Twitter for Windows 8: Microsoft really needed this

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Twitter’s official Windows 8 app, released Wednesday night, couldn’t have come a better time for Microsoft.

Well, that’s not true. It could have been there on Oct. 26, when Windows 8 launched. That would have been a lot better. But at a time when the new Microsoft operating system is suffering more than its share of hard knocks, the new Twitter app appears to be an honest-to-goodness showcase of Windows 8′s features.

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Horizontal scrolling in the Twitter app for Windows 8.

I’m hedging because I’ve been using the app on my Microsoft Surface tablet for a grand total of 15 minutes. But so far, Twitter for Windows 8 is proving to be a good reminder of what made me mildly optimistic about Windows 8 long ago.

Twitter has clearly gone out of its way to make the app fit well on Windows 8, and on the Surface in particular.

This is important for Microsoft because Twitter and Facebook were both conspicuously absent from the Windows 8 launch. Microsoft needs strong apps from the most popular services to help attract and keep new users. The Windows 8 People app integrates both Twitter and Facebook, but it’s not the same thing as an official app.

Now Facebook is the lone holdout of the two.

Some first impressions: Two major sections of the Twitter app, the “Discover” and “Me” tabs, use horizontal scrolling — nicely fitting the natural orientation of the Surface. (Microsoft’s tablet is ridiculously tall and skinny in portrait mode. Landscape mode is its most natural state.) Photos also look great this way.

Twitter has also taken advantage of the universal search “charm” in Windows 8 to let users quickly search for tweets and users. The app delivers notifications on the Windows 8 start screen, using the Live Tile feature. Twitter is also available as one of the services in Windows 8′s share charm, letting users share to Twitter from inside any other app.

Even though it’s an app, this is a replacement for Twitter on the web, not for a multithreaded Twitter client. The single vertically scrolling columns in the main Twitter feed and the “Connect” tab keep the app relatively simple. One advantage is that the app looks great filling 2/3 of the screen in Snap view. But Twitter junkies will need to go elsewhere to have multiple streams running by at all times.

In short, it’s Twitter customized for Windows 8, but still very recognizable as Twitter. It’s too bad we had to wait so long for it.

OK, Facebook. Your turn?

Here’s the official video introduction to the new Twitter app …

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLmN-40P_X4]

  • http://www.facebook.com/jmacduff Jeff MacDuff

    Per your article I just ran the app on my win8 box.. after about 5 min I get this .. I image… I sent 1 tweet from it.

    So not cool MS

  • Guest

    Second try to leave a comment … the first comment seems to have dissapeared.

    After 1 tweet running on Win8 I get this :(

  • Guest

    Somethings up with leaving comments, I tried 4 times now and it keeps getting removed or something?

  • DazzlingD

    - Snapping Twitter to the side of the screen works really well. I was watching Hulu with Twitter to the side last night, which was cool.
    - Opening webpages give the option of opening in the app if it’s fullscreen or in IE if it’s snapped.
    -The share charm is supported from IE.
    -The bad news is that they disabled autocorrect which is really annoying.
    I still don’t think that Facebook is needed as an app. The web version works really well and now that Flash is fully supported in Metro IE, most of the games work too.

  • John W Baxter

    Reactions:

    1. Couldn’t sign in to Disqus from “Metro” IE called from embedded browser. Learned what the world icon at the right of the tool bar does (goes to Metro IE, where all is well.

    2. On a non-touch machine, even with a Logitech T650 trackpad added, scrolling in the embedded browser is problematic. Despite that, I’m coming to enjoy the embedded browser.
    3. I generally like the application (I’m old…I can’t say “app”), and will use it for long enough to learn its foibles, then decide whether to return to MetroTwit desktop.
    4. I’d really like a way to scroll down the timeline to where I last was without having to recognize messages.
    Very promising.

  • http://orcmid.com/blog/ orcmid

    I was seduced by the video and installed it immediately. I also thought my wife, who is a potter, would be intrigued by the ability to tweet images of her work and projects. She hasn’t bitten yet.
    Also, I haven’t gotten any look that matches the jazz of the video. My first efforts to tweet an image from the Twitter MX app kept failing with inscrutable messages about trying later (but my tweet was lost of course).
    I’ll keep exploring though. As a new kind of visual stream, this is intriguing.

    • http://orcmid.com/blog/ orcmid

      OK, I got some photos posted just now. But Twitter MX on Windows 8 truncates the message and then inserts the photo URL. Haven’t found a workaround yet, except to use really short message, just to provide a caption.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

    I didn’t even notice the absence of Facebook or Twitter, it’s all baked into People app which… works better anyway.