When the Windows Phone 7 OS went gold two weeks ago, the Windows Phone ecosystem began the final preparations for the upcoming launch. OEMs and mobile operators have begun final testing of their handsets, but developers have had to wait just a little while longer to complete apps and games. Today, that wait is over. The Windows Phone Developer Tools have gone final, and we have released to the Web. This release is English only, but we will be releasing the French, Italian, German and Spanish language versions in the next couple of weeks.
For developers to put their apps into the marketplace, opening in early October, you will need to download this version of the tools. Any application built with a previous version of the tools will fail application certification in the Marketplace. When you do submit your application, you can expect it to take about five days to pass or fail certification, though you can check the status of your app submission at any time at the developer portal. For more information on passing certification, please see the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace policies.
Apart from announcing the release of the tools, there’s quite a bit of new information to share, so buckle up.
First up are apps. Some of the biggest names in apps and games are working to bring the right mix of high quality content to Windows Phone 7. We’ve been working closely with these companies to ensure that customers find quality across the categories of apps and games about which they care. Just last night we hosted a little get together where .NET Developer Platform VP, Scott Guthrie, and Windows Phone Developer Platform GM, Charlie Kindel, talked about bringing creativity to life on Windows Phone 7. I provided a few examples that demonstrate what’s possible on our platform by showing near final apps for Twitter, Netflix, OpenTable, Flixster and Travelocity for the first time anywhere. We have posted the app demo videos for your enjoyment. You can also see what Scott had to say about the tools, and his new Twitter app.
While these companies are known to many of you, what’s really blown the team away has been the quality and creativity coming from the broader developer community. Just look at some of the apps and games that have already caught our eye on YouTube. Even cooler, check out this company called UberGeekGames, who created BulletAsylum. This is a game I can only describe as Geometry Wars + Missile Command. Ian, this looks awesome, and I cannot wait to get this game when you release it.
As we mentioned above, we’re taking lots of steps to help ensure that people find quality apps for their phone. We also appreciate the need to respect the wisdom of the market and not introduce arbitrary restrictions on what kind of app can be submitted. Besides, every developer has to start somewhere, and every developer deserves to have that moment where they show their friends their app running on a phone.
The final release of the Windows Phone Developer Tools is the culmination of hard work on the part of many talented people. We couldn’t, however, have done it without the help of the community. The feedback we received since our initial release in March has enabled us to make some changes, resulting in a better finished product. Everything you need to begin developing apps is included in a single download: Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone, the Windows Phone Emulator, Expression Blend 4 for Windows Phone, and XNA Game Studio 4.0. The installer is smart enough to download only what you need, and the tools will work with your existing Visual Studio 2010 and Expression Blend 4 installations.
The community was also instrumental in ensuring that key controls were made available with the developer tools. The Panorama control is one of the core components of the Windows Phone Design System (codenamed ‘Metro’) that powers the Hubs that are such a prominent part of the product. Panorama based applications offer a unique manner to view controls, data and services in a long horizontal canvas that extends beyond the confines of the screen, and provides the touch and animation features that invite the user to explore and consume your application. The panorama generally serves as the starting point from which the user can drill into subsequent experiences.
Pivot is the second unique control to Windows Phone 7 provided as part of the final developer tools. Pivot is a way to visualize data for customers, but give them the ability to filter from one view of the data to another. The speed and simplicity of the control will be a welcome enhancement to data driven applications.
Lastly, the Bing Maps control was added to the final release of the tools. We are now giving developers the ability to instantly build compelling map experiences that include a full suite of map functionality that users have come to expect… search, directions, scroll, zoom, aerial view, street view and more, all with a single drag and drop operation. We’ve also provided this control with a free commercial license for your Windows Phone apps. Go forth and be awesome.
While not included in the Windows Phone Developer Tools, another control you’ll want to know about is provided by the Microsoft Advertising team. There are developers who want to sell their apps, some who want them to be free, and even more still who will want to put ads inside of their apps. The Mobile Advertising SDK is available today making is very easy for developers to generate ad revenues from their apps. The team has also released the first real-time, bid-based mobile ad exchange, allowing for revenue maximization of ad placements when they are served. Raj Kapoor has a great post talking about this release.
Also based on feedback from the community, we are separately releasing the Silverlight for Windows Phone Toolkit. These controls are being released under MS-PL license. There are six controls in total, and these are meant to augment the Windows Phone Developer Tools experience. The GestureListener provides developers with a control to handle the full range of gesture events, including Tap, DoubleTap, Hold, Drag, Flick and Pinch. There is also a DatePicker and TimePicker to make it easier and more uniform to get dates and times from customers, and they will localize automatically to the correct date and time format setting. The other controls are ContextMenu, WrapPanel and ToggleSwitch. You can download the controls, and get more information, at the Silverlight Codeplex site.
For those developers looking for additional help getting to awesome, we have been hard at work creating more great training courses. A while back, we introduced our Jump Start training series. The first 12 sessions have delivered an astounding 125,000 hours of video based training. We’re adding more content to the JumpStart series, including such topics as how to use the Panorama and Pivot controls, using Blend to build Windows Phone 7 apps, tombstoning and improving the performance of Silverlight apps on the phone. This will be a one day live session event on Sept 21st presented by the wonderful Rob Miles and Andy Wigley, and you can register here for the live session. Registration space filled up last time – over 2,000 live participants. If you miss this live event, rest assured we will be posting the videos to Channel9 shortly afterward. Subscribe to them through Zune and iTunes.
If you want a little more personalized training, you can always attend the pre-day Bonus Track at DevConnections, focused on Windows Phone 7 development. This is an all day, in depth, technical event being run by Shawn Wildermuth of AgiliTrain. Our own VP Joe Belfiore will be there as well. It’s going to be well worth the price of admission.
Like I said, we had a lot of stuff to share. Our primary goal in building the Windows Phone Developer Tools was to make it fast, easy and fun to create amazing and beautiful apps and games for Windows Phone 7. The developer platform is really all about enabling developers to build whatever they can dream up. The unique capabilities built into the application platform, manifesting in distinctive UI and great user experiences, mean that developers can take a fresh start and rethink the experiences they are delivering to the mobile screen. The tools are nothing short of what you should come to expect from a company that values developers; amazing, and fully supported by a company that puts you, the developers, first. So please: Go get the tools. Build your apps. Launch them with us.