Microsoft has released a beta version of its Windows Phone Developer Tools, allowing developers to build applications for upcoming Windows Phone 7 devices as the company continues to compete with rival mobile operating systems.
The Windows Phone 7 API has nearly been completed and push notifications, accelerometer and app bar APIs have all been updated, said Windows Phone 7 director Brandon Watson on the Windows Phone Developer Blog.
The Expression Blend user interface design tool has been integrated into the developer tools beta, while additional controls including the Panorama and Pivot features which did not make the beta release will be available in the coming weeks.
"This is a big milestone for everyone involved in Windows Phone 7 inside and outside Microsoft, and we hope you share our excitement. With the beta release of the tools, developers can build apps with a 'ship it' mentality," wrote Watson.
"Since the Community Technology Preview in March, the tools have been widely embraced by the development community. There have already been so many amazing apps shown running on the emulators, and we're blown away by the early apps."
Microsoft promised to provide pre-production preview devices to developers this month, and said that devices will start shipping on 19 July. It is still possible to register for a device by sending an email to [email protected]
"Sadly, we will not be able to meet all of that demand and are planning to set up deployment and test labs in major cities to make it a little easier for everyone who wants to have access to a preview phone," Watson said.
Microsoft is also running Windows Phone 7 Jump Start, a free virtual live class for developers interested in creating applications and games for Windows Phone 7 handsets.
This is an expected move by Microsoft as it tries to keep the momentum leading up to the release of Windows Phone 7 alive, explained Pete Cunningham, senior analyst at Canalys.
“There is a lot of competition to attract developers and Microsoft has seen the Windows Mobile market share slip,” he said. “It will take hard work, over time before Microsoft competes with the other manufacturers.”
Google turned up the heat further yesterday with the launch of the App Inventor for Android which will allow novice users, not just developers, to create apps.
However, the new tool is likely to appeal to only a small percentage of the market, Cunningham argued.
“It will attract tech savvy people who buy smartphones regularly and could be a good proposition for small businesses such as restaurant and estate agents to create their own apps,” he said.
“Other vendors are unlikely to be rushing such tools unless this really takes off.”
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