Be What’s Next with “Mango” Developer Tools and Platform

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” For two thousand years people have evoked this little pearl of wisdom from Seneca to explain why some people appear to stumble upon success more readily than others. Those words resonate with me personally as the guy responsible for the Windows Phone Developer ecosystem. We feel accountable to both sides of the equation: working hard to prepare developers with the tools, guidance, training and platform to create amazing content, on the one hand; and generating new opportunities through a thriving ecosystem, on the other. Today at Microsoft’s annual MIX event we are telling developers why our next version of Windows Phone represents the next great developer opportunity.

Let me start by explaining what “it” is. As Steve Ballmer noted in February, the next version of Windows Phone (code named Mango) will ship later this year and introduce some significant new features like hardware-accelerated IE9 with HTML5, enhanced multitasking capabilities, Twitter in the People hub and better support for Office documents in SkyDrive to name just a few. Today, we’re telling developers about the set of Windows Phone Developer Tools coming next month for Mango. We’re also talking about steps we’ve taken to extend the reach that developers will have with the next version of Windows Phone. What we aren’t doing is demonstrating UI or end user features and capabilities. Today is about preparing developers for the next opportunity.

For the new developer tools and platform, we asked ourselves – and many of you – what developers want most. We heard loud and clear the desire for the ability to create apps and games that addresses new scenarios with things like Web, Augmented Reality and messaging. We also heard that developers love the fact that their apps are tightly integrated into the OS and that they want even more visibility and access. We took that feedback, went to work on the next set of tools and here’s what we came up with:

We are empowering developers with new capabilities that enable new app scenarios, such as;

  • “Multitasking” meets Integrated Experiences with Live Agents: Superior customer engagement with real time interactions via Live Tiles, Push Notifications, Deep Linking and Background Agents. Multitasking is also enhanced to allow for fast applications switching, as well as background audio and file transfer.
  • Phone Integration has been greatly improved for developers looking to enable their applications to do more with their apps. The Live Tiles, Extras and push notifications functionality has been expanded to give developers more flexibility to engage with their customers.
  • Developers will also have access to the Motion Sensor library and the camera, enabling amazing augmented reality experiences. The integration extends deeper into the operating system via sockets and database access now available to apps and games.

Specific to the refreshed Windows Phone Developer Tools that arrive in May, we’ve also added;

  • A new profiler and emulator for testing
  • Support for Silverlight AND XNA in the same project
  • Structured storage that enables access to SQL database
  • Access to calendar and contacts through apps
  • And much more

Developers will be able to take advantage of all of the above when tools arrive in May. As always, we’re working hard to help developers prepare with sessions at MIX, a variety of new training and online content and of course the small army of evangelists working around the globe to help developers get every ounce of capability out of our platform.

We’re also working hard on the second piece of the equation: opportunity. For us, that means thinking about the market holistically and creating an ecosystem that, in terms of commerce and innovation, is truly greater than the sum of its parts. We believe the model should be one that serves the developer, not the other way around. We started with a commitment to quality and transparency and have steadily gained support and momentum for the burgeoning ecosystem. Now we are incredibly excited about what our alliance with Nokia means for our mutual developers and the long term potential of our shared ecosystem. And as you may have read, we’re not alone. Several industry analysts have come out in recent weeks with projections that market share for Windows Phone worldwide would climb as high as #2 over the next four years. Nokia ran a tough competition and a big part of why we won is our early developer momentum. Together Microsoft, Nokia and our other partners have huge, global ambitions.

We’re off to a great start with nearly 13,000 apps, 38,000 registered developers and more than 1.5 million tools downloaded already. Now we need to expand the opportunity for developers and get their creativity in front of more people. The next version of Windows Phone expands the developer opportunity through Windows Phone Marketplace adding:

  • More countries – 35 Mango countries with creation and commerce.
  • More Reach – Dedicated games Marketplace, beta distribution
  • More Discoverability – Exposure through Bing Search “Extras,” search functionality and new merchandising opportunities
  • More Monetization – More MO billing, expanded country support for advertising SDK

Now, you’ve heard us say that every developer matters. To show that we’re serious about helping creative people do what they love, today we made a little deal with one Windows Phone fan we’ve been tracking. Brandon Foy generated some buzz with the “We Love Windows Phone” fan video he created in January. Brandon’s passion inspired the community. He inspired us too, so we asked Brandon to make a second video. And if enough people like it, we’ll run it on television. Just 200k views gets Brandon’s creativity on National TV. Check it out at youtube.com/windowsphone.

So what does it all mean? We’re showing developers that our new ecosystem is taking shape and is already projected to be “what’s next” in mobile. We’re demonstrating that we’re not forgetting what got us here: quality, transparency and enabling the developer community to keep doing what it does best. We’re continuing to grow and invest to bring more apps to more people in new and creative ways. These aren’t commitments or opportunities that start later. The time to prepare for what’s next is now. Developers who are registered with App Hub, working with the existing Windows Phone Developer Tools and have an app or game in Marketplace have a head start. They know the tools, appreciate the Windows Phone design system and probably already have an idea of how Mango unlocks a thousand new doors. We said many times that we understand that we’re a new platform and respect that many developers will take a “wait and see” approach. With Mango, new tools and an accelerated ecosystem, Windows Phone is going to another level. If you haven’t registered, used the tools or explored the platform, we’d love for you to take a fresh look at what we’ve done to create a new long term opportunity with Windows Phone.

Lastly, thank you to all the developers who have already contributed so much momentum to Windows Phone. We are committed to giving back.

Matt