Missing From Metro – Invoking Applications

Imagine, if you will, a Windows 8 Metro app for managing multiple servers.  Ideally, you would want to be able to connect to each of these servers remotely.  And the way you would want to do that is by touching an iconic representation of the server, and then entering the remote desktop app to actually manage it.

In Win32 desktop land, this would be easy – you could either start up the remote desktop application from the command line, or you could embed a remote desktop control into your application.

Not so in Metro

If you want to get to a remote desktop, its back to the start menu and launch the metro remote desktop app yourself.

At least at the moment.

I can’t believe this situation will remain – and there are two ways that MS may choose to address it.

First, I want to say, it won’t be addressed by sharing.  Sharing has to be done through the the share icon on the right hand side panel – that would be a horrible UI to have to go though every time one app wanted to defer to another.

But it could be via two other contracts.  Two contracts which have gone unnoticed and undocumented

The first is Launch.  Launch is the contract used to launch every Metro app.  I assume it might also be used to unsuspend metro apps (but I don’t know – noone tells me).  Once could conceivably find the app you wanted to work with, and Launch() it.  Assuming we ever get told how to do that.

The other seems more likely, but is also more vague as every reference to it seems undocumented.  There is a contract called Send(), and I like to think the Send() contract might be a way of saying give the application registered as the standard way of handling something, some data to handle.  If so, by supporting a Send() contract we could get the appropriate remote desktop app to open and handle our request.

But until we get told about Launch(), Send() or some other contract which will handle this everyday situation we’re stumped.  And I can’t even begin to think about creating my killer application.


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