Calling All Developers To Windows Phone 7

As expected, Silverlight is the platform for native Windows Phone 7 application development, XNA Framework is the gaming platform, and Expression Blend and Visual Studio 2010 Express are the design and development tools. This isn't a version of Silverlight tailored for mobile devices, but the full-blown Silverlight programming model, which means developers can quickly start cranking out Windows Phone 7 apps.

"Using Silverlight, you can deliver awesome applications for Windows Phone 7," Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of Microsoft's .Net Developer Platform, told attendees. "This is not 'Silverlight Lite' or 'Silverlight Limited' -- this is regular Silverlight on a phone."

Microsoft is now offering the Windows Phone 7 development toolkit as a free download, a package that includes Silverlight, Expression Blend for Windows Phone and a preview of Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express.

Windows Phone 7 devices aren't slated to arrive until later this year, but Microsoft wants developers to get started on building apps right away. Through Microsoft's Visual Studio-based emulator, developers can work with a full, virtualized version of Windows Phone 7 that includes multitouch support, and judging from the reaction of the audience, this will be well received.

Sponsored post

Developers will offer their Windows Phone 7 applications for purchase on the newly rebranded Windows Phone Marketplace, previously known as Windows Marketplace For Mobile. In addition to supporting one-time credit card purchases, mobile operator billing and advertising-funded applications, Microsoft has added functionality to Windows Phone Marketplace that enables creators to sell their applications more effectively.

At MIX10, attendees saw a mobile operating system that's similar to that of the Zune and bears little resemblance to the iPhone. Microsoft has clearly spent a ton of time differentiating Windows Phone 7 design from other devices on the market, and the result is a user interface that's far more user-friendly than Windows Mobile.

Given Microsoft's trailing position in the mobile market, the company needed to make some drastic changes to the status quo, and many industry watchers believe that starting over with Windows Phone 7 will help Microsoft get back on track.

The Windows Phone 7 story is solid and Microsoft is making major investments in the platform, said Al Hilwa, program director for Applications Development Software at research firm IDC, in an interview. "They seem to understand that these devices are the future, possibly even the future of the PC in the long term," he said.

However, Microsoft is still at least three years behind the mobile market leaders and will have to get used to not being the dominant platform, Hilwa added. "The amount of money they are making out of this may not be in the same league as Windows, so for the long run, I'm wondering how they can keep the revenue machine fed and keep this exciting for themselves internally," he said.

In other MIX news, Microsoft is now offering the Silverlight 4 Release Candidate for download and plans to offer the final release next month. Silverlight 4 includes Pivot, new data visualization technology that makes it easier for developers to present large data sets in applications and leverages the deep zoom technology that's built into Silverlight 4.

BACKTALK: Reach Kevin McLaughlin via e-mail at [email protected].