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The Windows platform is alive and well

Mobile and cloud applications may be the future, but the Windows platform is not yet in the past.

Want to get into a major theme park or museum? Looking for a ride on an intercity bus or ferry? You'll need a ticket, one likely issued using application software from Gateway Ticketing Systems Inc., designed to operate exclusively on PCs and servers running Windows platform. Not Android, not iOS, not Linux, but Windows.

Lost amid the hype over iOS and Android, the Windows platform is far from dead. According to IDC's March 2015 Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, total 2015 shipments are projected at 293.1 million PCs, dipping only slightly to 291.4 million in 2019. In a separate report, Statista Inc. observed that as of July 2015, the various versions of Windows held a 79% global market share.

"We rely on the Windows platform to deliver the high level of performance that our customers require," said Nick Hodges, a senior developer at Gateway Ticketing Systems, based in Gilbertsville, Pa. For more than 400 Gateway customers worldwide, that requirement centers around the need for near-instantaneous response times, necessary when tickets scanned at sporting events or other venues must be validated in real time. With a total of 2.5 million lines of code running in a client-server architecture, transactions and communications cannot experience any delay, Hodges said. To help achieve that fast performance, Gateway continues to run some code written in Turbo Pascal, a language first published in 1983 and largely unknown to younger developers.

Migrating apps to Windows 10

With many creators of programming tools focusing on cloud and mobile, Gateway relies on development tools from Embarcadero Technologies Inc. San Francisco-based Embarcadero -- borne from the ashes of Borland International -- recently released RAD Studio 10 Seattle, positioned as way for C and Delphi developers to create new applications or migrate existing ones to Windows 10, OS X, iOS and Android, as well as to support the coming wave of the Internet of Things (IoT). Borland created Turbo Pascal.

We rely on the Windows platform to deliver the high level of performance that our customers require.
Nick Hodgessenior developer, Gateway Ticketing Systems

"Windows may not be for startups trying to build the next mobile app or game, but for scanning luggage at airports in real time, where performance must be fast, accurate and reliable. The cloud and the Web are not part of the solution," said Michael Swindell, senior vice president at Embarcadero. He also noted that in certain retail establishments -- such as mobile phone stores, where roaming salespeople use iPad or Android tablets to query customer accounts and do sales transactions -- those devices are often communicating with a backroom server running Windows.

Al Hilwa, program director for software development research at IDC in Framingham, Mass., believes having development tools that leverage Windows 10 is essential. "I think Embarcadero has the right idea releasing a refresh around Windows 10. I expect Windows [independent software vendors] to go through a major refresh cycle over the next two years to bring their apps up to date, and in line with Windows 10 and the Universal Windows app model."

According to Microsoft, Universal Windows apps target device families, rather than an operating system, and share a common API and support a variety of coding languages.

A future for Windows 10 apps in the cloud

According to Swindell, RAD Studio 10 Seattle was designed to help developers create data-rich, hyperconnected applications for Windows 10, and extend them to OS X, mobile and IoT. The platform includes a new version of the company's Visual Component Library controls, styles and services components for updating existing applications to Windows 10.  Embarcadero also doubled the available memory for large projects and extended support for multiple monitors, with the intent of speeding development across multiple desktop, mobile, cloud and database platforms, including 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 10.

The cloud is playing an increasingly important role, even applications designed for Windows. With the advent of Windows 10, the capability for cloud-delivered rolling updates is a reality. "With the ability of Windows 10 to deliver incremental updates as a service, it's important for our developer customers to align their applications with Windows 10 and implement this new delivery mechanism," Swindell said.

As cloud computing and mobile computing technology continues to advance, Gateway is examining the possibilities. "We are looking at cloud and remote-based solutions, but we are not ready to move away from the platforms that continue to provide the functionality and performance we demand," said Hodges.

RAD Studio 10 Seattle is available now.

Next Steps

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