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Microsoft Unveils First Windows Phone 7 Series Apps

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When Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 7 Series last month it greatly exceeded our wildest expectations, but it also raised one key question: what about the apps? Today Microsoft has addressed that at developer conference MIX10 with the unveiling of Windows Phone Marketplace for 7 Series and gave us a taste of some of the early apps.

So what did we learn? In a nutshell - despite the seemingly closed system of the new OS, apps will indeed be a key part. Like 7 Series they maintain the same panoramic swipe based layout as we saw from core OS services and this can be seen above with the first shots of the Associated Press news reader.

They will be built using both Microsoft Silverlight (that's one way to battle the Flash debate) with the XNA Framework for games and all developers will be given access to a handsets' accelerometer, GPS, hardware accelerated video, gesture controls and camera and microphone. Apps will also be available for trials, as well as free or purchase categories and in-app purchasing will feature.

Interestingly, Microsoft didn't really address the topic of multi-tasking, but did unveil a push notifications service similar to that on the iPhone. Whether this means there will be no multi-tasking (surely not, after all Windows Mobile has always been able to do this) is another question entirely, but it seems it will be much more closely regulated and kept to a minimum to preserve performance and battery life.

Early entries are promising with 3D shooter 'The Harvest' (shown in portrait) looking particularly impressive with destructible scenery and tying all progress and achievements directly to Xbox Live. Elsewhere Shazam showed off its ubiquitous music ID service and Seesmic demoed an early port of its Twitter client. Microsoft also announced its initial group of 7 Series partners including *deep breath*:

AWS Convergence Technologies ? WeatherBug, Citrix Systems Inc., Clarity Consulting Inc., Cypress Consulting, EA Mobile, Fandango Inc., Foursquare Labs Inc., frog design inc., Glu Mobile Inc., Graphic.ly, Hudson Entertainment Inc., IdentityMine Inc., IMDb.com Inc., Larva Labs, Match.com LLC, Matchbox Mobile Ltd., Microsoft Game Studios, Namco Networks America Inc., Oberon Media Inc., Pageonce Inc., Pandora Media Inc., Photobucket Inc., PopCap Games Inc., Seesmic, Shazam Entertainment Ltd., Sling Media, SPB Software Inc., stimulant, TeleCommunications Systems Inc., Touchality LLC and Vertigo Software Inc

That's a decent list and while we'd like to see some country specific partners (travel-based, for example) they are unlikely to be announced at this stage. Then again all developers keen to take a look at the platform can jump in now since Microsoft has made the first release candidate for Silverlight 4 available today along with Express Blend 4 Beta so coding work can begin.

All in all, we still have a lot of questions about Windows Phone 7 Series (not least some specifics on multi-tasking and why it has such a silly name), but with the OS not due until late Q3/early Q4 the basics are shaping up nicely...

Update: 2817 2361377 00.asp PCMag reports Microsoft has now confirmed multi-tasking won't be supported initially with windows Phone developer strategy head Charlie Kindel saying:

"Apps that run arbitrarily in the background create an end user experience where battery life and responsiveness of the system becomes … inconsistent. We focused on getting a set of experiences right where we didn't have to support {multitasking,} but we will over time."

Kindel also confirmed expandable storage will be forbidden on Windows Phone 7 Series handsets so there will be no microSD slots - unless they are locked into the phone. This will simplify things (a user knows exactly what they have available), but it seems a strange rule to enforce. I know Microsoft is keen to make the hardware experience on Windows Phone more consistent, but soon manufacturers will have virtually no way of distinguishing their handsets at all!

Link:
Press Release

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