Microsoft updates portal for Windows Phone 7 developers

Starting gun for Mango app submission set for August

Microsoft announced today a revamped developer portal for Windows Phone 7 developers. And they'll be able to start submitting their new WP7 Mango applications for review in August.

The App Hub portal Hub http://create.msdn.com/en-US/ lets developers manage their account, change settings, submit apps and stay current with Windows Phone. Mango is the first major update for the Windows Phone 7 operating system, and is being released this fall. It's widely expected that handset partners including Nokia, Samsung and others will announce a new crop of handsets to run it at the same time.

The hub update mainly expands services and tools to developers in new markets, but also gives them app distribution options and improved management of their account and their apps, according to a blog post by Microsoft's Todd Blix.

[See also: "Developers find a lot to love in Windows Phone 7 Mango"]

Apps can now be distributed privately with two options. First, a "beta distribution" that lets developers grant access by up to 100 beta testers to pre-certified applications, for up to 90 days. The idea is to give developers controlled feedback from actual users, and tweak the apps before finally publishing them in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Second, is "targeted distribution," which lets developers hide or cloak their applications in the Marketplace. Only targeted users can access these hidden apps, via a "deep-link" delivered to them via email, text message or other format. There's not limit to the number of users, and you can change it to a publicly available app at any time.

Several new features are aimed at letting developers better manage published apps. For example, "Edit catalog details" now lets you change the app's metadata without have to submit your app for re-certification on the Marketplace. A redesigned dashboard gives developers a single location to see a variety of app performance metrics, payout status, ratings and reviews and so on.

Also new: more detailed reports, which can be exported in Excel spreadsheet-compatible format; and "Crash Count," a new report that lets you retrieve data on crash counts and stack races for each app, for faster debugging of your code.

Developers will be able to submit Mango apps to App Hub in the latter half of August apparently. To finalize those apps, they'll have to use the  Windows Phone Release Candidate (RC) tools, which Microsoft plans to release in late August. While waiting, download the free ‘Windows Phone SDK 7.1 Beta 2’.

Related blogposts: "Why Windows Phone 7 'Mango' is Bango"

Related news stories:  "6 changes in Windows Phone Mango target business users"

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