Latest Windows Phone 7 tools let coders ready Mango apps

Handset makers, carriers now testing near-final Microsoft code

Microsoft has released the latest beta version of the Windows Phone 7 Mango development tools and OS build to developers. They can now start final preparations for submitting the first batch of Mango apps for certification in August. Carriers and handset makers are already testing near-final code for new phones due this fall.

Windows Phone 7 developers can now start finalizing apps for the upcoming Mango version of the operating system due this fall. Microsoft this week released a "refresh" of the Beta 2 Windows Phone Software Development Kit.

Using Windows Phone SDK 7.1 "Beta 2 Refresh," developers now can start finalizing Mango applications, which will be accepted for evaluation and certification in the Windows Phone Market sometime in August. The refresh comes just a day after Microsoft announced it has shipped a somewhat different version of Mango to its handset and carrier partners for testing.

The final production version of Mango will be released officially sometime this fall. A number of handset makers, including Nokia, are expected to announce brand new handsets built with Mango's many improvements in mind.

BACKGROUND: Most popular Windows Phone 7 apps

The Windows Phone Beta 2 Refresh includes the latest release of the development tools, including emulator, debugger and so on, along with Build 7712 of the OS itself. This build lags somewhat the actual code sent to the phone makers and carriers.

"[W]hat we are providing is a genuine release candidate build, with enough code checked and APIs locked down that this OS is close enough to RTM that, as a developer, it's more than capable to see you through the upcoming RC [release candidate] drop of the tools and app submission," writes Microsoft's Cliff Simpkins in an official blog post. "It's important to remember that until the phone and mobile operator portion of Mango is complete, you're still using a pre-release on your retail phone -- no matter the MS [Microsoft] build."

Simpkins says the tools will keep being refined and finished over the coming weeks, including dealing with "known issues" and improving the emulator and profiler. With the Beta 2 Refresh, "what you have here is a build in the early part of our Release Candidate cycle -- the end result of which should be in your hands in the coming month."

Among the main changes in the Refresh are: APIs have been locked; emulator includes a built-in screenshot capability; improved profiler with memory profiling; support for NuGet, a Visual Studio extension that makes it easy to install and update open source libraries and tools in Visual Studio; a first peek at the Marketplace Test Kit.

New Mango-based phones are expected in September or October from Samsung, HTC, possibly Nokia and several others, according to Internet speculation.

One from Samsung, which some think is similar to the successful Galaxy S model, was briefly demonstrated at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference earlier this month. Microsoft has yet to publicly release the hardware specifications for Mango phones, but industry watchers expect larger screens, thinner casings and possibly dual-core CPUs.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.



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