developers

 

Redmond has been interested in feedback from both users and developers since launching Windows Phone 7 and Microsoft is at it again.  This time with a survey for developers to fill in covering satisfaction of the Marketplace. This is specifically for developers as it covers the App Hub and developer process on Windows Phone platform.

You can check out and fill in the survey here to provide Microsoft with invaluable feedback.

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Although the Mango developer preview program is just a few hours old, there have been a few hiccups here and there. In a couple of tweets from Cliff Simpkins, Product Manager for WP7, he let users know about a few issues that they are aware of and when to expect some fixes:

  • Install instructions v1.2: Instructions have been updated now and devs are encouraged to read them to prevent any problems
  • Samsung Focus v1.4 - In short, they can't update using these tools, much like how they can't get NoDo. Simpkinns responds with "we'll put a fix out in mid-July to help you guys get updated"
  • Error 80180048 - "we'll also put up a fix out in mid-July." More Information can be found in the AppHub forums here.

We've also been hearing that some Focus users, including WinRumor's Tom Warren aren't doing too well: "Not a great experience with Mango on my Focus. I'm stuck with a phone that boots but no UI, just battery and time".

Clearly Microsoft was taking a risk here by doing this for devs, so we can expect a few bumps here and there. Lets just hope it's nothing too severe for those developers afflicted.

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Mango available for Developers

 

Here we are folks! This is it, a Mango beta ROM (reportedly build 7661) is now available (or will be shortly) for developers to update on their retail devices. Fantastic news for the registered brains. Confirmation comes from both Brandon Watson and Joe Belfiore. Full distribution of Mango to developers will be carried out over the next few weeks (in batches), registered developers will receive invites to the Microsoft Connect site, which will provide you with the update.

Countries explicitly supported for the early access program (your device will be supported by big M and will be processed should it malfunction once the distribution infrastructure is in place):

 "Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United States"

What should you do now? Why not head on over to download the Mango Tools beta 2, which includes a number of  goodies, update your device to Mango and then (as Brandon Watson so fantastically puts it):

"Third, go rub it in your friends’ faces that you have Mango and they don’t. "

There will be a tools update in the coming months that will feature the go-live license required to publish Mango apps to the Marketplace, but be sure to start being creative now since your apps will work in the tools and the developer phone. For more information, check out the official blog post using the link below. These are positive signs my friends, this will surely drive excitement for Mango even further.

Source: WindowsTeam Blog

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This is a simple reminder to everyone who has either missed our article covering this sweepstake or have not yet had the opportunity to enter. The User Group Event sweepstakes closing deadline is June 30th. Yep, one day away. Read through our previous article for more detail and information, be sure to get in quick should you wish to be in with a chance to win a new WP7 device (worth $500), not to mention free advertising with a ton of impressions.

Please remember to keep the code VIL12 handy when entering and note that this is open to US residents only.

Source: WP7 User Group Event

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Microsoft has announced recently that they are expanding their Advertising Exchange service on a global scale. What's interesting to note is this move could possibly give hope that they may bring the PubCenter beta to people around the world soon who don't reside in the US. I'm sure Microsoft would like to allow Canadians, Europeans, Australians and more to create and publish advertising campaigns in their WP7 apps and on websites.

We'll keep an eye out for any information which could indicate such a move for the PubCenter. For now it's still a waiting game unfortunately. Check out the press release for the expansion of the Advertising Exchange after the break.

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Yesterday we heard reports that a beta version of the Windows Phone Mango update would be released to developers this week. We then heard from Brandon Watson (via tweet) that such a release wasn't going to happen this week. Watson never said a beta would never be released, just not this week.

Enter Cliff Simpkins, Senior Product Manager for Windows Phone 7. In a forum for developer feedback on Windows Phone development the question arose about giving developers early access to Mango. Simpkins initial response,

"per @joebelfiore on May-24: We are working on a plan for DEVELOPERs to be able to get Mango for phones before we launch."

Simpkins would also follow up by clarifying that the Mango update and Mango devices are two different items. Because current devices will update to Mango, this helps reduce the number of developer devices needed. This makes sense and will help make the distribution easier on Microsoft.  If your development doesn't require the new hardware capabilities of Mango devices, then Microsoft will get you the update and forgo the developer device. Simpkins also adds,

"I think you'll all be happy with what we have coming; it's coming, grasshoppers, I promise. We're as anxious to get this out to you as you are to receive it - it just requires quite a bit of groundwork so that your personal devices stay as safe as possible."

As Watson mentioned in his earlier tweets, this week the focus was on the Press Release, likely to see what bugs the general public and sites like ours could pick up on. We feel confident a pre-release or beta version will get to developers but as to the "when", it's anyone's guess.

Source: windows phone developer voice Thanks goes out to Max for tipping us on this!

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Neowin recently covered how they've learned from a number of reliable sources that Microsoft plan to release a beta of the next major installation of Windows Phone 7, codenamed "Mango", in the next few days (22nd/23rd June) to registered WP7 developers. While we were over-joy and full of excitement, especially after reading through our Daniel Rubino's hands on with his WP7.5 loaded Samsung Focus, we held off from reporting this news until further confirmation was obtained.

The Twitter account Windows Phone 8 has just tweeted (shown above) to WP7 developers to keep a watchful eye out for the "Mango" beta, which will be available soon. This lightly confirms what Neowin reported and Microsoft Addict was able to confirm with a 22nd release date too. So, are we excited? Let's see what the next few days bring us in terms of beta releases, if they arrive of course.

Source: Neowin, Microsoft Addict

Update: While it was exciting to think a Mango Beta would become availalble to developers this week, Brandon Watson has dashed those hopes with a single tweet.

He also tweets seperately that no developer devices will be released this week as well.  According to Brandon, Microsoft wants to focus on the press preview and consumer related features first. 

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We recently covered Microsoft's Joe Belfiore putting forward that developers will be receiving Mango and there was some information on AppHub about plans to roll out Mango loaded devices, however we had no detail as to who would be eligible and how long you'd be able to keep said devices. Now Brandon Watson has expanded slightly on what his colleague said back at MIX'11 (as well as what AppHub is reporting).

From the image above we can see Brandon mentioning local mobile champs, specifically these folk. Serious developers who network with Microsoft and their WP7 team of elite as well as provide much freshness to the app ecosystem will be more likely to receive a handset. While the developer tools and emulator is readily available for developers, what happens should you be an anti-social geek who can't network, but is a terrific developer?

We'll let you all know when we find any concrete information detailing what the process will be.

Source: Twitter

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Developing apps for Windows Phone 7? Fancy a chance to win a WP7 new device worth around $500? Of course you do! You can by entering into the WP7 User Group Event sweepstake. It's simple to enter and there's a bonus too - the more apps you develop and enter into the stake, the more chance you have of winning.

Simply develop apps, submit them into the Marketplace and then fill out the form (you can add five apps maximum per form submission). You will need to use the event code (which is required on the form): VIL12. They're also running a competition featuring a prize of free advertising with 25,000 impressions, neat eh? Please note that both are US only.

Source: WP7 User Group Event

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WinRumors is appropriately running a rumor story that states Microsoft is getting ready to send out the first-wave of Mango developer devices as early as next week. The article cites anonymously "sources familiar with the company’s plans" so take it with a grain of salt. Still, this is just a matter of when not if for Microsoft, so next week sounds as good as any other week (we also know that Microsoft is getting ready to show of the latest build and features soon, more on that later).

Previously, it was speculated that since most WP7 devs actually own Windows Phones now and they can sideload apps, Microsoft would opt to distribute early Mango builds via a ROM update. But between the number of devices, drivers and the problem of returning the device back to an initial state (if there's a problem) has made such a process implausible, not to mention logistically challenging. Instead, new dev devices with the OS pre-loaded look to go on loan to developers who want them. 

Who gets them first, how to qualify and what type of devices is currently not known, but at least on the latter, modified HTC Trophys (with gyroscope), possibly the HTC Mazaa and something from Asus are possible.

Source: WinRumors

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Awhile back in an attempt to woo developers over from the iPhone, Microsoft released some dev tools to help in the transition. The tools are like a pocket-dictionary for a new language--they allow you to look up commands in one language and translate them to another (for Windows Phone). While they have no illusions that devs will just drop the iPhone development, the hope is to get devs to eventually cross-develop by making it that much easier.

Today, the Windows Phone team has done the same but for Android. From the Windows Phone Dev Blog:

...although you might have a preferred language, opening your mind to others will bring considerable value to your abilities and your resume. It’s true that jumping from one platform or language to another can break your habits, but change can be stimulating and will ultimately expand your opportunities.

To aid in this endeavor, the team is releasing two tools:

  1. Android to Windows Phone API mapping tool (mentioned above)
  2. “Windows Phone 7 Guide for Android Application Developers” white paper, 90+ pages organized in 7 chapters

The tools aren't yet Mango-ready, though they are looking to update them over the summer for that purpose. Once again though, this shows how committed Microsoft is to making the transition for cross-development more simple for developers. And from what we've heard, going from iOS or Android to Windows Phone is quite and easy task.

Source: Windows Phone Dev Blog

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Back at MIX11, Joe Belfiore tweeted that the Windows Phone team was working on a way to get 'Mango' into developer hands well before fall (when released generally). The makes sense as it gives devs a new chance to try all the new features and get their software checked out on an actual device.

Speculation was that Microsoft would provide ROM updates to devs at some point during the summer, but alas that seems to not be the case. On the AppHub page (where devs discuss the platform), a section has been updated stating that Microsoft will be once again using new hardware to distribute the new OS:

We're working on a plan. Just like last year, when we made developer phones available with the Windows Phone 7 OS, we plan to have developer phones this summer supporting new Mango features like the gyroscope. We don't have any dates to share just yet, so stay tuned.

Considering there are many current devs with Windows Phones, it seems odd at first that it won't be a simple ROM flash. But considering the likely hood of people "ripping" the ROM and distributing it early (and we know that would happen), on top of the logistics of sending out single ROM updates for 10 devices and we can see why Microsoft would do the hardware route.

Still, the question arises of who qualifies, how many devices will there be, for how long do you have them, etc. For that, we'll just have to do what Microsoft says and stay tuned.

Source: AppHub; via WMPU

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It was just yesterday that our own Richard Edmonds wrote an editorial here lamenting the sudden influx of many apps in the Marketplace from a single publisher. You may have seen this yourself, where the Marketplace under "New" is suddenly flooded with 50 apps that are all the same but "vary" by region.

We weren't the only blog to complain about it and your comments were unified: this was bad practice on Microsoft's part and it should be addressed sooner than later, otherwise we'll have another Android marketplace on our hands--and no one wants that.

Just 24 hours later, Microsoft has responded to the complaints via their Windows Phone Developer Blog. Todd Brix wrote up the piece and we have to commend Microsoft for both being quick and forthcoming on the process and their reasoning. They then present an fairly even-handed solution in two parts:

1. "To avoid the scenario where bulk publishing crowds out other apps in Marketplace in the future, effective immediately, we are limiting the number of apps any one developer can have certified in a single day to 20. Developers creating a large number of apps can still submit all of them for certification, but they will be certified at a maximum rate of 20 per day rather than all at once."

While 20 may still seem a lot, a cap is better than no cap and we hope that we rarely see as many apps from a single publisher. We imagine if it's still a problem, Microsoft could just as easily reduce that number. In fact, in order to prevent a developer from needlessly publishing apps, Microsoft has a part two as a solution to the problem:

2. "In addition, we are reaching out to the companies who most recently published a large number of apps with similar functionality in a short period of time. We’re offering to work with these developers to explore how they can better take advantage of the Windows Phone platform to improve the functionality of their apps and reduce the need for large numbers of similar apps."

By themselves, neither of these measures would be that effective, but combined we see this one-two punch to be a fair way to better control this ongoing issue and ensure a pleasant Marketplace experience. But now that Microsoft has said something, what do you folks think? We think MS deserves a lot credit for their response. You?

Source: Windows Phone Developer Blog; Thanks, Aleksandr K./Arktronic, for the tip!

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Not so long ago, 1800PocketPC reported that the Marketplace ranking system which moves apps and games up and down within a category depending on popularity and rating was broken (probably Chuck Norris had his app declined at certification and decided to round-house kick the Marketplace). Everything now seems to be back to normal and rankings reflective of respective ratings.

The problem was most notable with Lunar Lander, released on 11th May, has a two and a half star rating and was frozen at 68th position, while newly released Hydro Thunder GO, which has a four star rating was stamped at 1277th position. While this may not affect big developers much in terms of reach, indie developers who don't have Live titles in the games category would have found this particularly worrying, especially since they already have problems with Live titles getting more coverage.

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Telerik Wp7 webinars

Telerik have been hosting free webinars covering the Windows Phone 7 platform, and this week (this Thursday to be exact) is based around live tiles. Coverage will also include future improvements included in Mango, so this is well worth the attendance should you be awaiting Mango as a beginner developer.

As well as the above, they have another upcoming webinar on 8th June and it will be covering the Caliburn.Micro framework and how you can utilize it in app development. Both are available to register for and you have the chance in winning a free WP7 device for simply attending! Oh, did we mention that three RadControls for windows Phone 7 licenses per webinar are up for grabs too? 

Previous webinar sessions are available to watch through and include; Windows Azure, API usage and more. Check the link below to view previous videos or register for the two upcoming sessions.

Source: Telerik

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Next up on our developer interview schedule is Waheed Bhatti, Software Architect at Irtiqa. They are the team behind the London Travel (previously London Tube) app on the Windows Phone Marketplace, which is a must have for all who go about their business on the TFL (Transport for London) network.

Ride on past the break for the interview.

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]

We're not here to judge whether this number is good or bad, but Elbert Perez, who has no less than 12 games on Windows Phone (e.g. Quadra, Impossible Shoota, Nom Nom Worm, Steam Castle, etc.), just posted how much he's brought in so far. See his site here.

Now, a few things to remember abou Perez: he's basically one guy (indie) doing all the developing, which is quite impressive and his games are all free with ad support. It was five months ago he switched from paid games at about $0.99 to making them all free with ads. So is $30k in ad money pretty good? We think it's not bad but it obviously shows that the Windows Phone platform needs to grow in order for him to continue to make and increase revenue.

In many ways for developer's, Perez's model of game development and distribution should be a source of inspiration. We recommend checking out his "Going Full Time Indie" piece on what it's like to not work for a big studio.

Source: Twitter

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Developers, when not building incredible applications for the platform, would you like to leave feedback for the Windows Phone 7 team and vote on other ideas? Well, you can with the Dev Feedback Forum. Should you wish to see some changes (or features introduced) in a number of categories, including the emulator, network, sensor APIs, Silverlight and tiles, now's your chance.

You have 25 votes to use, which will be returned should ideas be taken on-board by the Windows Phone team. Suggestions will be moderated should they become actual planned features to be included in a future update and it's stated that all ideas will be looked at. Some good signs showing from the developer community with a good number of ideas already submitted and voted on. Microsoft seem to be continuously providing the means for users and developers to provide feedback, always a good thing.

Source: Dev Feedback Forum

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Joe Belfiore, Vice President of the Windows Phone Program Management, has tweeted today that Microsoft is looking into releasing Mango early to the developers before end users receive the update later this fall. This would make sense with giving developers an opportunity to update their applications to take advantage of the new 1500 APIs, as well as giving them an early preview on what's to offer and how they can further improve the user experience their end.

However, nothing has been finalized as of yet, but Brandon Watson did mention back at MIX that developers would possibly get the chance to receive Mango before it gets rolled out. Here's hoping.

Source: Joe Belfiore, via: WPSauce

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Developer Interview: Jay Bennett

We're starting a new regular feature here at WPCentral: the developer interview. Basically we seek out some of the of top, the brightest or rising developers to get their views on Windows Phone 7 and the whole process of bringing software to our phones.

This week we have the delight of being introduced to Jay Bennett, what he's been up to, how he views app development on Windows Phone 7 and what he thinks the future holds. If you're not aware of who Mr Bennett is (or what he does), he's an aspiring app developer on the platform who is behind the highly anticipated official wpcentral app, not to mention RateYourBeer (link to Marketpalce)!

Head on past the break for the fantastic interview.

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