Windows Phone 7 Launch Today

Windows Phone 7 Launch

It’s Canadian Thanksgiving today, which means it’s a day off here, but it’s a regular working day for our American neighbours, and it’s the day that a lot of big announcements about Windows Phone 7 get made at an event in New York City.

As Mary Jo Foley points out in her article on today’s event, today is about announcements and not about phones hitting shelves, but the day when you can go buy a WP7 phone isn’t far off. You’ll find out more about the phone today starting at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, and I believe a lot of your questions will be answered. (And if you have questions, you can always ask us, either here on the blog or in person at the various TechDays, Coffee and Codes or other opportunities to have a face-to-face chat with us.)

I think you’ll find that Windows Phone represents a tremendous opportunity for phone app developers and designers. Consider that:

  • Gorgeous design. In starting from the ground up and redesigning what it means to be a Microsoft Phone, the WP7 team came up with a design that isn’t just “me too”. Even Jon Gruber, the ultimate fanboy for the Esteemed Competition, says it’s really nice.
  • It’s early in the game. The phone app market for WP7 is a new one, and it’s your chance to make your mark and shape the app market with your ideas, designs and coding skills.
  • You’re working with great developer tools. Even the most die-hard fanboys of the Esteemed Competition grudgingly acknowledge that Visual Studio is a great IDE. Combined with Expression Blend, you’ve got a killer combo for developing, designing and debugging phone apps.
  • It’s not just great developer tools, but great frameworks. First, there’s the .NET framework, which gives you a big library with loads of built-in functionality. Then there’s the fact that you have not just one, but two app frameworks! You have Silverlight, for more “application”-like app development with controls and an event-driven model, and XNA for game development with its game loop programming model.
  • Windows Phone Marketplace. It’s your chance to directly sell apps to customers, and it’s straightforward. The rules for submitting apps and what is and isn’t an acceptable app are spelled out clearly. If your app isn’t accepted, you’ll know why. Telling this stuff to app developers is such a crazy idea that it might catch on!
  • Here’s something that we need to point out: You are important. As developers, you shouldn’t feel like pseudo-competitors who are barely tolerated by the people behind the phone platform. You should feel like a key part of Windows Phone 7, because you are! WP7 doesn’t happen without you. Your creativity, hard work and passion as app developers is as much a feature as anything else that goes into WP7. What you do is our best feature!

Keep an eye on the announcements coming out today, and if you have any questions, ask away in the comments!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Get Your Windows Phone 7 Apps Ready for Marketplace!

My laptop computer connected via USB to my Windows Phone 7 device, running "Kick-Ass App!"

Hey, Canadian mobile developers:

  • If you’ve got an idea for a Windows Phone 7 app, whether it’s brand new or a port of an existing mobile app, start working on it now!
  • If you’re working on a Windows Phone 7 app, get it ready for Marketplace, which will be accepting submissions soon!
  • If you haven’t even tried the Windows Phone 7 developer tools, download them and take them for a spin!

And finally, if you’re planning on submitting a Windows Phone 7 app to Marketplace, get in touch with me! I want to hear from you, help you through the process and help publicize your app. Just drop me a line – the email address is

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


A Scene from Today’s Windows Phone 7 Coffee and Code

My LG Windows Phone 7, with "Smiles" displayed on the screen.A test version of Smiles running on my WP7 device.

In between chatting with developers who dropped by today’s Coffee and Code in downtown Toronto and getting some work done, I’ve been playing Smiles (pictured above), an incredibly cute and incredibly addictive puzzle game by London, ON-based development shop Sykhronics.

Here’s a video of Smiles’ gameplay in its “Drop” mode:

Mike Kasprzak of Sykhronics was kind enough to send me an early test version of Smiles to show off the Phone’s game capabilities as well as the level of “polish” that Windows Phone 7 developers should be aiming for in their apps. Mike’s got some pretty high standards and is working to make sure that Smiles for WP7 meets them, and it shows! Even in this test version, Smiles looks and feels like a polished arcade classic, and when it’s done, it’s going to be a must-buy.

Keep writing those apps, and aim high! We’ll do what we can on our end to help out, which includes:

  • Articles on Windows Phone 7 development in Silverlight and XNA
  • Articles on good mobile user interface design and marketing your apps
  • Announcements of upcoming Coffee and Codes and WP7 Deployment Clinics across Canada
  • Coverage of “Phone Heroes”: People building apps for Windows Phone 7 – and hey, you could be one of them!
  • Pointers to useful tools, resources and other things to help you build WP7 apps

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


“BieberSmash” at Tonight’s Canada’s Technology Triangle .NET User Group Meeting

bieberTonight, I’ll be in Kitchener speaking at the Canada’s Technology Triangle .NET User Group Meeting, where I’ll be talking about game programming on Windows Phone using XNA.

Assisting me – albeit indirectly – will be Justin Bieber, in sprite form. Starting from the humble “File –> New”, I’ll code up some simple 2D gaming fun where we’ll learn about XNA and 2D game development basics and play with pop’s most annoying star in the process!

Some details about the event:

  • Where: Manulife Financial (25 Water St. South, Kitchener)
  • Day: Wednesday September 29th, 2010
  • Time: 6:00pm-8:30pm
  • Note: Please Register for the Event as we order Pizza and Pop based on Registration as of 12pm (Noon) on the day of the Event.

Photo of Justin Bieber courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Montreal Coffee and Code Today!

Coffee and Code: Cup of coffee and a milk server on a wooden table

Today, Wednesday, September 29th, join “les bons gars”, Developer Advisor Christian Beauclair and Regional Director Guy Barrette, who’ll be holding a Coffee and Code at Le Café de la Cité on 75 Queen. They put on a professional appearance, but we all know qu’ils vont ecrire des «fart apps»! They’ll be doing it in both official languages: Silverlight and XNA!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Windows Phone 7 Hands-On Lab in Ottawa: Saturday, October 2nd

Windows Phone Hands-on lab: photo of hands on a computer keyboard

If you’ve been meaning to take up Windows Phone 7 development but didn’t know where or how to get started and you’re in the Ottawa area, this event is for you! Join Microsoft Developer Advisor Christian Beauclair and DreamDigital’s Colin Melia as they present a hands-on lab this Saturday where they show you how to write apps for our new phone.

At this lab, you’ll:

  • Learn how to develop apps for Windows Phone 7 in Silverlight and XNA
  • Follow along at a workstation as Christian and Colin walk you through WP7 development
  • Get familiar with the software tools: Visual Studio 2010 or Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone, Expression Blend and the WP7 emulator
  • Have an opportunity to try out a real live Windows Phone

This training lab will take place at Algonquin College (1385 Woodroffe Avenue, Ottawa). It’s free of charge, but you must register in order to be able to attend.

This is a hands-on lab, so space is limited – if you want to attend, register now!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Visual Basic for Windows Phone!

"Surprise!" Rick Claus reels back in amazement from the flame-burst of a teppanyaki onion volcano

It Makes Sense…

It makes sense, after all:

  • You can develop Silverlight applications in Visual Basic.
  • You can developer Windows Phone 7 apps in Silverlight.
  • Why can’t you develop Windows Phone 7 Silverlight apps in Visual Basic?

That’s the question a number of developers have been asking, as Brandon Watson’s earlier tweet hinted:

Brandon Watson's tweet: "Anyone care to guess what the biggest request from the #wp7dev community has been for the #wp7 dev tools and platform?

Here’s What You Get

And we’re now one step closer to that becoming real. Today on the Windows Phone Developer Blog, Brandon announced the availability of Visual Basic CTP (that’s “Community Technology Preview”) for Windows Phone Developer Tools.

With it, you get:

  • Visual Basic application templates for Windows Phone 7 Silverlight apps
  • UI designer support for Visual Basic
  • Emulator and phone support for Visual Basic
  • and of course, Intellisense support for Visual Basic

In short, everything the Visual Basic developer needs to start writing Silverlight apps for WP7.

And Now, the Fine Print

"Warning" icon

Remember, unlike the C# tools, which have been Released to Manufacturing, Visual Basic for Windows Phone is CTP, and remember that the “P” stands for “Preview” and that CTP comes before Beta.

Be advised that:

  • As a Community Technology Preview, this is an early access program to a work in progress. It’s meant for you to try out and give us feedback about it. It is not a final implementation, and as such, you should expect to use it to write apps that are ready for Marketplace.
  • There’s no go-live license for this CTP. That means you can’t use this particular version to build apps for commercial release. It’s not ready for prime time yet!
  • You need Visual Studio 2010 Pro, Premium or Ultimate. Sorry, but Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone isn’t going to work with this version. If you’re really itching to try writing VB apps for WP7, Brandon suggests downloading a trial version of Visual Studio Pro.
  • Visual Basic for Windows Phone is for writing Silverlight apps only. If you want to write XNA-based games and apps, you have to do it in C#.

Why Visual Basic?

Cover of Rodney Dangerfield's "No Respect" albumVisual Basic takes a lot of heat from developers, both within and outside the Microsoft developer community. Perhaps it’s because it’s derived from BASIC, back when the name was an acronym and the “B” stood for Beginner’s. It could also be that there is a history of some really atrocious code being written in VB. I think it’s because it brought the power of programming to everyone, which annoys people who are deeply invested in keeping programming a sort of “high priesthood”, a club where not everyone can be a member.

That’s snobbery, and it’s also a shame. One of the purposes of languages like Visual Basic is that it opened the world of programming to “domain experts” – people who know the ins and outs of the fields or businesses for which applications are written. People who’ll actually have to use those applications. Languages like Visual Basic empower these people who have the domain knowledge take their ideas and turn them into apps without having to always “outsource” it to one of us. They capture the best parts of the “DIY” spirit, and we should be encouraging the people who use them, not denigrating them for using a “toy”.

I think of this as the antithesis of programming for the Esteemed Competition’s mobile platforms, whether you’ve opted for the wide open but fragmented one, or the more closed one where you have to chase pointers, write method declarations twice and are a barely-tolerated “fourth party developer”. Phone development with Visual Basic makes it easy for anyone with an idea and the will to work – but not the programming background – to dive in and start seeing results quickly.

I think that’s a good thing.

Download Visual Basic CTP for Windows Phone

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.