Microsoft's MIX10 conference for web professionals made the news this week with the software giant disclosing more details on its new Windows Phone 7 platform, unveiling a release candidate for the Silverlight 4 web application framework, and delivering an early preview of web technologies coming in Internet Explorer 9.
During the conference keynote, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Windows Phone, Joe Belfiore, detailed how developers will be able to code for Windows Phone 7 handsets using Silverlight for rich applications and the XNA Framework for multimedia and games.
Among the tools announced at the event was Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone, a Windows Phone 7 Series add-in to use with Visual Studio 2010, plus an emulator for application testing.
According to Belfiore, this will enable developers to quickly and easily deliver compelling applications and games.
"With the best developer tools, an established ecosystem and marketplace, and a path for developers to use their Silverlight and XNA Framework skill sets, we are delivering an application platform that is simple, powerful and inspiring," he said.
On the downside, Microsoft had further disappointments for those hoping that Windows Phone 7 would build on the strengths of earlier Windows Mobile releases while correcting some of the flaws.
Instead, it has become clear that Windows Phone 7 is a reset of Microsoft's mobile strategy, which ditches much of what came before in order to offer developers a new consumer-focused platform.
Following the news that Windows Phone 7 will not be compatible with existing Windows Mobile applications, Microsoft disclosed at MIX that the platform will not support multi-tasking, except for functions that are part of the platform itself, and the initial release will not support cut and paste, even in the Office hub applications.
This lends credence to those critics who believe Microsoft is trying too hard to mimic Apple's success with the iPhone, which had similar drawbacks in early versions of the handset and drew much flak because of this.
"It's almost like they've re-created the original iPhone," said Ovum analyst Tony Cripps.
However, he added that a rebuild from the ground up is what Microsoft needed to do if it wants to stay in the smartphone market.
"There is a lot of clunky legacy stuff in Windows Mobile and this was the only way of getting round it," Cripps said.
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