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Associated Press app  (Source: Microsoft)

Windows Phone Marketplace  (Source: Microsoft)

A game for the Windows Phone 7 Series Platform, "The Harvest"  (Source: Microsoft)

  (Source: Microsoft) comic book app  (Source: Microsoft)
Microsoft opens up about Windows Phone 7 Series

Microsoft really wowed the tech industry when it unveiled Window Phone 7 Series earlier this year. Apple's iPhone has been a dominate mainstay in the smartphone market since its introduction in 2007 -- and there have been many competitors that have come to market since then -- but Microsoft is really looking to turn heads with its visuals-heavy Windows Phone 7 Series platform.

Although phones based on the new platform won't be available until Q4 of 2010, Microsoft today gave potential customers and developers a peek at what to expect from platform at MIX10. Microsoft is putting a lot of support behind both XNA Framework for graphics intensive gaming (you can see a short demonstration of the game The Harvest here on YouTube) and Silverlight to bring rich media to the platform. As has already been reported, Microsoft is also working closely with Adobe to bring Flash 10.1 to the platform -- something that Apple has been very reluctant to embrace for its popular iPhone and iPod touch.

Windows Phone 7 Series brings together a rich application environment, powerful hardware, a fresh approach to software and a smart new design,” explained Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows Phone Program Management. “It was designed to generate incredible opportunities for developers and designers to quickly and easily deliver compelling applications and games. With the best developer tools, an established ecosystem and marketplace, and a path for developers to use their Silverlight and XNA Framework skill sets, we are delivering an application platform that is simple, powerful and inspiring.”

In addition, the folks from Redmond have revealed new details on the Microsoft Location Service (MLS) which will provide apps with a "single point of reference to acquire location information", and the Microsoft Notification Service (MNS) which is similar in concept to the push notifications systems on the iPhone.

The use of the MNS means -- as far as we can tell for now -- that true multitasking won't be available to the Windows Phone 7 Series; at least not initially. However, this could all change between now and the actual launch of the Windows Phone 7 Series platform later this year. After all, Apple is rumored to be including full multitasking in its iPhone OS 4.0 update this summer, and that would be a big incentive for Microsoft to join in on the fun as well.

Microsoft has announced a wealth of free developer tools to get the ball rolling with third-party applications for its new platform. These tools include:

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone
  • Windows Phone 7 Series add-in for Visual Studio 2010 RC
  • XNA Game Studio 4.0
  • Windows Phone 7 Series Emulator
  • Expression Blend for Windows Phone Community Technology Preview 

Microsoft also showed off its Windows Phone Marketplace which will be home to apps, games, music, and podcasts. According to Microsoft, the Windows Phone Marketplace supports "one-time credit card purchases, mobile operator billing and advertising-funded applications." Developers can also give potential customer the option to experience "try before you buy" before plunking down cash on an app that you may later regret.

Some of the companies that have already signed on for the Windows Phone Marketplace include the Associated Press, Pandora, PopCap Games, Photobucket, Sling Media, Netflix, Fandango, and Fouresquare Labs. One of the more impressive demos was Netflix live TV show/movie streaming which Gizmodo has covered right here.

As the browser, server, Web and devices evolve, a focus on delivering consistently great user experiences has become paramount,” said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Platform. “By extending our familiar platform technologies and tools to phones, Microsoft is delivering the premier application development experience across a variety of devices and form factors.”

Microsoft appears to be firing on all cylinders when it comes to Windows Phone 7 Series. While Apple may appear to the be direct target of Microsoft's latest efforts in the smartphone market, growing threats like Google's Android OS had better watch out as well. In addition, Palm's floundering webOS devices seem to be in for some rough seas ahead if its latest marketshare numbers are any indication of where that platform is heading.

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RE: Looks nice
By Flunk on 3/15/2010 4:57:22 PM , Rating: 4
Progress happens, programmers need to adapt. C++ is beginning the downward spiral towards obsolesence. How many applications are written directly in assembly these days? That provides the best possible performance if done right...

RE: Looks nice
By inighthawki on 3/15/2010 5:14:05 PM , Rating: 3
You have a point, C++ is getting dated, but at this point it still has superior performance AND it's a high level language.

Sure C# and newer languages have some newer features, but they also abstract out a few of the most important features, or at least make them very difficult to use (unsafe code in C#, function pointers in C# and java (not even delegates for java)).

I'm not saying we should step backwards, but honestly I think it would be MORE productive if we just refined C/C++ instead of forcing everyone into managed C# and prebuilt frameworks like XNA. I can't lie and say that XNA/Silverlight/WPF/etc don't look well polished, but come on, all of it could easily exist in a C/C++ API, and it's most likely even IMPLEMENTED in C/C++ under the hood.

I do understand the push to try to get anyone and everyone to program for the platform, but child-proofing the tools isn't a perfect solution. Why not ALSO give access to the more enhanced functionality and control available by languages like C/C++, and leave managed languages like C# to those who don't feel like properly structuring their program or simply don't know programming well enough yet?

RE: Looks nice
By noirsoft on 3/15/2010 5:56:45 PM , Rating: 1
If you added all of the features to C++ that make C# great, it would no longer be C++. It would be C#.

Seriously, once you added language-level support for things like delegates, properties, anonymous methods, and take out the borked things in C++ like unions, you no longer have C++.

The performance advantages of C++ over managed languages is highly overrated. Unless you are writing the next DOOM or Unreal, there is no difference. If you have particular time-critical code, just write up an unmanaged DLL with those parts, and call it from C#.

RE: Looks nice
By inighthawki on 3/15/2010 6:14:11 PM , Rating: 3
Well personally I do write a lot of real-time code, as I write game-engine code myself. But many of what you mentioned do not require any massive language changes.

Properties- Simply get and set methods which are abstracted, support can be added to a c++ compiler with ease.

delegates- far inferior to a function pointer if you ask me. Why have a object-like approach to a pointer?

anonymous methods- could also be added easily.

None of these things significantly change the language, just minor extensions with support for classic c++ features.

RE: Looks nice
By Spivonious on 3/16/2010 9:11:06 AM , Rating: 1
How do you strongly type a function pointer?

Honestly, the strength of .NET is in the framework, not the garbage collector or language features.

RE: Looks nice
By bug77 on 3/15/2010 6:26:33 PM , Rating: 2
Depends on what you have in mind. Pretty interfaces aside, C++ still commands a strong lead. Plus it works outside Windows, which some programmers choose to take advantage of.

True, it may not have the marketshare it had 10 years ago, because other languages have matured that do some things better than C++, forcing C++ out of those segments. But downwards spiral? ASM and C still have their places to this day and are critical to some segments, so I bet C++ isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Hell, Cobol hasn't done anything special in years and it's still used in some places...

RE: Looks nice
By Spivonious on 3/16/2010 9:12:18 AM , Rating: 2
C# is available on Linux with the Mono framework.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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