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Windows Phone Developer Story Coming Into Focus

Leaked documents that appear to come from Microsoft offer a clear view of the tools and frameworks the company will offer developers to build Windows Phone applications.

.Net posted earlier this week

The documents, which appear to originate from within Microsoft, describe the Windows Phone Application Platform, a mobile application development environment that's designed to support "consumer entertainment experiences."

The platform includes two frameworks -- one for Silverlight and XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language) based application development, and the other for XNA, Microsoft's game development technology. The platform also includes other aspects that tie into Microsoft's "three screens and the cloud" vision.

"The end to end Windows Phone Application Platform development environment includes Visual Studio, Expression Blend, marketplace services, cloud-based Web services, and developer co-marketing and evangelism programs," according to one of the documents.

At the Mobile World Congress this week, Microsoft has focused on what Windows Phone 7 means for consumers, and it plans to talk about the developer story at next month's MIX10 conference. Microsoft is also expected to offer the Windows Phone SDK to MIX10 attendees.

Although Silverlight's role as the native application platform for Windows Phone 7 has been widely anticipated -- and reported here and here -- a Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment.

The Windows Phone Application Platform will be publicly available to all developers, and Microsoft is offering a set of managed APIs for its handset and carrier partners to use to add support for features such as cameras.

Microsoft will allow partners to use native APIs in some cases, but will closely monitor their usage during the submission and provisioning process, according to the documents. This is a major point of departure from Windows Mobile and something to which developers will have to adjust.

Launched last Fall, Microsoft's Windows Marketplace For Mobile now has more than 1245 applications from more than 1325 registered ISVs. But the big question for ISVs in the wake of the Windows Phone 7 unveiling is whether the OS will be backward compatible with Windows Mobile applications.

Microsoft isn't saying anything about this, but according to one source who's familiar with the matter, the answer is no. "Windows Phone apps will not be backward compatible, but no one except a few ISVs will care," said the source.

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