Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Whirlwind Overview of Windows Phone 7 Series

Microsoft will be coming out with a new phone to compete with the iPhone called the Windows Phone 7 series (WP7). It is slated for release for holidays 2010 (the word on the street is September 2010). A lot of people are calling it iPhone V2 since there are similarities: no application background processes are allowed, each application is sand boxed as to not interfere with other applications, and the rich graphical interface. The goals for the phone are to have a predictable, safe, high performing phone with long battery life.

  • Microsoft's better competitor to the iPod, Zune is built in.
  • XBox live integration.
  • You can play XBox XNA games on Windows Phone 7.
  • Windows Mobile Marketplace built in. From what I have seen, the search and categorization is better than the iPhone marketplace. You will be able to buy applications, games, music and videos.
  • Office 2010 Mobile
  • People Hub
  • Pictures Hub
  • Music and Video Hub
  • Accelerometer
  • GPS
  • Camera

Metro User Interface Design
WP7 is better than iPhone when it comes to user interface design. The design language is called Metro which takes cues from transportation icons. The start menu has tiles on it which takes you to hubs. Everything is organized into related areas. For example the music hub will not only show you the artist biography when you click on a song, it will use the phone location to determine where the artist is playing next. Another cool thing about the Metro design are the panoramic views where the phone views a portion of the area of an application. It makes the phone experience seem larger than life. Metro makes the design language of the iPhone seem as antiquated as a Mac classic.

Target Market
The target market for Windows Phone 7 is what Microsoft calls the life maximizer; someone that has a busy professional life and a busy home life. The example couple that they use is a man that has his own architectural small business and a mom that works part time. The initial goal is more of a consumer focus than business focus, helping a busy end user rather than solving business problems.

Standard Hardware

One of the pains of developing for any phone is the wide variety of processors, memory, screen sizes and touch support. Microsoft has solved this problem by having base hardware requirements and only two screen sizes. Here are the current Windows Phone 7 Hardware requirements:

Capacitive touch with 4 or more contact points
WVGA (800×480) or HVGA (480×320) resolution

A-GPS, Accelerometer, Compass, Light, Proximity

5 megapixels or more, flash required, camera button required

Common detailed specs, Codec Acceleration

256 MB RAM or more, 8 GB Flash or more

DirectX 9 acceleration

ARMv7 Cortex/Scorpion or better

What do you need to develop Windows Phone 7 Applications?
All the tools to develop WP7 applications are free. There are two ways to develop applications on the phone, with Silverlight 3 and XNA (for games). Expression Blend 4 is used to create the cool animations for the phone such as rotating, zooming, and panning. When you install the tools it will install Visual Studio 2010 express. If you already have Visual Studio 2010 installed, it will install the Windows Phone 7 tools as an add on. Creating pages in Silverlight 3 is much like creating pages for web applications. The design language used is not HTML but XAML. The code behind portion of Silverlight is currently limited to C#. Other .NET languages such as VB.NET will be added later.

How do you sell your Windows Phone 7 Applications?
In order to sell your Windows Phone 7 applications you must first register on the marketplace. The fee is $99 per year. To submit an application to the market place (free or commercial) is $99/each. This fee helps pay for the certification of your application. Your application is verified that it does not try to break out of the sandbox, that it performs well, and it the content complies complies with any applicable laws for the countries you select to distribute your application.

Limitations of Windows Phone 7
  • Each application is sandboxed and has it's own separate isolated storage. This storage is limited to 2GB. No other application can get to this storage.
  • No ActiveSync. If you want to synchronize data you must first upload it from your application to a web server and then download from the web server on to your corresponding desktop application. There is no standard mechanism, you must create custom code to do this.
  • No background processes. This is part of the Windows Phone goal of having long battery life. No more stupid twitter apps that make your battery last an hour.
  • No socket namespace. That means no FTP in the initial release.
  • No subscription/continuity model in the Windows Phone Marketplace.
  • No SQL Server compact edition for the initial release. There are several open source and commercial vendors alternatives.
Videos on how to do Windows Phone 7 Development
Mix 2010 Videos
Windows Phone 7 in 7
Behind the emulator
Silverlight for Windows Phone 7
Windows Phone 7 Training Kit

Free Developer tools for Windows Phone 7
Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools
Expression Blend 4
Expression Blend 4 Windows Phone
Expression Blend 4 SDK

Here is a great Windows Phone 7 FAQ
Windows Phone 7 FAQ

Windows Phone 7 End User



Developer Portal

Windows Phone 7 Forum

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually $99 Marketplace fee gives you a credit of 5 apps at the moment.