Brandon Watson’s Quick Thinking / I Can Help You Find a WP7 Champ

Brandon watson

Good on Brandon Watson of the Windows Phone Team for seizing an opportunity offering free Windows Phone 7s to WebOS developers. I may occasionally complain that Microsoft has trouble trying unorthodox things or deviating from MBA-proscribed plans, but that’s rarely been the case with the Windows Phone 7 team and the Windows Phone 7 Champs (of which I was a proud member).

It looks as if Brandon’s quick thinking paid off: WPCentral reports that he’s received over 500 email responses.

He’s also fired off a quick email to greet people who responded to his offer. In the email, it includes email addresses for Windows Phone Champs in several countries. The problem is that one of the Champs listed for Canada is me, and I don’t work at Microsoft anymore.

If you’re a Canadian developer looking to get into Windows Phone 7 development, drop me a line at and I’ll connect you to the right people. I may not be in the Windows Phone Champ game, but I’m always happy to help developers out.


Fabulous Parting Gifts from Microsoft

In recognition of some damn good evangelizing, and to make sure I don’t forget about all the .NET developers out there, Microsoft Canada sent a big package to me at the Shopify offices containing some fabulous parting gifts, including a Dell Latitude E6500 with 8 gigs of RAM and the large battery:

My Dell Latitude E6500 laptop

…along with the Samsung Focus that was assigned to me, and DVDs for Windows 7 Ultimate and Office Professional 2010

Windows Phone 7 (Samsung Focus) box, Windows 7 Ultimate DVD, Microsoft Office 2010 Professional DVD

…and last but certainly not least, an MSDN subscription, which gets me all kinds of developer goodies including Visual Studio (still the nicest IDE out there, in my opinion):

MSDN logo

I’d like to thank Microsoft Canada (and Damir Bersinic, who made the arrangements) for these fabulous parting gifts. They weren’t under any obligation to send anything other than my final paycheque and expense reimbursements, but they’re taking a page from Gary Vaynerchuk’s The Thank You Economy, and I greatly appreciate the goodies. I was wondering how I was going to continue with Windows Phone and XNA development, but thanks to my old employer and coworker, that question’s been answered. I salute you with a filet mignon on a flaming sword!

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.


Windows Phone 7 Developer Guide from Microsoft Patterns and Practices

windows phone 7 developer guide

There’s a group at Microsoft called Patterns and Practices whose job is to provide developers with guidance and advice on the best ways to write software for our platforms. If you visit their site, you’ll find material to help you make better software design and technology selection decisions, understand important concepts that will help you get the job done and even get some “best practices” code to get you started.

If you’re developing for Windows Phone 7, you’ll want to check out Patterns and Practices’ Windows Phone 7 Developer Guide, which covers recommended ways to build WP7 apps with Silverlight and how to take advantage of of web- and cloud-based services. It’s the perfect follow-up to any of the “Intro to Windows Phone 7” books – Charles Petzold’s WP7 book is a good start, and it’s free, too – once you’ve got a handle on the basics, you’ll want to read it. It builds on a scenario in which Tailspin, a fictitious company building a WP7 client for an existing cloud-based application and covers building a mobile client, using services on the phone, connecting with services and interacting with Windows Marketplace.

Windows Phone 7 Developer Guide is available in a couple of forms:

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


“Developing for the Third Screen: Windows Phone 7” at Tomorrow’s Metro Toronto .NET Users Group Meeting

A Windows Phone 7 device, as seen held in Joey's hand, with High Park in the backgroundIf you’re around downtown Toronto tomorrow and want to get the latest on Windows Phone 7 development, come on down to the Metro Toronto .NET Users Group meeting tomorrow night and see Mark Arteaga’s presentation, Developing for the “Third Screen”: Windows Phone 7.

Here’s the abstract for tomorrow’s session:

Metro Toronto .NET Users Group logoFor the longest time Microsoft has been talking about their “Three Screens and the Cloud” strategy but did not really have a compelling mobile story. With the arrival of Windows Phone 7, the third screen has arrived and with that the new Windows Phone developer story has arrived. During this session you will get a high level overview of the platform plus go into some of the new APIs available for Windows Phone 7. We will cover the new application model, Windows Phone 7 specific services, sensors, multimedia plus more! Come and learn how to build for the third screen, build for Windows Phone 7.

I keep up with mobile development by continually working with iOS, Android and Windows Phone programming, and I find that WP7 development still provides the best developer experience as well as a user interface that’s clean, beautiful, usable and no mere “me too” copy but its own thing. If you develop mobile apps, you should be developing for Windows Phone 7, and tomorrow’s presentation is a great way to get started!

Here are tomorrow’s meeting’s details:

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Lifehacker’s List of the Best Windows Phone 7 Apps

lifehacker wp7 apps

In case you missed it over the holidays, here’s a pointer to Lifehacker’s list of the best Windows Phone 7 apps, which fall into a number of categories: productivity, internet/communication, location-aware/social networking, utilities, music/media and food/shopping/entertainment. There doesn’t seem to be a games category, but that’s okay – it gives me an excuse to review (and therefore, play) some!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Windows Phone 7’s Upcoming Updates

The first release of Windows Phone 7 was only the beginning. The team’s been listening to phone users and responding by working on improvements to our phone OS. You’re going to see the results of their work over the next few months in the form of updates, some of which are listed below:

  • Copy and PasteTwo women, one wearing a "Copy / ctrl + V" T-shirt, the other wearing a "Paste / ctrl + V" t-shirt
    This is one feature that users have been asking for, and it’s coming soon. You’ll be able to tap a word, slide your finger to highlight any additional text and then tap the Copy icon to copy your selection. You can then paste the copy by tapping the destination spot, then tapping the Paste icon.
  • Faster Launch and Resume Times
    Nobody likes to wait for an app to start (or restart after an interruption), and one of the soon-to-come improvements is shorter waits for app launch and resume.
  • Better Marketplace Search
    Search in Windows Phone’s Marketplace has been improved so that it’s easier to find the apps, games or music you’re looking for.

These updates, announced today on the Windows Phone 7 Updates page, will be easy to get. Your Windows Phone will notify you when they’re available (assuming you haven’t turned this feature off). You then use the Zune software (it’s free) to download and install the update to your phone.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Video Series: “Windows Phone 7 Development for Absolute Beginners”

WP7 Development for Absolute Beginners

If you’re new to software development and want to build apps for Windows Phone 7 – or if you know someone who fits this description – you should take a look at this 64-part series of short videos (none longer than a half-hour, most much shorter) titled Windows Phone 7 Development for Absolute Beginners.

When they put “Absolute Beginners” in the series’ name, they weren’t kidding. Over the series, host Bob Tabor from covers such basics as:

  • Installing, using and exploring Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone.
  • Writing applications from the ground up: from declaring variables and assigning values to them to if statements to writing your own classes to working with .NET’s collections to exception handling.
  • Taking advantage of Windows Phone features from Silverlight controls to isolated storage and tombstoning and task switching.

Phone app development is a great starting point for the beginning developer. Phone projects tend to be smaller by nature, making them perfect candidates for newbies or after-work “side projects”, and since mobile computing is all the rage these days, it’s more likely to keep a beginning developer interested enough to overcome the usual frustrations that go along with learning programming. I’ve tried out development on Windows Phone, iPhone and Android and find that Windows Phone is the fastest and easiest phone to develop for, and it’s a great environment for the budding developer. If you’re a budding developer who wants to get into the wild and wooly world of mobile or if you know one, Windows Phone 7 Development for Absolute Beginners is a great place to start!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.