Windows Phone Developer Tools January Update

New years are fun. They remind you that there are so many opportunities, and that the good stuff is still in front of you. As we roll into 2011, we wanted to update you on some new opportunities on Windows Phone.

First, today we are releasing the Windows Phone Developer Tools Update (please be patient as the CDNs are updated). This update will allow developers to build apps using some updated assemblies which will ship in the forthcoming Windows Phone OS update. In practical terms, this is the tools update that supports the forthcoming addition of copy and paste, improved app performance and other enhancements for Windows Phone. All apps which are in Windows Phone Marketplace will continue to work on any phone that gets updated to the new version of the OS. Any app built using this new version of the tools will also work on phones that have not been updated to the new OS. (quick links: WPDT update & Visual Studio update – you need them both, and Release Notes).

The new developer tools include updated reference assemblies, a new version of the Windows Phone OS emulator image, and several minor bug fixes. This update also replaces the October 2010 update, including all of the fixes from that patch. If you are building a new machine with a new developer environment, this version of the Windows Phone Developer Tools is all you need.

Second, while the majority of all apps will work just fine, we do encourage every developer to open their projects with the updated tools and do a sanity check on their projects. Most apps will not need to be recompiled or resubmitted. All apps will benefit from the changes made in the forthcoming OS update, resulting in performance increases, as well as copy/paste functionality for your customers who update to the new OS.

There are a few corner cases where developers have not followed our user interface guidance and done things like included a TextBox inside of a Panorama or Pivot control. We have scanned the applications in the marketplace to look for such cases and will be reaching out to those developers to let them know that we think they have a textbox inside of a Panorama or Pivot control,and that they should check to see if a recompile and resubmit is necessary. The issue is that with the new copy/paste, customers will experience a suboptimal user experience when trying to expand a copy/paste selection inside of a Panorama or Pivot, specifically that the Panorama or Pivot will start siding away from the finger gestures.

Third, if you have downloaded the Windows Phone Developer Tools, you are one in a million. We have recently just crossed over the 1M download mark, which is simply incredible given that the tools have been available less than a year. We continue to be amazed by the creativity exhibited by developers on the Windows Phone platform. They tell us that they love the canvas they have with the developer tools, and they love building for the platform. 27,000 of you have become registered developers in the AppHub, and we now have over 7,500 apps in the marketplace. We are humbled by your activity, and continue to work to make this the most enjoyable platform on which to build apps for mobile.

In addition to the updated Windows Phone Developer Tools, we have a few additional updates to pass along:

1. We have entered into a partnership with Zones.com and all of our handset OEMs and mobile operator partners to sell phones to developers without requiring a voice or data contract. The phones are still carrier locked (varies by region), but you can now head over to Zones.com to purchase a Windows Phone 7 for your development purposes. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Go to our partner’s site:  http://www.zones.com/windowsphonedeveloperpurchase
  • Pick the phone you want to use (note: these devices are carrier locked, based on region)
  • Go thru the site’s check-out process
  • You will have to pay all sales taxes and shipping charges

2. We understand that many new Windows Phone developers have experience with other platforms. We’ve been compiling tools and guidance on the Windows Phone Interoperability site to help developers who have been creating phone applications on various platforms ramp up quickly on the Windows Phone 7 platform. The site addresses interoperability scenarios aiming to provide tools and guidance to help developers who are building applications for multiple platforms. If this sounds like you, check out the site.

3. Finally, if you are going to be at Mobile World Congress in mid-Feb, or were looking for a reason to be, please let us know if you want to attend our developer day event on Wed February 16th. We’d love to see you there.