MIX10 Day 1: Windows Phone developer tools now available.

Leverage existing Microsoft tools, development expertise

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The opening keynote at Microsoft’s MIX10 Web developers conference focused largely on the capabilities and tools for Windows Phone 7. Microsoft announced the immediate release of free phone [versions of its core development tools.Developers can now download to a Windows PC Visual Studio 2010, about-to-be-released Silverlight 4 multimedia toolkit, and the just-announced beta release of Expression Blend 4, a GUI-oriented design and code-generating toolkit. All come with an emulator running the full Windows Phone 7 operating system, so developers don’t have to wait for the first hardware devices, which could first appear in October 2010.Underlining the importance of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft has immediately making available its latest, most advanced developer tools for its redesigned mobile OS. Developers with existing experience with Microsoft’s PC tools can at once be productive in shifting applications to the phone or building brand new ones, including games with the new XNA Game Studio 4. Microsoft executives recited the mantra that developers can build an application once and then run it, with some minor adjustments for resolution and other features. But many questions were left unanswered in the keynote, including how Microsoft will structure the details of its online Windows Phone marketplace, where developers can publish and sell their applications. And exactly how developers can integrate their applications with the WP7 hubs, which are visual locations on the user interface where like content is grouped, such as photos or music, and common tasks and features are enabled. Such integration is possible, demonstrated by a number of new third party applications demonstrated on stage. One is Associated Press Mobile, a news reader for the AP Website. The demonstration showed the application behaving like any other WP7 program. It shows top news stories, associated with photos, with options to share and comment. A “breaking news” popup at the bottom of the screen indicated the notifications capability of the redesigned OS: depending on the application, users can configure a range of notifications, which are sent whether the phone is one or not. Microsoft officials laid heavy stress on the role Silverlight 4 will play on WP7 devices. Working with a group of handset makers, Microsoft created a hardware specification for WP7 phones. That includes the graphics horsepower, which Silverlight exploits, to create smooth, fluid UI features, without any compromise. “This is full Silverlight,” said Scott Guthrie, corporate VP, Microsoft’s developer division. “It’s the same code, the same tools, and the same programming model on the phone.”Coupled with Bing Maps, Silverlight can be used to embed interactive maps associated with a link in a tweet, for example: the interactive map pops up, you can pan and zoom, and see where your contacts are nearby, and even get directions to them, as demonstrated onstage by Seesmic http://seesmic.com/, an application for managing Twitter accounts and streams. Seesmic had been available only for Android and BlackBerry phones but has now been ported to Windows Phone 7.

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