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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 biggsjm on 3/15/2010 5:08:57 PM , Rating: 2
I'm one of those fanatic iPhone users and I think it does look nice.

Although, I might feel kind of closterphobic (sp?) after seeing the full wide-view of the UI screens and then moving to an actual device, where you just see what's inside the chrome. Time will tell. Right now, without having picked up an actual device, it just seems like a lot of scrolling, but still visually appealing.

Please explain Managed Languages. I'm not very familiar with XNA/Silverlight/.NET

RE: Looks nice
By inighthawki on 3/15/2010 5:22:12 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not sure how much you DO know so I might as well explain all the way.

In an unmanaged language like C or C++, you allocate memory manually for the variables you are going to use (except for local variables because they are automatically handled by scope). When you are done with the memory, you must manually free the memory so it can be used by another application (literally by calling the free() method and passing in the memory address of the data to free).

In a managed language like C# or java, for example, there is a "garbage collector" which runs in the background which automatically runs every now and again and attempts to detect which objects are currently being referenced by any running code. If there are no references to an object, then the GC will destroy and free the memory.

It's just my own personal preference, but I personally prefer the former method of unmanaged languages. If implemented properly, you can pretty much write your own memory management, which can be specifically designed to be optimized for your application. You can implement things like smart pointers and managers to keep track of used memory and references, which will then automatically be freed as soon as the last reference is gone, as opposed to waiting for the garbage collector to run its own sweep.

I hope that clears it up. Maybe you think I'm just being stubborn but having used both languages for years I still have a preference for C++, so whatever...

RE: Looks nice
By jvillaro on 3/15/2010 10:21:11 PM , Rating: 3
Up to a point you're being a bit stubborn. :)
I used C++ and loved it until .NET and C# came out. Yes C++ still has some very good things, but if your making UI rich apps or apps that are intended to have interfaces that are atractive and easy to use (always subjective, I know), then I'll take C# windows forms, silverlight or WPF anytime.
I still have nightmares of using MFC... And I hate apps that look like they belong in the windows 95 era.

Lazy or novice programmers are always going to exist, but in this day and age I like to concentrate on solving the problem, not the challanges and problems the languages may present.

RE: Looks nice
By inighthawki on 3/15/2010 10:26:15 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe I am a bit stubborn, but this is a clear example of why we could use an update to the C API as opposed to shoving everything in the .NET framework and saying it's the only way to make decent looking apps. Windows Forms, Silverlight, WPF, etc could just have easily been part of an unmanaged API as they are now to the .NET framework.

RE: Looks nice
By biggsjm on 3/16/2010 9:00:36 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, got it. Sort of like in ObjC where you have to alloc and de-alloc your globals.


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