Wolfram|Alpha releases first Windows 7 app

Wolfram|Alpha launched its first Computational knowledge engine app back in 2009. Before this week, the app was available just for mobile and tablet products like the iPad and Android devices. Now the company has branched out and released a version of the app for Windows 7. The app is now available for $2.99 and can be purchased and downloaded via Intel's AppUp online store. The app is made primarily for notebooks and ultrabooks but it can be used by any 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 7 PC.

The announcement about the new app states:

The Wolfram|Alpha App for PCs & Ultrabooks features an optimized user interface that takes advantage of the full PC screen. The app also features a specialized keyboard, easy resizing of results, and extended copy and paste of query results and graphics. Students and professionals use Wolfram|Alpha in a variety of subject areas. Students can enter their specific homework problems and get immediate answers, including a "Show steps" feature for math-related queries.

The plan is for the company to release even more of these kinds of apps for Windows 7 users. These Course Assistant Apps will offer help in studying and finding answers for users in subjects like calculus, astronomy, physics, and chemistry.

Image via Wolfram|Alpha

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26 Comments

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Albert said,
http://www.wolframalpha.com. that's the _app_ i'm using.

Was about to post the same thing. +1

Why on earth would a company spend time and money to develop an out of browser Web App like this?

Do they not realize they could provide the same UI (that flows even) and functionality if they would use HTML5 and use IE9s App features if they really need the 'desktop' feel?

Weird.

Why is it that Windows developers have such a hard time using the default interface and frequently feel as though they have to reinvent the wheel?

.Neo said,
Why is it that Windows developers have such a hard time using the default interface and frequently feel as though they have to reinvent the wheel?

because back in the 90's some smartie figured out you can watch the windows GUI message queue and inject their own draw routines based on it.... since then everyone feels they need to do it it seems like

.Neo said,
Why is it that Windows developers have such a hard time using the default interface and frequently feel as though they have to reinvent the wheel?

Because that makes your app unique. Usually, it's a bad thing, since most custom chromes have problems with Win7's Aero Snap, some standard window behavior (e.g. double-click to maximize), drop shadows...

To be fair, Windows isn't really helpful when it comes to drawing a custom chrome. I did that in WPF for a Metro desktop app, and creating a proper drop shadow is definitely not a cakewalk.

.Neo said,
Why is it that Windows developers have such a hard time using the default interface and frequently feel as though they have to reinvent the wheel?

And this is what makes windows look dumbed down. There is no consistency between the apps. It makes the Os look worse than it really is.

For instance, I can easily go on GNOME and KDE and see applications look consistent between each other, because all the applications are required to go through the HiG (Human Interface Guidelines). Well, that's if your app in part of GNOME/KDE.

Hell, Microsoft's own applications don't follow the bloody HiG.

I know for a fact that when applications looks too much alike people get confused. So yes having your own theme is a good thing... And by your logic every website should be made the same... Brilliant idea no?

Aethec said,

Because that makes your app unique. Usually, it's a bad thing, since most custom chromes have problems with Win7's Aero Snap, some standard window behavior (e.g. double-click to maximize), drop shadows...

To be fair, Windows isn't really helpful when it comes to drawing a custom chrome. I did that in WPF for a Metro desktop app, and creating a proper drop shadow is definitely not a cakewalk.

The problem most developers have is after they use their own interface, they try to mimic the features of the normal interface.

Ideally, it is better to just redirect the calls through, so that when someone is click on your 'title bar', this is passed back to Windows as if the user was clicking on a real 'title bar'.

Then all functionality from moving the Windows to even Shake and Snap, and other features just magically work as they are supposed to do.

As for creating the drop shadow, there are easy ways to do this, so not sure what led you off course. The best way is to register the Window so Windows knows to just add the drop shadow itself. (Which it can do with 'mask' and irregular size windows since we first saw shadows like 10 years ago.)

thenetavenger said,
...

Yes, but in WPF you can't trust the built-in methods - Window.DragMove() doesn't work when the window is maximized, for example, so you need P/Invoke (and then everything magically works).

As for the drop shadow, Windows does not render shadows beneath window without any chrome (which is what you do when making your own chrome), and calling DwmExtendFrameIntoClientArea hoping for a shadow to appear is hit-and-miss (sometimes the shadow simply disappears).
There's a reason the Zune team had to create four windows to make shadow borders, and move them around
If you have a magical solution to do that, please tell.

ya this topic title confused me, app is an annoying word used for phones , yes it stands for application but bloody hell...

Som said,
ya this topic title confused me, app is an annoying word used for phones , yes it stands for application but bloody hell...

I think most people think App stands for Applet or Widget now... not Application like it is supose to.. Applets are smaller then full Applications

neufuse said,

I think most people think App stands for Applet or Widget now... not Application like it is supose to.. Applets are smaller then full Applications


I think most people don't think App means anything other than "App".

thommcg said,

I think most people don't think App means anything other than "App".

Agreed. Everyone figures an "App" is that like an App from the App Store.

*hits head on desk* first app for win7? think the first app for windows came out in the 80's and win7 had them since it was created.... these half assed ports from devices to full blown computers just look like a waste of space (Screen wise) half the time

neufuse said,
*hits head on desk* first app for win7? think the first app for windows came out in the 80's and win7 had them since it was created.... these half assed ports from devices to full blown computers just look like a waste of space (Screen wise) half the time

Lol you obviously don't understand what they meant

Memnochxx said,
Wolfram|Alpha releases [their] first Windows 7 app

I was mocking the title that CLEARLY says "Wolfram|Alpha releases first Windows 7 app"

neufuse said,

I was mocking the title that CLEARLY says "Wolfram|Alpha releases first Windows 7 app"

No you were not. lol

"The Wolfram|Alpha App for PCs & Ultrabooks features an optimized user interface that takes advantage of the full PC screen"
LOL WAT??

ahhell said,
"The Wolfram|Alpha App for PCs & Ultrabooks features an optimized user interface that takes advantage of the full PC screen"
LOL WAT??

And PC's screen is larger than your phone. . and you sit and look at the screen comfortably

ahhell said,
"The Wolfram|Alpha App for PCs & Ultrabooks features an optimized user interface that takes advantage of the full PC screen"
LOL WAT??

Their marketing folks must have thought the "Maximize" button on the custom window chrome was the Wolfram devs' invention.

Aethec said,

Their marketing folks must have thought the "Maximize" button on the custom window chrome was the Wolfram devs' invention.

This. That app would look hilarious on a 27" display.