Microsoft's Modern UI may not be quite so prominent in the next major release of Windows, but that doesn't mean that the company is giving up completely on it. Indeed, while the full Start screen looks set to take a back seat in favor of a more compact Start menu, Modern apps will live on, and Microsoft will continue to promote them as a major component of its proposition for business and enterprise customers, as much as for consumers.
The latest evidence of this came today with Microsoft's announcement of Windows Apportals. An Apportal is essentially an app that acts as a central hub for all line-of-business (LOB) applications, organised into a simple-to-navigate, easy-to-use, touch-friendly user interface.
"Built on Windows 8.1, Apportals are powered by OS-level interoperability, with no fragile API calls to impact stability," Microsoft explains. "They provide virtually anywhere, anytime access on Windows 8.1 devices - including all native touch, auto snap, and security features." Apportals include not just Modern Windows 8.1 apps, but also web apps and Windows 7 applications that run on the Desktop, allowing an organization to bring together all of their LOB assets into a single point of access for users.
Microsoft said that it developed the Apportals solution because business customers tend to use software from multiple vendors, and need a way to easily bring everything together. "Organizations want to use the flexibility of the Windows 8.1 OS to create a UI-based virtual integration, and continue to gain value from existing legacy technology investments," Microsoft says. "Windows Apportals are the solution to this need."
Apportal management and authentication is handled through Active Directory, determining which data and apps a user is entitled to see in an Apportal when they are connected to a domain. Microsoft says that "this provides a high-level of customization and is particularly helpful in environments where is a high-level of data customization required by user - such as sales organizations, healthcare organizations and distributed enterprises."
Each Apportal can be customized to suit the needs of a particular industry, business function or role, making it easy for staff to find the apps that they need to do their jobs. If you work in sales, you don't need to see all the apps and resources available to the HR department, for example.
Portals can also be customized for other use cases like education too, to give students easy access to apps and resources for learning.
Organizations can even create Apportals for their own customers - for example, showing the latest promotions and social media links.
Microsoft will discuss Apportals further at its Worldwide Partner Conference next week. We'll be there at WPC 2014 to bring you all the latest news from Microsoft, so stay tuned!
Source: Microsoft | images 1 and 2, and screenshots in images 3-5