Recapping Windows Phone 8 developer news

It’s been a week since we unveiled Windows Phone 8 to the world at the Windows Phone Summit. As the person responsible for our new developer platform, I thought I’d take a moment to recap some of our key developer announcements in case you missed them.

Shared Windows core

Our biggest platform-related revelation last week was that Windows Phone 8 is built on a single shared code with Windows 8. This benefits every player in the ecosystem—end users, OEMs, mobile operators, and of course app developers.

So what does it mean for you? First, it means that your apps will be running on the same base platform that powers a billion PCs around the world and will provide your apps with a stable, high-performance core on top of next-generation hardware. More directly, it means that you’ll be able to share a significant amount of code between your Windows 8 apps and your Windows Phone 8 apps, in many cases only adjusting for the screen size differences between slates and phones.

Just so there isn’t any confusion: we’re committed to helping ensure that Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 apps work on Windows Phone 8. In fact, with the announcement of automatic pre-compilation of your app in the store, we expect existing apps to launch and run faster on Windows Phone 8 without changing a single line of code.

Native code support

As I mentioned, one of the significant benefits of a shared Windows core is the ease of portability between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. We also know that the most popular way to ensure portability across numerous devices is to encapsulate most of an app’s logic in platform-independent native code. That’s one of the main reasons we’ve announced that Windows Phone 8 will support C++ and C.

I know many of you have questions about the implications. For example, over the last few days I’ve seen developers asking whether this means they can mix C#/XAML with DirectX/C++ or consume native C++ libraries from C# apps. Absolutely! You can mix the code as well as the UI (one element in XAML, another in DirectX).

In fact, I’ll share a little secret: If you watched Joe Belfiore’s Marble Maze demo during last week’s summit, you actually saw this in action. The game was clearly built in DirectX, but the splash-page buttons to start the game were built in XAML. My point is that developers can choose the technology that’s right for each part of their app.

In addition to portability, native code offers the opportunity to really take advantage of the base hardware of the device, something that’s critical to modern native games. On the app side, we know that one of the most popular cross-platform frameworks is the SQLite database engine, which is why we’re committed to supporting the SQLite library on Windows Phone 8.

Enterprise support

Since the launch of Windows Phone 7, one of the most common pieces of feedback we’ve heard from developers is, “I love my Windows Phone—now please help me convince my IT department to adopt and support it.”

With Windows Phone 8, we’re delivering a product that is enterprise ready, and are specifically excited about a couple of new additions aimed at enterprise developers:

  • Company Hub – This custom app framework can be used by enterprises to build a convenient one-stop shop for enterprise-specific apps and information. We’ll also be delivering templates and samples to help businesses create their own compelling Hub experiences.
  • LOB app deployment – Many enterprises understandably want to keep their line-of-business (LOB) apps in-house, controlling how they get published and deployed. In Windows Phone 8, we support several new channels for deploying LOB apps to enterprise devices, including installing from a website, SharePoint, or email.

And there’s more 

Native code and enterprise support expand the reach of Windows Phone and make possible entirely new classes of apps. But we’ve also made significant investments to make existing apps even better.

  • Improved multitasking – In Windows Phone 7.5, we introduced multitasking. In Windows Phone 8, we’re expanding it to cover two critical new scenarios – VoIP and background location services. Now you can continue tracking your progress on a run while keeping up on the latest sports scores or quickly check a text message while taking a VoIP call.
  • Talk to your apps – Speech has always been an integral part of Windows Phone experience. In Windows Phone 8, we’re taking it to the next level by delivering a comprehensive speech platform for developers. You can now enable your apps to be launched with commands to perform (“Start Netflix, play Princess Bride”), or allow users to issue speech commands that work within the app itself.
  • In-app purchase – We’re committed to help provide new ways for our developer community to make money on the Windows Phone platform. In Windows Phone 8, we’ll deliver an in-app purchase service that lets developers sell additional content and experiences within the app itself or via the Windows Phone Marketplace and the new built-in Wallet feature. Todd Brix talked a bit more about this in his post yesterday.
  • Marketplace expansion – With Windows Phone 8, apps will be available for download from Marketplace in more than 180 countries and regions—roughly three times what we serve today. Developers in these markets can also submit apps via AppHub, up from 38 markets today. Again, see Todd’s post for a full list.

As Joe said last week, we’ve only just started to tell the story of our next release and what it offers consumers and developers; make sure to subscribe to this blog for more Windows Phone 8 developer announcements.  In the meantime, have a great weekend, keep building great apps—and onward to the next 100,000!