Friday, September 30, 2011

Windows Phone "Mango" Tools Released


Windows Phone "Mango" Tools Released

The Release to the Web of the free tools coincides with the rollout of Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" and the first Web version of the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Microsoft launched the final version of its free Windows Phone Software Development Kit (SDK) 7.1 for building mobile applications that run on the Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" operating system on Wednesday. The highly anticipated "Mango," which is rolling out to customers worldwide starting this week, is the first major software update of the platform since Windows Phones first appeared in October 2010.

The new features and capabilities that "Mango" offers, combined with the launch of a host of devices, is "stunning" compared to Windows Phones a year ago, observed IDC analyst Al Hilwa. "Being able to showcase data and numbers in a home screen tile with the prominence that the Metro interface [offers] has to be exciting," he said in an email. "Other capabilities like taking advantage of XNA and Silverlight in one app or finally being able to write augmented reality apps thanks to the camera APIs should also be big draws."

The final release of the free tools coincides with the widespread release of Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" by mobile operators worldwide, an announcement made by Microsoft on Tuesday, when it launched the first Web version of its Windows Phone Marketplace.

The Windows Phone SDK 7.1 Release to the Web (RTW) adds seven languages bringing the total of supported languages to nine. The RTW also fixes bugs and improves the installation process, according to Microsoft. The SDK is used to build Windows Phone 7.0 and Windows Phone 7.5 applications. The SDK includes Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone, Windows Phone Emulator, Windows Phone SDK 7.1 Assemblies, Silverlight 4 SDK and DRT, Windows Phone SDK 7.1 Extensions for XNA Game Studio 4.0, Microsoft Expression Blend SDK for Windows Phone 7, Microsoft Expression Blend SDK for Windows Phone OS 7.1, WCF Data Services Client for Window Phone and the Microsoft Advertising SDK for Windows Phone.

Developers who used the Windows Phone SDK 7.1 Release Candidate to build 7.0 and 7.5 apps do not need to recompile their apps or to resubmit them to the Windows Phone Marketplace, noted Cliff Simpkins, Microsoft senior product manager, Windows Phone Experience, in a Windows Phone Developer blog post about the RTW of the tools.

Beta 2 to Mango RTM
Windows Phone developers using the 7712 beta of Windows Phone 7.5 may want to check out Microsoft's RTM update process in the Windows Phone 7.5: Updating OS from Beta 2 to RTM forum. Simpkins explains how to receive the "Mango" RC build 7720 and clean up the pre-production provisioning on developer devices. The final step, according to Simpkins, is to "repoint" the developer phones to the production servers of their respective carriers/handset manufacturers to receive the updated drivers and firmware. Developers, who commented on the forum, reported smooth transitions from Beta 2 to the Mango OS RTM.

Microsoft is using a phased rollout strategy for Windows Phone 7.5 customers to prevent any widespread problems with the updates. Roughly 10 percent of customers are expected to be notified of its availability this week. The Mango update could take four weeks to reach 100 percent of users, according to Microsoft.

In August Microsoft started to test and certify applications for Windows Phone 7.5. The company originally planned to freeze Windows Phone 7.0 apps and prohibit updates of their functionality as soon as the "Mango" versions of the applications were published.

Updates for 7.0 Apps
Based on developer feedback, Microsoft is changing its update policy for 7.0 apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace. By the end of October, Microsoft will provide functionality in its App Hub that allows developers to publish updates to 7.0 versions of their apps, according to a Windows Phone Developer blog authored by Todd Brix, senior director of the Windows Phone Marketplace. The company is also providing "New for 7.5" screenshots and text overlay graphics, according to Brix, which developers can use to help consumers identify Mango applications.

More than 70,000 developers have updated their developer devices to the Mango OS in recent months, according to Simpkins. New devices, including phones from Nokia, may increase developer interest further, especially if the market responds.

"What do developers want?" said Hilwa. "Well, as they look at the multi-lingual Windows 8 development model, they may feel jealous, but the good news is that their skills and most of their code should move nicely and quickly to Windows 8. The ecosystem convergence between phone and PC will prove a huge Microsoft asset in its battle the next few years."