Developer Developer Developer Sydney and the Windows Phone 7

In: Conference|Windows Phone 7

18 Jul 2010

Someone once wrote: Build IT and they shall come.

We came, we saw, and we rejoiced. For it was Developer Developer Developer Sydney. And it was awesome!

One of the largest free developer turnouts that I have had the privilege to attend. Rumors on the day were that over 150 .NET developers over Sydney and Brisbane (and possibly other areas) converged on the Microsoft headquarters for free coffee and a lot of nerd talk.


Scott Hanselman speaking at DDDSydney. (Photo courtesy of rbanks)

Windows Phone 7

There are probably a lot of rumors that are going around about how Microsoft will be marketing the new windows phone 7. What I can tell most definitely is that the new phone is NOT a normal windows phone. Microsoft have woken up and smelled their own manure when it came to PDA’s and phones and decided to do it differently, and by differently I mean taking the best parts of apples iPhone and Googles Android and making a hybrid clone.

Here’s a demo.

Standard hardware

This is where Microsoft took a leaf out of apples book and decided to standardize the hardware for windows phone 7, and came up with these specifications.

  • A touch-operated OS.
  • An available resolution of 480 x 800 and maybe later have 320 x 480.
  • Screens used should be all OLED and be capable of sensing at least 4 contact points (A hardware keyboard is optional)
  • At least 256MB of RAM and there should be at least 8GB of flash storage.
  • Mandatory GPU acceleration with DirectX 9 support and video acceleration too.
  • Native support for DivX versions 4, 5 and 6
  • At least a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash and a hardware shutter key.
  • Provide A-GPS, compass, accelerometer, ambient light and proximity sensor.

The other three required hardware keys are Start, Search and Back.

So having the above hardware standardized on the phone makes it very easy for developers to develop for the windows phone 7. The biggest bugbear about developing for Android is the plethora of non standard hardware that you have to support, and some hardware manufacturers (HTC?) whom decide to change hardware and deploy a new android phone every 2-3 months. And some HTC users still can’t update their OS cause HTC have stuffed with the OS so much to get their hardware working.

Development Environments

Android can be many things, but it does have an awesome development environment. As opposed to iPhone which uses objective C, and in come cases you may need to incorporate a compiled C/CPP dll because the existing apple software libraries fail to come up to standard.

So Microsoft took a page out of Androids Book and went with a Managed Code approach, unfortunately you will not be able to use any non managed code with Windows 7 mobile. However these days that should no longer be a problem.

Silverlight and XNA

Microsoft have also taken the best part of developing for the XBox and have provided FREE (forever) development tools to develop for the Windows Phone 7. A free edition of Windows Phone 7 Expression Blend, Windows Phone 7 emulator (beta), Visual Studio 2010 Express (if you don’t already have VS 2010, if you do it will plug in to your existing VS 2010).

Developing using Silverlight looked pretty amazing, Expression Blend is a very awesome UI which you can use to quickly and rapidly flesh out a working User Interface with transition effects and mock data. Double Kudos to microsoft for this. One of the hardest parts of developing for the Android Phone is to try and wrestle with the XML layouts. Note that the screens are XAML underneath and for complex animations you may want to deal directly with XAML as Expression Blend can be too verbose.

XNA

The second thing you can do with the phone is get right down and dirty with the hardware and work directly with XNA. From what I’ve seen of the XNA code they have added a few extra libraries to deal with interfacing with the hardware, however you should only require minimal changes to get your exising XNA project working on a windows phone 7.

NOW THAT IS AWESOME!

Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Marketplace

Microsoft also announced that they will be providing a marketplace and only the marketplace can install applications on the Windows Phone 7. This news has disgruntled a lot of people, including some Australian Telecos who would like to have a piece of the Microsoft pie when it comes to Australia. Additionally Microsoft stated that they have not forgotten about their corporate clients who have a history of developing phone applications for internal use. How they did not forget about them I have no idea and they were very scare on any details regarding this point.

To upload an application for the Phone 7 marketplace you need to buy a Live Developers Membership. Those of you who do XNA development will be familiar with this setup.

Live membership is $150 p/a.
All software sold on the marketplace will have a 70:30 split, 70% going to the developer.
In addition all games and software must uphold a PG rating.
You will also only be able to upload 5 free applications in a year, and you must pay $20 for any additional free application.

The reasoning behind the 5 free apps per year is to stop an influx of free fart apps flooding the marketplace. Which is probably one of the worst things about the iPhone and Android Marketplaces.

In Summary

All in all, microsoft have come up with an awesome development environment. I can see a lot of people jumping on the XNA bandwagon and providing awesome 3D games with hardware accelleration to the mobile phone market. With awesome free tools such as XNA and Silverlight. About the only thing that can stop the Microsoft Band wagon would be faulty hardware.

Only time will tell if Microsoft can beat apple at its own game.


3 Responses to Developer Developer Developer Sydney and the Windows Phone 7

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Topsy.com

July 21st, 2010 at 3:00 am

This post was mentioned on Twitter by Larry King.

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Rob

May 24th, 2011 at 9:26 am

I can see my baldspot, front and center!

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Justin

May 27th, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Was that you sitting right up the front there rob? Couldn’t see too clearly from the glare (j/k). It was a good day, free coffee and munchies wasn’t bad. I was hoping they were going to give out some Windows Phone 7 samples, but they didn’t.

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justin

Justin is a Senior Software Engineer living in Brisbane. A Polyglot Developer proficient in multiple programming languages including [C#, C/C++, Java, Android, Ruby..]. He's currently taking an active interest in Teaching Kids to Code, Functional Programming, Robotics, 3D Printers, RC Quad-Copters and Augmented Reality.

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