Windows Phones in Canada

Want to know what Windows Phone 7 devices are being offered by Canadian telcos? I’ve got the list below:


telus wp7 phones

Telus offers two Windows Phones:

  • HTC 7 Surround. This is the one with the slide-out Dolby Surround speakers and a little kickstand so you can use it as a mini video player. The speakers are surprisingly loud and clear and our coworker Anthony “The Mobile Situation” Bartolo used them to great effect at TechDays this year, annoying us with the Jersey Shore soundtrack.
  • LG Optimus 7. This one’s for people with DLNA-equipped TVs (or in a pinch, a TV with an Xbox hooked up to it) – you can use DLNA to send the pictures and videos on your phone to a nice large screen. It’s great for presentations, vacations slides or even movie-watching.


bell wp7 phone

There are a number of people who refuse to use on-screen virtual keyboards and like the reassuring feel of a button’s “throw”. If you’re one of these people, Bell’s LG Optimus Quantum is the Windows Phone for you, with a slide-out keyboard. I’ve taken it out for a test drive at the store and it feels pretty nice.


rogers wp7 phone

I’m on Rogers (as are all Microsoft employees in Ontario – the company pays for our phones and plans), and their Windows Phone is the Samsung Focus. It’s sexy, skinny, much lighter than you’d expect for a device with this kind of horsepower and it sports a bright, crisp 4” Super AMOLED screen, just like the one on the Galaxy S. I end up doing a lot of impromptu demos with this phone, and everyone walks away impressed.


expansys site

If you’re in the market for an unlocked WP7 phone, or perhaps a WP7 phone that the Canadian telcos aren’t carrying, Expansys are the go-to people. If you’ve been to one of the big Microsoft conferences in the US – PDC, TechEd North America and so on – you’ve probably seen their booth. They’re the go-to guys for all sorts of mobile devices, including the hard-to-get ones.

They have a Canadian site,, and they’ve got a very extensive selection of Windows Phone 7 devices. Better still, their service is great. When I screwed up my last order and accidentally ordered the European version of a phone that wouldn’t be compatible with HSPA+ over here, a quick email to their service was all it took for them to fix the problem and let me know it was fixed. I salute them with a filet mignon on a flaming sword!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


New Book: Windows Phone 7 Game Development

Cover of "Windows Phone 7 Game Development"

This book’s so new that I’m not sure the dead-tree version is available yet: it’s Windows Phone 7 Game Development, published by Apress and written by Adam Dawes. I’ve just purchased the ebook version (which you can download right away for USD$34.99), so I’ve only had a chance to do a quick skim.

According to Apress’ site, here’s what you’ll learn from Windows Phone 7 Game Development:

  • How to get started with Windows Phone 7 development, from setting up the IDE to debugging techniques.
  • Develop using the free or full versions of Visual Studio 2010.
  • Master high performance 2D and 3D graphics using the XNA development environment.
  • Build 2D games using Silverlight and also learn how to publish them to the web.
  • Find out the best ways to control your games, including using touch screens, keyboards and accelerometers.
  • Produce high quality music and sound effects from your games.
  • Masses of example code and working projects, including two example games, "Cosmic Rocks" and "Diamond Lines."
  • All you need to release your games to the world for fun or to sell.

It looks like a worthy partner to Beginning Windows Phone 7 Development.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Apress’ “Beginning Windows Phone 7 Development” [Updated]

beginning windows phone 7 development

I’ve been flipping through Apress’ new book, Beginning Windows Phone 7 Development, and I’ve been impressed so far. As with most books on developing for any given platform, the first couple of chapters are introductory and have the mandatory “Get the Tools” and “Let’s Write a Hello World Program” sections, but the book veers from the standard trajectory in chapter 3 by diving right into the use of the cloud for data storage for your app.

That’s where we get into the serious stuff: the MVVM design pattern, setting up a SQL Azure account and database, creating a cloud service to access that cloud database, building a WCF service to access the data, and then building a Windows Phone app – a notepad application – that accesses that database. By the end of the chapter – and remember, this is chapter three and less than a hundred pages in – you’ve got a cloud-enabled phone app that you can use as the basis for your own. That’s no small feat, and it’s a testament to the tools and technologies available to Windows Phone 7 developers.

Update (Friday, Dec. 17, 2010): Author Henry Lee let us know in the comments that there’s an update to chapter 3 to cover recent changes to Azure’s UI.

I’m still working my way through Beginning Windows Phone 7 Development, but from what I’ve seen so far and from casual scans ahead, I would recommend it for the developer who’s comfortable with C# and .NET and is ready to pick up a lot of new things quickly.

If you’d like to get this book as quickly as possible, I’d recommend the ebook version. It’s also the cheapest, at USD$27.99. Better still, if you buy before midnight of December 31st, you can save 25% by using the promotional code APRESSHOLIDAY2010, knocking the price down to a mere USD$21 (which as of this writing, is a Rush-inspired CDN$21.12).

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Visual Basic on Windows Phone: From CTP to RTW to OMFG

vb mug

VB for WP7 went RTW? OMFG!

Back in September, I wrote about the release of the CTP (Community Technology Preview) of Visual Basic for Silverlight development on Windows Phone. As a CTP, it was early access to a work in progress, there was no “go-live” license (meaning any apps you wrote in VB couldn’t be for commercial release) and there was no guarantee that it would become a released product.

All that changed a couple of days ago when VB for WP7 went RTW (Release To World). It’s an actual thing now: you can write Silverlight apps for Windows Phone and you can sell them in Marketplace. We’ve also updated our Windows Phone example code to include VB examples. With VB (Visual Basic) for WP7 (Windows Phone 7), one of the MRF (Most Requested Features) has been implemented. Cue a lot of developers saying “OMFG!”

(In case you were wondering, the “F” is for “Phone”.)

Get VB for WP7 Developer Tools

You can download the Visual Basic for Windows Phone Developer Tools RTW right now. There are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • 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 and only have the Express version of Visual Studio, we suggest 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#.

Start Building Apps in VB

tip calculator

Once you’ve installed Visual Basic for Windows Phone Developer Tools, go to Jason Zander’s blog, where he walks through the process of building a tip calculator app in Visual Basic. He’s also posted the complete solution online so you can download it, check out the code, tinker with it and learn from it. Remember the motto: Don’t learn to build, build to learn!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Windows Phone Developer Briefings in Ottawa, Calgary, Mississauga, Montreal and Toronto

windows phone developer briefings

Even though Windows Phone 7 is a new platform, there a lot of ground to cover. There are not one, but two programming frameworks, the touchscreen, GPS and other sensor input, the constraints of a smaller screen, battery life and on-the-go uses cases, and selling your apps or making them available for free through Marketplace. It’s a lot to absorb, and while I’m sure you’re all clever people, you might appreciate a tour of Windows Phone specifically tailored for the developer. Especially if it’s free!

If you’re thinking about getting started with Windows Phone 7 development and want to meet other like-minded developers in your area, come to our upcoming Windows Phone Developer Briefings. They’re free of charge to attend, feature sessions delivered by knowledgeable Windows Phone 7 developers from your community and will provide you with enough material to get you started.

City Where When
Ottawa Westin Ottawa
11 Colonel By Drive
Tuesday, November 30
5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Calgary Sheraton Suites Eau Claire
Wildrose North Ballroom
255 Barclay Parade SW
Wednesday, December 1
5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Mississauga Microsoft Canada HQ
(The mothership!)
1950 Meadowvale Blvd
Thursday, December 2
5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Montreal Intercontinental Montreal
360 Rue St-Antoine Ouest
Tuesday, December 7
5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Toronto St. Andrews Club and Conference Centre
150 King Street W
Thursday, December 9
5:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Here’s the agenda for all the briefings:

Time What’s Happening
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Registration
6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Apps with Silverlight
This session covers Silverlight. Microsoft’s event-driven framework for building interactive applications for the desktop, web and phone. If you’re building an “information”, “lifestyle” or “social” app, you’ll probably want to use Silverlight.
7:15 – 8:15 p.m. Games with XNA
This session covers XNA, the other Windows Phone 7 framework, designed specifically for developing games for Windows, Xbox 360 and the Phone. If you’re building a game, simulation or other app that needs to manipulate 2D sprites or 3D graphics, you’ll probably want to use XNA.
8:30 – 9:00 p.m. Next Steps
With the basics of development for Windows Phone 7 explained, it’s now time to talk about selling (or giving away) your apps, and other considerations you’ll need to take into account when developing for Windows Phone 7.

Register today! Click on one of the cities below to register for the briefing in that city:

The price (free) is about as right as it gets, and we want to make you mobile development rock stars!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Windows Phone 7 Coffee and Code at Just Us! Café, Halifax

just us cafe

We’re holding a Windows Phone 7 Coffee and Code in Halifax on Thursday, November 4th at Just Us! Café (1678 Barrington Street) from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.. Come join us and learn about Windows Phone 7, see a Windows Phone and even try deploying apps to it!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Two New Books for Windows Phone 7 Developers

Free Ebook: Programming Windows Phone 7

Cover of "Programming Windows Phone 7"

Charles Petzold literally wrote the book on Windows development, and he’s now doing it for Windows Phone 7. Programming Windows Phone 7 is published by Microsoft Press and covers Windows Phone 7 development from many angles: building apps with Silverlight, making games with XNA and making your programs even better by accessing online services.

Windows Phone is a lot of ground to cover, so the book is sized to match. Petzold’s been working on it since at least the start of the year and it shows – it’s over 1,000 pages on our favourite mobile operating system! Luckily, this book is free-as-in-beer: that’s right, you can download it in ebook form, along with the sample code, for no money at all. If you’re looking to seriously get into Windows Phone 7 development, you should have this book.

Downloads for Programming Windows Phone 7

XNA 4.0 Game Development by Example

Cover of "XNA 4.0 Game Development by Example"

Survey after survey shows that games are the most popular mobile phone apps, and Windows Phone is really good at games, and not just from the user’s point of view. The XNA framework, available to Windows Phone developers, takes Windows Phone 7 beyond mere informational apps – it’s like having an Xbox in your pocket!

XNA is also more than just about Windows Phone – it’s also for developing games for Windows and the Xbox 360. Better still, it lets you target three platforms – desktop, console and phone – with a single codebase and tweaks specifically for each platform. If you want to write games and reach a wide audience, XNA is your ticket.

Packt Publishing’s XNA 4.0 Game Development by Example is a great way to get started with XNA programming. It walks you through the development of four games, each from a different genre:

  • Flood Control, a timed puzzle game where you have to quickly assemble pipes before time runs out and water flows through them
  • Asteroid Belt Assault, a 2-D shooter that classic 80’s arcade gamers will find familiar
  • Robot Rampage, a tank game featuring multi-axis controls, a scrolling world, particle effects and enemy AI
  • Gemstone Hunter, which takes the Platformer Starter Kit to new levels

I just got the book, and have only done the most cursory of scans, but I’ve already picked up a few ideas for how to implement features in my games. If you’re looking to do game development for Windows Phone and beyond, this is a great starter book!

Get XNA 4.0 Game Development by Example

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.