Introducing Windows Phone 7 and the Windows Phone Platform

1/15/2011 7:30:32 PM

1. Windows Phone Overview

Microsoft Windows Phone is a great consumer phone because it has all of the features to which users have become accustomed with the Apple iPhone and Android-powered smartphones, like the Motorola Droid and HTC Incredible. These features include multitouch, a beautiful user interface (UI) that implements a new modern design Microsoft has named Metro, social networking services like Facebook, and support for popular e-mail accounts such as Yahoo, Hotmail, Google, and AOL, or, if you are a corporate user, Microsoft Exchange. Uniquely, the phone ships with a version of Microsoft Office that you can use to read, edit, save, and synch any Word files, Excel spreadsheets, and other Office formats, making it a great phone for those who use Office at home or in the office. Windows Phone can also integrate with Xbox LIVE, making it a great choice for gamers.

Microsoft Windows Phone uses the Zune software to sync installed applications, pictures, music, and back up and flash operating system updates. As a developer, you'll also use Zune in conjunction with Visual Studio to debug your applications on a real device.

Microsoft also introduces the concept of a hub with the Windows Phone: a People hub where users can store all of their contacts and social networking connections, a Music hub where consumers can listen to, download, and purchase music, and an App hub, also known as the Marketplace, which you will be most interested in, since you will be publishing the application you create.

Having a phone that's a hit with consumers is important because the consumer marketplace is where the greatest opportunities for applications that you write are to be found. One of the great things about Windows Phone is that Microsoft imposes the hardware specifications on the phone manufacturer, making it easy for you to develop an application without worrying about writing special codes for the specific devices. For any future release of the phone, you are guaranteed that the application you write today will work regardless of the brand of the phone.

Naturally, you want to know what language you'll need to master for your work. For Windows Phone, the language of choice today is C#; Visual Basic (VB) programmers will have to wait. Although Microsoft has said it will support that popular language on the phone. As for an application development framework, you have two choices: Silverlight or XNA. Silverlight and XNA both use core .NET Framework.

2. Windows Phone Hardware Specifications

Knowing what's included in the Microsoft Windows Phone hardware specifications will help you prepare for the special needs of projects you'd like to attempt. Table 1 lists the minimum hardware requirements any Windows Phone manufacturer must meet, and also includes suggestions as to how they can impact developers like you.

Table 1. Windows Phone Minimum Hardware Requirements
Hardware FeatureDescription
Must display at WVGA (800 × 480)Having to worry about only one single screen resolution makes it easy to develop an application.
4-point-multi-touch capableThis is unique to the Windows Phone, and you can use this feature to create four-player games. There is definitely room for innovation for using this particular feature.
DirectX 9 hardware accelerationThis means the phone will have a graphical processing unit allowing graphically intense tasks in the application to be offloaded to the graphics chips of the phone. This will help you create very smooth and responsive applications and games. This also means 3D games are possible as well.
GPSYou will be able to create location-aware applications.
AccelerometerThis feature will measure the change of the acceleration in the phone. The accelerometer can be used in games or in creating utility applications, like a level.
CompassDetect north, south, east, and west.
LightCan be used for flashlight for the camera.
Digital CameraFor taking a picture and sharing it on Facebook and other social networking sites.
Hardware controls: back, start, and search buttonsEvery phone will have three buttons on the front of the phone. Keep in mind that you will be required to use back buttons for going backward in your application, otherwise having separate back buttons in the application can confuse the user.
Support data connections: cellular network and Wi-FiThis feature allows you to connect to the Internet. You can create web services and consume them from your applications, or you can consume third-party APIs like Twitter or Facebook in your application.
256 MB of RAM and 8GM flash storageKeep in mind that your application can use only 90MB of memory unless the device has more memory than 256. If your application does not respect this, the application will fail the certification process at the Marketplace. Also 8GB of flash memory used for storage is shared among other applications, so if you are saving any kind of static data into the Isolated Storage, you must check for the space available and handle the exception appropriately.

AT&T had announced it would carry Samsung's Focus, LG's Quantum, and HTC's SurroundTM. And T-Mobile had announced it would carry HTC's HD7. For those who have other cell phone providers, Dell said it planned to ship its Venue Pro. You can find more information on the release of these phones at

In the next section, you will learn how the software behind these great consumer phones also provides a great development platform for developers.

3. Application Development Life Cycle

Understanding the application life cycle will help you understand what you will need to prepare much more in-depth discussion including certification process. Figure 1 illustrates a high-level view of the life cycle of an application.

Figure 1. Application development life cycle

As a developer, you will start out at the App Hub registering with your Windows Live ID (create it if you do not have one). Once signed up at the App Hub, you can register your physical device so you can debug in the real device. Remember that you can add up to three devices. Using Visual Studio and/or Expression Blend, you will be creating your application and debugging using the emulator or the device you registered. Once the application is created, you need to submit the application to the certification process.

In order to ensure that your application will pass the Marketplace certification process, it would be a good idea for you to read and understand the application certification document found at As part of the certification process, your application will go through a series of validations against the application and content policies, packaging, code, phone feature disclosure, language, and images requirements. Your application will also get tested on reliability, performance, resource management, phone functionality uses, and security. The certification process is in place to help promote quality applications to consumers, to protect consumers from malwares, and protect Microsoft services.

Once the application passes the certification process, it will be deployed to the Marketplace and downloaded and used by the consumer. The consumer will use your application and provide ratings and comments, and reports can be generated by you from the App Hub to show how your application is performing in the Marketplace. Based on the feedback you receive, you can choose to deploy an updated version that contains bug fixes and new features to users. Your ultimate goal is to create a compelling application that you know consumers will use and publish to the Marketplace. The Marketplace will cost $99 annually, which will give you access to the Windows Phone Marketplace and the Xbox 360 Marketplace. In the Windows Phone Marketplace, you can submit an unlimited number of paid applications and you can submit five free applications. Additional submissions will cost $19.99. In the Xbox 360 Marketplace, you can submit up to ten games.

You will be able to observe any Marketplace activities through the report provided, like comments, ratings, and how many sold, so that you can effectively improve sales and marketing efforts.

When your application is bought by consumers, Microsoft will take 30% and you get to keep 70%. Also you get your money deposited directly to your bank, and your account will be activated to receive money only when you make your first sale of $200.

  •  Windows Phone Application Platform
  •  iPhone Application Development : Basic User Input and Output
  •  Mobile Phone Game Programming : A Quick J2ME Primer
  •  Mobile Phone Game Programming : Java As a Mobile Game Platform
  •  Mobile Phone Game Programming : Getting to Know Mobile Platforms
  •  Mobile Application Security : The Apple iPhone - Local Data Storage: Files, Permissions, and Encryption
  •  Mobile Application Security : The Apple iPhone - Permissions and User Controls
  •  iPhone Application Developmen : Using the View-Based Application Template (part 3)
  •  iPhone Application Developmen : Using the View-Based Application Template (part 2) - Preparing the View Controller Outlets and Actions
  •  iPhone Application Developmen : Using the View-Based Application Template (part 1)
  •  Mobile Application Security: Application Format
  •  Mobile Application Security: Security Testing
  •  Mobile Application Security: The Apple iPhone - Development
  •  Building Android Apps : Installing KiloGap in the Emulator
  •  Building Android Apps : Build KiloGap
  •  Building Android Apps: Create an Android Virtual Device
  •  Building Android Apps: Going Native - Setting Up the Environment
  •  Building Android Apps: Introduction to PhoneGap
  •  iPhone Application Development : How Xcode and Interface Builder Implement MVC
  •  iPhone Application Development : Understanding the Model-View-Controller Paradigm
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