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Microsoft Unveils First Windows Phone 7 Series Apps

Gordon Kelly


Updated: Microsoft Unveils First Windows Phone 7 Series Apps

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!


Press Release


March 16, 2010, 1:03 pm

I can't believe it, 2 products in one week that microsoft have me excited about, this and the courier!


March 16, 2010, 2:13 pm

3 years from now: "And this is how Silverlight came to replace Flash on the internet."


March 16, 2010, 4:54 pm

As much as I am liking what Microsoft are doing with Windows Phone 7, is this really what 2010 is going to be like? Frequent "announcements" from Microsoft in an attempt to build the same kind of anticipation as Apple?

Microsoft should focus more on getting Windows 7 out ASAP (i.e. June/July) so that the excitement that is around now hasnt stagnated by the time you can actually buy the phone, and then outline where they are heading with the product. Look at Palm, they were making a huge song and dance about the Pre for a long time, and to begin with the excitement about it was at fever pitch, but they took too long and by the time it came out no-one really cared anymore

Microsoft! Announce a release date that is soon, make it a worldwide release (not just the US with the rest of the world as an afterthought and DONT HAVE AN EXCLUSIVE WITH ONLY ONE NETWORK! Having the Pre only with O2 (at the same price point as the iPhone) was the final nail in its coffin in the UK...


March 16, 2010, 5:22 pm

@Stelph - don't think that's fair. Third party apps are arguably the most important part of a modern smartphone OS these days and Microsoft needed to address this for 7 Series. I'd also argue the relative failure of the Pre is down to Web OS not getting enough third party app developer support - which rather proves my point.


March 16, 2010, 6:02 pm

no expandable storage at all? WTF? That's one of the biggest criticisms of the iPhone and the best thing about practically ALL other handsets! They seem to be losing the plot gradually with this thing! Just because Apple does it, doesn't mean that Microsoft does it! If they have such a lockdown on the hardware specs, then as you say that means there's no manufacturer variability, but it also means no innovation, such as Snapdragon vs OMAP, increased ROM/RAM etc!

Then again, I can't complain too much, am very happy with my N900


March 16, 2010, 6:09 pm

Actually I see on The Register that Flash will be available on Windows Phone 7 as a native application. As opposed to all other third party apps which will be 'managed code' (i.e. run under a VM) like Android's Java apps, although at least Android also supports a native development kit. Surprised there isn't more whinging about how Microsoft seem to be aping Apple's closed approach?



March 16, 2010, 8:35 pm

No multi-tasking? I don't believe this. WinMo 5 supported multitasking without destroying the user experience, for heaven's sake. Because everybody has to be like Apple the industry's going backwards? What next, Microsoft? Removing the ability to cut-and-paste, send attachments, or save stuff from the web? Forcing us to sync each app separately over bluetooth? *shakes head in disbelief*


March 16, 2010, 9:22 pm

I'm not sure I'm seeing the rationale for killing expandable storage? I suppose it's security, but even if that were true, why not put a few gig of secure storage on the phone and supply a MicroSD slot to give the user the option of expanding the insecure media storage? Best of both worlds.

All these restrictions are starting to reek of Apple, which probably has the WinMo community up in arms.

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