Editorial

Editorial: Mark Zuckerberg, please code the Windows 8 Facebook app

Windows 8 has been out for a few weeks now, and since then we have seen a number of major apps made for the operating system's "Modern" user interface get released. That includes apps from WinZip, The Weather Channel, Barnes and Noble's Nook app and more. Even Twitter has admitted that it will be releasing a native Windows 8 app in the months to come.

However, there is one major app, for a pretty huge online service, that is currently not available for Windows 8. Facebook, whether you like them or not, has over 1 billion users around the world. The lack of an official Facebook app is a pretty big hole in the Windows 8 app pool. However, the current status of getting a Facebook app for Windows 8 seems to be complicated. A few weeks ago, a spokesperson for the company stated, "We only build the iOS and Android FB apps. You should check in with Microsoft on anything related to Windows 8."

That would seem to suggest that Microsoft has a Facebook app in the works, and indeed the company developed the official Facebook app for Windows Phone. But Microsoft seems to want to put the pressure on Facebook in regards to a Windows 8 app. A spokesperson for that company told Venture Beat, "If you have a question about a specific app, you should ask the developer." That would seem to suggest that Microsoft has no such plans to make a Facebook app for the OS.

Yes, there are some third party Windows 8 apps that have Facebook support (FlipToast is the best known solution) but having a native app for Facebook would seem to be the best solution for everyone. So here is what the situation apparently looks like: Facebook doesn't want to make an app for Windows 8, but Microsoft doesn't seem to want to step in and do it themselves, as they did with the Windows Phone Facebook app. In our mind, there's only one way to settle this:

Let's get Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to code the Windows 8 Facebook app himself.

Hey, Zuckerberg might be the founder and CEO of a company that has a service that is used by a fair fraction of the entire world at the moment. However, in his heart, we know that he is a coder. We know that he likes challenges. We also know that he still participates in hackathons at Facebook, where employees try to come up with new software products and ideas in the space of a few hours or days.

In fact, one recent report from News.com claimed that Zuckerberg's participation in a hackathon with both Facebook and Microsoft coders present in 2011 helped Microsoft come up with its recent revamp of the Bing search service, which integrates Facebook into search results. Let's not forget that Microsoft invested some money in Facebook before it launched its IPO earlier this year. Microsoft owns a small fraction of the company as a result.

In other words, Microsoft has used Zuckerberg's information for their own gain, and Zuckerberg and Facebook got benefits from Microsoft's investment. Yet, in the case of making apps for Windows 8, Facebook oddly doesn't seem interested in making a program for an OS that already has a user base in the millions just a few weeks after its launch.

So, we humbly ask that if Mr. Zuckerberg is reading this, he should take up the mantle and make the Windows 8 Facebook app himself. A couple of weeks ago, we witnessed some pretty impressive Windows 8 apps that were made in the space of a couple of days at Microsoft's BUILD conference. We certainly think that Zuckerberg could make a Windows 8 Facebook app a reality just with his own knowledge of how Facebook works.

Would he actually make a Facebook app for Windows 8? The odds are against it. But we know he's smart enough to do it and he would likely do a great job making the app. We also think it would be a great publicity idea for both Facebook and Microsoft to put out a press release saying that the official Windows 8 Facebook app in the story was ready to go and that it was personally coded by Zuckerberg.

In any case, an official Facebook app for Windows 8 is needed soon, if only to show that the platform, and its "Modern" touch screen UI, is a viable one. Let's hope either Facebook or Microsoft gets one in motion in the very near future.

Images via Facebook and FlipToast

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I would just like to mention,

Firstly that there is now a Facebook client app called 'MINE' in the Windows 8 store.

Secondly, I am glad that we don't have the 'FACEBOOK' app, the 'MINE' app though lacking in certain features is an absolute joy to use. The Windows 8 app store is a growing eco system and as such we have a fresh opportunity to create a brand new face of apps. Much like in the way Windows 8 is a bold new step in the future of computing, the app store is a bold new way of interacting with your apps, in my opinion the windows 8 apps are quite neat and efficient, especially those that utilize the semantic zoom, such as the Wikipedia app, and those that utilize the 'pin to start' feature (there's even a music player that will let you pin your favorite artist or album right on to your start screen... if that doesn't shout 'AWESOME'... well then im a kid with a disability that makes it hard to hear insults and has super power strength. The point that im making is the Windows Store is full of creativity, which we should be fuelling rather than stifling. I can only wish that this editorial noticed that and that the authors plea was instead to app developers to be more creative.

Many people ignore that main Facebook fonctions are directly featured by the People Hub... and with a very nice integration ; Maybe better than a specific independant app. Yes this solution isn't complete but for many thing it's more than enough. As people doesn't know this and as they are formated to think app, Microsoft have to communicate about this ability of Windows 8.
So if they don't, yes an app is needed cause of question about public OS perception, just marketing but important.

"So, we humbly ask that if Mr. Zuckerberg is reading this, he should take up the mantle and make the Windows 8 Facebook app himself."

Jesus... It's **** like this, Neowin.

As was the case with Android, Facebook probably won't develop a Windows store app until it makes commercial sense for them to do it, and as you can access the desktop site from all Windows 8 devices but the SurfaceRT that need isn't really pressing at the moment. If WinRT tablets start taking off then this situation will probably change.

I know its not the best of designs, but as a stop gap for now. Why are people not using the facebook site available for touch devices. http://touch.facebook.com. I understand that a official app would be better with live notifications and updates, but for now. On tablets anyway, use the touch site.

this is really sad. this editorial exemplify the typical win egg fanboys mentality. you need to have people using it, bud. right now. win egg population is pitifully low. like two cockroaches in an abandoned town.

A very dumb boy is young Zuck. He's left the door open for someone over here in Asia to steam in and crush his business. W8 is already well accepted in Asia with every major manufacturer already committed and making products. If Facebook don't lead they'll have to follow. The space is now wide open for anyone to bleed customers away from them.

Oh yes, because Facebook developed apps aren't crap... Oh wait...

Given the condition of the apps they've developed, this has to be the dumbest thing I've ever heard someone argue for... We should be begging them NOT to develop it...

Remember? Last time, they said they only make mobile app. It took quite long time for iPad app to come out.

The lack of an official Facebook app for Windows 8 isn't a coincidence, but actually done on purpose. Consider that most Facebook users likely have a Windows PC at home, and nearly all of their revenue is derived from ads on their website. What happens when a good chunk of those people end up switching to the Windows 8 app? Lost revenue, unless they build support for specific ad units in the Windows 8 app. Their traditional text based ads will NOT be up to snuff if they want any kind of reasonable click through rate.

dagamer34 said,
The lack of an official Facebook app for Windows 8 isn't a coincidence, but actually done on purpose. Consider that most Facebook users likely have a Windows PC at home, and nearly all of their revenue is derived from ads on their website. What happens when a good chunk of those people end up switching to the Windows 8 app? Lost revenue, unless they build support for specific ad units in the Windows 8 app. Their traditional text based ads will NOT be up to snuff if they want any kind of reasonable click through rate.

That's a good point, but it seems Facebook may be focussing on ad types like sponsored stories and the kinds of ads we see in the mobile apps. Zuck has certainly mentioned that he sees mobile as where Facebook will make more of its money in the future (http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/...more-money-than-on-desktop/), and that relates to how ads will be placed in the mobile apps. So I think that they'd already have a great idea for how they'd do ads in a Windows 8 app, and that it may not be the reason as to why they're not developing one.

dagamer34 said,
The lack of an official Facebook app for Windows 8 isn't a coincidence, but actually done on purpose. Consider that most Facebook users likely have a Windows PC at home, and nearly all of their revenue is derived from ads on their website. What happens when a good chunk of those people end up switching to the Windows 8 app? Lost revenue, unless they build support for specific ad units in the Windows 8 app. Their traditional text based ads will NOT be up to snuff if they want any kind of reasonable click through rate.

Huh? The Facebook apps are riddled with ads nowadays. They're even inserted in your news feed and can't be removed.

FB actually make the android app themselves? It's bloody hopeless they must give that job to the work experience kid(s)!

trip21 said,
FB actually make the android app themselves? It's bloody hopeless they must give that job to the work experience kid(s)!

Is that because of how slow it is? If so, Mark Zuckerberg himself has confirmed that they're making it much better and faster, just like they did with the iOS app

Facebook's mobile apps didn't work too well for iOS and Android when they were essentially wrappers for their site.

On the flipside, Modern/Metro apps can either be compiled code or webpages. Either way they run at an acceptable speed, as Microsoft's default apps demonstrate. Facebook shouldn't have much trouble taking the existing code on the site and using a more touch-friendly stylesheet. All that's left is code for hooking into Windows 8's notifications and they've got their app.

Facebook has the most inept engineers of any major tech company. This isn't despite Zuckerberg, it's as a result of him. He isn't some amazing engineer or programmer, he's someone who saw an opportunity and acted on it.

If anything, Zuckerberg might want to sit down and work on coding out the multitude of bugs in their primary platform first.

thomastmc said,
Facebook has the most inept engineers of any major tech company. This isn't despite Zuckerberg, it's as a result of him. He isn't some amazing engineer or programmer, he's someone who saw an opportunity and acted on it.

If anything, Zuckerberg might want to sit down and work on coding out the multitude of bugs in their primary platform first.

This I agree with. While they're at it, maybe they could make their website a little more touch friendly, then perhaps we wouldn't need an app.

thomastmc said,
Facebook has the most inept engineers of any major tech company. This isn't despite Zuckerberg, it's as a result of him. He isn't some amazing engineer or programmer, he's someone who saw an opportunity and acted on it.

If anything, Zuckerberg might want to sit down and work on coding out the multitude of bugs in their primary platform first.


Inept? I suggest you read many of the notes on the Facebook Engineering Page (https://www.facebook.com/Engineering/notes). Facebook's engineers are highly skilled, and they've had to overcome some very difficult challenges. One huge challenge in particular was ensuring that the backend allowed for navigating through the immense amount of data on one's Timeline to be fast and efficient.

Facebook is one of the most buggy services that exists, but that doesn't reflect on the abilities of the engineers at all. The reason it's buggy is because of how the features are tested and the lack of importance they place on quality assurance. They believe it's better to get products out more regularly and iterate fast than fix bugs that most users won't care about, and I agree with them, even though I have come across some annoying bugs that I've (personally) deemed important.

Calum said,

Facebook is one of the most buggy services that exists, but that doesn't reflect on the abilities of the engineers at all. The reason it's buggy is because of how the features are tested and the lack of importance they place on quality assurance.

This is ineptness... Point in fact.

thomastmc said,

This is ineptness... Point in fact.


The term 'ineptness' describes a lack of skills or aptitude, not informed decisions that you happen to disagree with. I pointed out that the reason you find Facebook so buggy isn't due to a lack of skills or knowledge; it's merely down to informed decisions made by the higher-ups. They choose to not focus on quality assurance. Not because they don't understand the importance of it or the benefit of it, but because they'd rather not.

As far as I'm aware, Microsoft are responsible for handling all the contracts for developing Facebook applications on their platforms, so it's up to them to hire some company to do it for them. Unfortunately that's never ideal because unless it's handled internally, updates and bug fixes and nightmares trapped behind red tape and contracts.

~Johnny said,
As far as I'm aware, Microsoft are responsible for handling all the contracts for developing Facebook applications on their platforms, so it's up to them to hire some company to do it for them. Unfortunately that's never ideal because unless it's handled internally, updates and bug fixes and nightmares trapped behind red tape and contracts.

This is why I would like Facebook to take on the development of apps for Windows and Windows Phone. Facebook is the service that's most important to me, and their much better Facebook app is the main reason I switched from Windows Phone to an iPhone. There were other reasons, but that was the main reason. Since switching, I haven't regretted it. For two years, I was without Facebook push notifications, and I hated that. I realise that might be in Windows Phone 8 (although those notifications might still only come every 30 minutes, like they did in Windows Phone 7), but the iOS Facebook app in general is much better and includes Facebooks core features (e.g. Timeline).

http://nymag.com/news/features...n-valley-2011-9/index1.html
"Zuckerberg doesn't code much for Facebook anymore, the same way that Steve Jobs never hand-coded software for the iPhone. But, as the Groups team was adding the finishing touches to its product, Zuckerberg said he wanted to write a few lines. “Everybody was like, Ohhhh, Zuck's gonna write code,” says Feross. Someone set up an easy bug for him to fix - adding a link to a picture, or something - and he went to work. Five minutes passed. Twenty minutes. An hour. “It took him like two hours to do something that would take one of us who's an engineer like five minutes,” says Feross. It was like a retired slugger coming back for one last at-bat, for old time's sake, and finding he'd lost more of his game than he'd reckoned."

ScottBT said,
Someone set up an easy bug for him to fix - adding a link to a picture, or something - and he went to work. Five minutes passed. Twenty minutes. An hour. “It took him like two hours to do something that would take one of us who's an engineer like five minutes,” says Feross. It was like a retired slugger coming back for one last at-bat, for old time's sake, and finding he'd lost more of his game than he'd reckoned."

Tech changes a lot faster than baseball. If you don't keep your hand in, then your skills *will* become outdated quite quickly.

And that's even more true when you're working with an existing codebase, rather than trying your hand at coding up a new project from scratch in the latest technology. There's all this institutional knowledge that you have to keep up-to-date with. What are these methods I've never heard of -- did they get refactored out or something? Where is the data even stored in the object model? Hey, there wasn't a caching layer back in 2004 when I wrote it! NoSQL? How am I supposed to use NoSQL? etc.

As a coder, Zuckerberg is about as useful to Facebook as a new hire. Coding is like riding a bicycle -- you never lose the skills. What he lacks is the knowledge that comes only from doing this everyday.

Facebook apps, so far, have been horrible. I wish the devs would look to google+ app, which is really pretty great. I don't use g+, but their app is leaps and bounds beyond facebook app.

aviator189 said,
Facebook apps, so far, have been horrible. I wish the devs would look to google+ app, which is really pretty great. I don't use g+, but their app is leaps and bounds beyond facebook app.

Compared to their previous apps the current iOS and Android apps are quite an improvement since they ditched HTML 5.

Alladaskill17 said,
Apparently people forgot Facebook is accessible through a browser...its still Windows, who cares.

I think some people want alerts, pop-ups or whatever they are called and perhaps some other integrated functionality that an app can offer as a website is bound to the browser.

imachip said,

I think some people want alerts, pop-ups or whatever they are called and perhaps some other integrated functionality that an app can offer as a website is bound to the browser.

This. Plus it makes it more touch friendly and accessible for the Windows RT users.

Alladaskill17 said,
Apparently people forgot Facebook is accessible through a browser...its still Windows, who cares.

I very much think a Facebook app is necessary. On my Surface it's very hard to navigate Facebook at times because the links are so small, and touch input just doesn't work too well for some things (such as the icons that only appear when your mouse is hovered over them).

Alladaskill17 said,
Apparently people forgot Facebook is accessible through a browser...its still Windows, who cares.

I'd argue that it might be in their best interest to not make an apps for Win8. This has nothing to do with the argument over whether the OS is a success or not, but rather the argument that without developing essentially an app that is a browser, you'd be leaving a sizable chunk of what Facebook is out of the app. What I am referring to is the Apps (Farmville, Words with Friends, etc) that Facebook themselves run within their own "universe".

Alladaskill17 said,
Apparently people forgot Facebook is accessible through a browser...its still Windows, who cares.

Have you ever tried using the facebook website using touch only? Given the level of ignorance in your post, I'd assume not.

Anthony Tosie said,

such as the icons that only appear when your mouse is hovered over them.

This is simply the biggest issue while web browsing on a touch device.

I know very little about web developing, so let me ask this: Is it really that hard to code a website to have a hover feature for touch devices?
Maybe a "tap once to hover, tap twice to activate", or simply an option in the tap-hold context menu that says "Hover"?

Condere said,
What I am referring to is the Apps (Farmville, Words with Friends, etc) that Facebook themselves run within their own "universe".

They could potentially get around that by having the app do what it does at least on iOS (and I assume Android) - hook into other native apps. Eg. notifications on Facebook for Words with Friends will push you into the WWF app.

Being an app rather than a browser doesn't have to suffer completely from the limitations. Just has to find ways around those limitations instead.

A W8 app would definitely be awesome. We can already see the potential for one with the People app, which shows Facebook notifications (but scrolls through old ones as well, so it does suffer from not always being current).

Anthony Tosie said,

I very much think a Facebook app is necessary. On my Surface it's very hard to navigate Facebook at times because the links are so small, and touch input just doesn't work too well for some things (such as the icons that only appear when your mouse is hovered over them).

Try using touch.facebook.com works well in touchscreen devices

Alladaskill17 said,
Apparently people forgot Facebook is accessible through a browser

Exactly. What's the point of a facebook app on a large laptop/desktop screen? the browser already works well on the desktop.

Alladaskill17 said,

...its still Windows, who cares.

Technically, it's now Microsoft Window

Javik said,

Try using touch.facebook.com works well in touchscreen devices


It lacks a ton of features of the full site, though, and doesn't scale well to screens larger than that of a smartphone.

TCLN Ryster said,

Have you ever tried using the facebook website using touch only? Given the level of ignorance in your post, I'd assume not.


http://m.facebook.com is absolutely navigatable on touch. It was even designed for touch!

True, it doesn't have the complete user experience of http://www.facebook.com, but not even the well supported iPad has an app like that. Welcome to touch land and Facebook apps.