed explains.

The Photos app should scream "photos," so we've added an edge-to-edge photo that appears in the background on the home screen of the app.

Windows 8 Photos App Home screen

"When you go to pick your favorite photo for your Windows 8 lock screen, or you want to share a photo using the Share charm, you can grab a photo from Facebook, Flickr, SkyDrive, or any PC with the SkyDrive desktop app installed-all using the Photos app as a picker," he said.

The Photos app also makes it easy to select a set of photos, and use the Share charm to share in Mail, and off they go either as basic attachments or by sending a link to a slides show hosted on SkyDrive instead.

"The Photos app lets you see the last photo you took on your Windows Phone, or the very first photo you shot with your very first digital camera. The Photos app not only brings all of those memories back, but it puts them in the palm of your hand."

PhotoBucket app showing Sign In option in Settings

In another blog post, Dare Obasanjo, Senior Lead Program Manager, Live Connect Platform, shown how metro apps can take advantage of single sign-on with Microsoft accounts in a way that Windows 8 users expect from Microsoft's Metro style apps.

He also described the recommended way to provide an option to sign out of your app. In addition to these guidelines, he also shard two simple rules of thumb that prevent from creating experiences in your app that are inconsistent with the experience users will get from Microsoft's own apps.

  • "Don't display controls or dialogs to sign in or sign out a user other than those described here. Using the sign-in dialog provided by the Live SDK can help reassure your users that your app can't directly access their Microsoft account credentials.
  • Don't display the Microsoft account sign-in or sign out options anywhere other than the SettingsFlyout control or part of a task. Users of Metro style apps have come to expect account management options to be in the Settings charm and doing otherwise will lead to an inconsistent and unexpected experience for your users," Obasanjo posted.

To learn more about the Live SDK you can read documentation, download the Live SDK.

If the user isn't signed into their PC with a Microsoft account, the app displays a standard sign-in dialog

Windows 8 Single sign-on Prermission Dialog

Also, the IE team just revealed that IE10 in the Windows 8 Release Preview supports the W3C Candidate Recommendation for CSS Gradients in their unprefixed form.

"IE10 also supports the older CSS Gradients syntax from the W3C Working Draft of 17 February 2011 behind the vendor prefix -ms-," the team said.

"Now that CSS3 Gradients are stable, we encourage you to update your gradients markup to the correct Candidate Recommendation unprefixed gradient syntax. You may also remove instances of the -ms- prefixed gradients, as IE10 supports the unprefixed version. If you're using corner keywords or angles to describe gradient direction, you may want to verify that your gradients still render as desired," posted Jennifer Yu, Program Manager, Internet Explorer.

"While vendor-prefixed gradients still work in IE10 and other browsers, adding correct support for unprefixed gradients future-proofs your content."

The Internet Explorer 10 Guide for Developers includes full updated documentation of the unprefixed syntax.