A Developer’s Roadmap to Windows Phone 7 Launch Timing

A Developer’s Roadmap to Windows Phone 7 Launch Timing

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August marks the six-month anniversary of the public unveiling of our next-generation mobile phone, Windows Phone 7. Six months is an interesting bit of time; it can fly by, or it can feel like it’s dragging on forever.  The gating factor tends to be how much fun you are having.  For us on the Windows Phone team, it feels like just yesterday that we first introduced Windows Phone 7 to the world. Now, just a blink of the eye and phones will be on shelves.

 

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.  It’s amazing to see so many inspired developers looking to create experiences for Windows Phone 7. In fact, to date there have been north of 300,000 downloads of the Windows Phone Developer Tools.

 

These first six months have affirmed that a rich application platform based on the well understood Silverlight and XNA technologies, combined with great free tools based on Visual Studio 2010 and Expression Blend is the right approach for enabling developers and designers of all skill levels who are looking to capitalize on the opportunities presented by Windows Phone 7. Throughout the process, the developer community has continued to astound us with their creative ideas.  Their use of the unique Windows Phone 7 features - like our design system, Live tiles, and location and notifications services - demonstrate that the experiences a developer can build on Windows Phone 7 match their imaginations.

 

While our developer community has been busy stretching the capabilities of the application platform and developer tools, we have been working very closely with some amazing application and game developers to ensure that Windows Phone 7 customers have the applications they expect, across a wide swath of the categories they value. Here’s a just small sample of the variety of companies with whom we have been working:

Adenclassifieds, Allociné (including sister brands: Screenrush, Filmstarts, Sensacine), APPA Mundi Ltd, Artificial Life, Inc., ebay, Inc., Esurance Insurance Services, Inc, Flixster, Intelligent Touch Solutions Ltd., Jobsite UK (Worldwide), Limited, Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc., Le Figaro group, My Interactive Limited, Open Table, Inc., Pageonce, Inc., Panoramic Software, Inc., photobucket inc., REALTOR.COM® Real Estate Search  (Move, Inc.), Red Badger Consulting Limited, rising systems networks GmbH, Seesmic, Sequence Collective Ltd, TBS Field Mobility Solutions, The Associated Press, Touchnote, Trip Mate, Inc., Tx3 Solutions, vente-privée.com, Viadeo S.A

 

Of course, it’s not just the big names in development who are going to bring great titles to Windows Phone 7 customers.  There are many multiples more of lesser known developers who are looking to be in the Windows Phone Marketplace.  Large or small, all developers will have equal opportunity to capitalize on the first mover advantage of having their apps or games ready at launch.  In order to do that, there are a few things developers will need to do:

  1. Register at the marketplace today
  2. Finish you application or game using the Beta tools
  3. Download the final Windows Phone Developer Tools when they are released on September 16th
  4. Recompile your app or game using the final tools
  5. Have your XAP ready for ingestion into the marketplace in early October when it opens

The final tools will likely have some minor breaking changes from the Beta tools, so developers may have to fix some bugs that arise.  The final tools will also include several highly requested Silverlight controls which will make it even easier for developers to deliver high quality Windows Phone 7 experiences.  Also in the September 16th final release, the panorama, pivot and Bing maps controls will all be available to drop into applications.

 

The developer tools, controls and application platform are great, but we also recognize the need for smart training.  Just last week we released a course called the Windows Phone 7 Jump Start, delivered by two of our MVPs, Andy Wigley and Rob Miles.  It includes 12 hours of classroom training and supporting exercises.  We have also recently updated the Windows Phone 7 Developer Training Kit.  We will be releasing many more hours of training in the coming weeks and months. For the XNA developers, the XNA Creator Club announced today a new set of educational materials.

 

We’re also taking additional steps to make sure that the developer experience with Windows Phone Marketplace is even more friendly and intuitive. Ask any mobile developers about their biggest headaches and you are likely to hear about an opaque or non-existent app store ingestion process.  We’ve shown how we are making the process of building apps and games easier for developers, but that is only part of the journey. The next step is getting apps and games in front of customers.  The Windows Phone Marketplace continues our commitment to having a clear and open process for certifying apps and games.  To reinforce that, today we have posted an updated set of Windows Phone Marketplace policies.  Further, in the coming weeks we will be conducting a limited Beta test cycle of our app submission and certification process.  We’re also working on significant changes to our developer portal that reflects feedback from the community.  In those changes, you’ll see enhancements meant to simplify and streamline the path for developers to get the information they need.

 

So what does this all mean?  We’ve demonstrated that you can build a phone that doesn’t just allow developers to build apps, but rather one that enhances apps with unique features like Live tiles and a design system not available anywhere else.  We’ve shown that a phone isn’t there to just run apps, but rather to understand the full context of what customers are trying to do; integrating functions like maps and search and saving the state of apps so that customers can move between them without losing content or negatively impacting battery life.  Lastly, we aren’t just building a marketplace to deliver apps and games, but rather testing and certifying every one for quality and performance - all the while maintaining a fully open and transparent process to support the developer and their Marketplace success. Our rich developer ecosystem is creating a variety of quality apps and games that take advantage of the phone’s unique features and design.

 

How will you spend the next couple of weeks?  For the developers telling us how much fun they are having with our productive set of tools and APIs, launch day will be here before they know it.  Developers now know when they will receive the final Windows Phone Developer Tools (September 16th!) and when they should have their XAPs ready for Marketplace ingestion.  300,000 tools downloads means quite a bit of imagination is going to be pouring into the apps and games that customers see on Windows Phone 7 this holiday season.  The clock is ticking.  Will you be ready?

30 Comments
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  • I so love the new updates for windows phone 7 phones. I just love its interface, color and the wide array of themes and colors to select from. They are now really  competing with one of the best developer, especially with apple. And very serious with the business that they have.

    Look at this application that I just found in www.windowsphone7comparison.com where you can do media sharing to a wifi tv in just one push. Very amazing and astounding.

  • rickrat
    2 Posts

    @gerryhigh and @BBMG You can have a vhd as a secondary "windows" but not virtually. e.g. you can boot to VHD. See this post: www.hanselman.com/.../LessVirtualMoreMachineWindows7AndTheMagicOfBootToVHD.aspx

  • I have a question. How do developers get in contact with microsoft for requesting xbox live support for their xna based windows phone 7 games? Also, about how long wil it take for microsoft to respond?

  • Savish
    1 Posts

    This may not be specifically related to this blog - in which case I would like to know where to post it. I'm a developer in SA and was quite disheartened to find out that South Africa is not on the list of available locations for registering for the Marketplace. Any ideas as to when or whether it will be included? I believe we have a pretty thriving developer community here and with the OS hitting the market soon, we'd like to participate as well - showcase our work, so to speak.

  • Great article!. I'd like to share news on our developement for a XAML-based help runtime for WP7 apps. During the development of our WP7 apps  we realized that there is no standard way to deliver a help system with a WP7 app…so we developed one. If you’re interested in knowing more about this solution or become a beta tester, checkout www.web-analysis.net/site/PhoneHelp_Overview.aspx?Source=WindowsBlog

    Windows Phone 7 Help highlights:

    - XAML-based. Help will use same look and feel as the app itself.

    - Built-in support for Google Analytics to get stats on which help topics are viewed; topics that are never viewed; what users search for etc.

    - The Google Analytics support in the help runtime also enables it for the phone app itself, enables you to quickly get usage reports using the Google Analytics web site or our AppStats reporting tool.

    - Allows you or your tech writers to use standard Microsoft Word to write the content.

    - Single assembly solution, link our single help runtime assembly and you’re good to go.

    - Microsoft Word-plugin to generate the XAML topics and the XML support files.

    - The plugin automatically updates your Visual Studio project files, adding the generated XAML and XML files.

    - Two C# lines in your code to add help. HelpLoader.LoadDefault() to load the help system. HelpLoader.Default.AddButton(page) to add help buttons to the W7P App Bar.

    - “Return to app” app bar button that takes the user back to the page from where help browsing originated

    - Help runtime supports the standard UI:

    - Table of contents page

    - Search page: XML-based search database with ranked search

    - Index page (use standard MS Word index markers when you author)

    - Favorites page: Favorites topics and search phrases

    - Context-sensitive help support

    - Support for both compile-time and run-time variables.

    - Support for conditional text, both at compile-time and at run-time

    Best,

    ---bjorn

    Web-Analysis.net – The home of the WARG – Web Analysis for Decision Makers

  • Catto
    5 Posts

    Very informative.

    Thx 4 the info,

    Catto

  • gaurav
    10 Posts

    Important Feedback:

    When i am on home screen at the very bottom, then i click on a tile and i go into an application. Now i click on home button and i am taken back to top of the home screen but not from the place i left ( which is near bottom ). Is there any plan to improve on this???

  • Great news on the Final SDK launch. I have two questions.

    1- How can I register in Pakistan as a developer

    2- Device handson?

  • So the final version of development tools will be out sept. 16, the marketplace opens early october, but windows mobile 7 wont be out until holiday season. So, how are we supposed to deploy and test our apps till then? Emulators are good during development stage but are not quite the same thing.

  • Jax
    3 Posts

    I wonder how much more applications would be in the marketplace if more countries were supported.

    I too, have been developing a WP7 application only to be disappointed that my country isn't supported (South Africa) in the marketplace.

    Is it not possible for developers like us to register, and only have our applications sold to supported countries, and have payments made to a paypal account or something?

    There are financial institutions that support transferring paypal cash to local currency.

    Just a thought...

  • BBMG
    1 Posts

    @gerryhigh - You're absolutely right. Current Beta Tools does not run on a VM, but as a professional I am doing the most development on a VM since I very often has the need for changing the infrastructure on which I am developing. However I would also like to know from @Brandon, whether the final release will be able to run, let's say in VMWare or at least in VirtualPC ? For now, it even makes problems, when you have VMWare installed on a clean machine.

  • My understanding is that the Creators Club membership covers WP7 development, but the registration process still requires a payment. Am I mistaken or has the registration process not been updated?

  • munkale
    1 Posts

    The updated Windows Phone Marketplace policies are not available as of 10:35AM EST. Could you confirm if this is just a publication issue or if it will not be release yet?

  • Brandon--when will the developer tools support being run from VM?  The simulator does not work.  As I do the majority of my development from a VM this is a major show stopper.

    Thanks.

  • mog0
    8 Posts

    I kind of agree with wiredprairie. I am a professional web developer and would love to be able to write my own applications, that meet my own needs without having to pay the annual developer program fee. I'm not too bothered about distributing them though, if I could just install them on my own phone that would be great.

  • I have similar question to nelak's - do you have a roadmap when marketplace will be available in other countries, like Croatia? I will have few applications ready, but I cannot register. My country is not on the list.

  • nelak
    1 Posts

    Do you have any estimates on when Argentina will be available as a country in the marketplace?

    I can't register because of that :(

  • I'd love to see a free option for joining the marketplace developer program (for those of us who want to only build free applications). Some suggestions here: www.wiredprairie.us/.../1119

  • @Matthew Smith - the only support for VB.NET is the PC, and even that isn't complete support. You just reference the XNA DLLs like any other. I doubt you'll see it for any other platform.

  • Hi, any news on VB.Net support??

  • Dele
    6 Posts

    @Brandon.  what will you suggest is the best way to contact Glen.  Twitter, email, other?

  • Dele
    6 Posts

    Re: @Brandon. I've been to a few of Glen's speaking engagements.  I will get in touch with him and Rob.  Thanks for the reply, and will let you know how it turns out.

  • @deleolowoyo Do you know Glen Gordon or Rob Cameron?  They are two really great GA area mobile champs for Windows Phone 7.  If you need help getting connected, let me know.

  • Gaurav
    34 Posts

    Though this may not be directly related to the topic at hand, I would just like to say that we, atleast those tech savvy customers of yours, would very much have liked to see a phone come from the microsoft stable itself (the way Google did with their Nexus One) rather than only from other manufacturers with Windows Phone 7 on it (like how the Zune HD is built by MS).

    Still , I think it will be a success.. and perhaps you can do a true Microsoft Windows Phone and conquer the competition at a later stage.

  • Dele
    6 Posts

    @Brandon I am really looking forward to the September launch.  I also hope to be a developer, amongst many other talented folks out there, creating the latest and greatest apps.  I am located here in the states (Atlanta, Ga to be exact) and I am wondering who would be the best person to contact regarding getting my hands on a demo device.  Would love to be able to "truly test" some of my apps.  Go team wp7.

  • Hi Brandon,

    Great news for both Windows Phone Developers and end users!

    We just wrote a post about your announcement, called “my kind of developer opportunity”,  if you’d like to check it out:

    http://bit.ly/90M1Cp

    Keep up the great work :)

    My kind of phone

    www.mykindofphone.com

  • Thanks brandon I am already in touch and hopefully will get a week to access the device. My question though was related to launch device. Is there going to be something like Nexus One dev device for Wp7 may be after public launch?

  • @Silvercrux - we cannot (for legal reasons) sell the pre-production devices.  If you send me an email I can get you connected up with one of our field evangelists in India, as they have phones which we are using for deployment and testing labs for third party developers.  I am brwatson [at] microsoft

  • All great news... Can you tell me when we can BUY phones for development? I am based in INDIA, would love to know when I can buy wp7 device for testing my apps and for general use :)

  • Is there a summary of the changes in the Marketplace policies document anywhere?