Microsoft: Windows Phone Development Tools Are In Hot Demand

Developers have download more than 300,000 copies of the development tools for Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 7 in what the vendor is touting as a harbinger of the potential success of the new mobile operating system.

Microsoft, in a blog posted Monday by Brandon Watson, Windows Phone 7 director, also disclosed that the final version of the Windows Phone Developer Tools would be released Sept. 16.

Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 7 six months ago and plans to ship the software this fall in time for handset manufacturers like LG and Samsung to develop mobile devices that incorporate the operating system in time for holiday shoppers.

Microsoft is playing catch-up in the mobile operating system arena where Windows Mobile, the current version of the vendor's mobile operating system, lags behind leaders Symbian and Research In Motion, and even more recent entrants Android and Apple's iPhone OS.

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Since debuting Windows Phone 7 Microsoft has been pulling out all the stops to make sure that the product is a success. Microsoft made sure it got top billing at the Worldwide Partner Conference last month, for example. And last week Microsoft showed off some 50 video game titles that will run with Windows Phone 7 in an effort to make it attractive to the gaming set.

Microsoft also has launched an online showroom called Mobile App Match for generating ideas and feedback on Windows Phone 7 applications and an online marketplace where those applications can be sold.

"All of the work of the last six months is certainly paying off, as just about every conversation we have with developers focuses on their strategy for generating more business with Windows Phone 7." Watson wrote in his blog. He said that to date "there have been north of 300,000 downloads of the Windows Phone Developer Tools."

The Windows Phone 7 development toolset, based on Visual Studio 2010 and the Microsoft Expression Blend user interface design tool, are critical for programmers building applications and games to run on Windows Phone 7.

But those tools are themselves still in beta stage. Watson noted that developers should download the final version of the toolset when it's released Sept. 16 and recompile their application or game using the final tools. He said the final tools "will likely have some minor breaking changes from the beta tools, so developers may have to fix some bugs that arise."

Watson also said the final release of the tools will include some "highly requested Silverlight controls," and the panorama, pivot and Bing maps controls would all be available to add to applications.