Microsoft Builds Windows Push Notification Service For Windows 8

Dave Courbanou

November 7, 2011

2 Min Read
Microsoft Builds Windows Push Notification Service For Windows 8

Microsoft is implementing some interesting services for the Windows 8 experience, blending mobile technology with a desktop-esque experience. This time, the Building Windows 8 blog is detailing how the new Windows Push Notification Service brings constant real-time tiles to Windows 8 tablets and computers, without draining the battery. Here’s the scoop…

If you’re using any modern smart phone made in the last 3 years, you’re familiar with push notifications. They’re pop ups that alert you to information and messages in real time. But push notifications on desktop computers hasn’t been so much of an issue since it’s no big deal to write code that checks a server every couple of seconds. Computers are typically plugged in all the time and have far more resources to consume than their mobile counterparts.

Now, the challenge: A server-checking process running on a tablet or phone would rapidly drain the battery. As Windows 8 yearns to be no-compromise tablet-ready, Microsoft has to rethink how to build smartphone-like features that are developer-friendly while also being power-efficient.

Enter the Windows Push Notification Service. Not a  new concept, but certainly new for Windows. Microsoft has built a server (a lot like Apple has) to allow developers to take advantage of push notifications with a few simple lines of code. And push notifications are key to making use of Microsoft’s much touted live tiles on the all new Start Screen. The Windows 8 team has developed live tile code to highly power efficient, taking up almost no CPU or memory to run, meaning the whole Start Screen can always be running and always current.

The Windows 8 team has also built in an ability to view tile history in the task manager. Administrators and users can see which tiles have consumed the most cycles and network activity in the last 30 days. That’s especially helpful for detecting any problems as an IT manager,  developer or a user.

The bigger picture here is that Microsoft, in a small way, is blurring the lines between desktop operating systems and mobile ones. Apple has tried to bring iOS elements to Mac OS X Lion, but Microsoft might actually be making the first leap towards an OS that is ubiquitously the same across all form factors.

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