WP7S

It looks like things are picking up on the development front with regards to Windows Phone 7 Series. Appcelerator, a company that makes cross platform development tools for mobile systems, recently polled developers on WP7S.

Appcelerator polled 1,028 developers in January to see what operating systems they were interested in developing for. In January 13% expressed an interest in Windows Phone development. The same group was polled gain in March and the good news is that interest in Windows Phone development almost tripled, increasing to 34%.

The bad news is that the Windows Phone is still trailing behind Apple, Android, and RIM systems.

Still the news is encouraging. The March poll was conducted on the heels of the MIX10 Conference where developers learned more about WP7S development. Microsoft has recently released a Developer Training Kit which will increase the exposure of WP7S and might boost these numbers further.  You can find the full survey report here.

[via: wmpoweruser.com]

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For those curious, the Zune connector i.e. the sync/charge interface cable from the Microsoft Zune series, won't be used at all with Windows Phone 7 Series devices.

That's the good news, since said Zune connector is a little large and more than a little proprietary.

The bad news is that the WP7s chassis specifications don't require any specific sync/charge format, meaning OEMs who make our next-gen phones are free to use Mini-USB, Micro-USB or even their own proprietary format.

Now we hope OEMs have learned their lesson in regards to that last one, so we don't think we'll see many of those. Still, for those wanting a definitive decision with regards to Micro or Mini USB ... looks like Microsoft is going to let the old free market decide. [via Windows Phone Secrets]

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Channel 9 (a.k.a. five guys at Microsoft) has released a Developer's Training Kit for Windows Phone 7 Series. The Training Kit is designed to give you a jumpstart into the new operating system.

The training kit includes three units covering the WP7S platform, Silverlight for Windows Phones and XNA Framework 4.0 for Windows Phones.

According to Channel 9 the training kit is geared for the beginners who want to get started with developing applications for the Windows Phone 7 Series.  Experienced application developers should find the training kit useful in that the Silverlight unit focuses in part the differences between Silverlight and Silverlight for the Windows Phone.

You can find the Windows Phone 7 Series Training kit here with each course unit being a separate download. 

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8

Give your desktop a 7 Series twist

Like the panoramic view of Windows Phone 7 Series?  Wish you could have tiles on your personal computer?  Want to see more of WP7S on your computer than just the emulator?  If such is the case, we might have stumbled upon a solution for you.

Rainmeter is a desktop customization platform that will let you use skins to enhance your Windows computer. Rainmeter has it's own following of chefs that create new skins for the platform (similar to the ROM Chefs for Windows Mobile) with varying color patterns, information displayed, and themes.

One such cooked up skin is the Omnimo UI which is based on the Metro-UI design of Windows Phone 7 Series. Tiles on Omnimo can be customized from content to color to number. The only thing missing is the touch navigation.

Simply download/install the Rainmeter program on your Windows Computer (Win XP or later) and then do the same with the Omnimo UI program. Both programs are complex by way of tons of customization options.  It took me about ten minutes to download, install and get the Omnimo UI running.  It will likely take me days to explore all the options both Omnimo and Rainmeter have to offer.

Just as with cooked ROMs, there is plenty of forum discussion on the both program's development to help guide users along.

[read: endgadget.com]

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Update: Added video above. Level of skepticism still fairly high.

Microsoft has said that the HTC HD2 won't be getting an official upgrade to Windows Phone 7 Series, but that's never stopped anybody before, has it? Tom at HTCPedia says he's got the WP7S Metro UI running on the HD2, and most of the big bells and whistles are up and running, including WiFi, GPS and Bluetooth. There are issues with the graphics drivers, he says, causing some lag.

Let's hope we see some video from boot to actual use pretty soon, to help shore up this one a bit, cause we all know how easy it is to be duped by pics. And speaking of pics, there are a few more after the break. [HTCPedia via Redmond Pie]

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For those who use Foursquare, that social network app that pre-dates Google's Buzz and lets you share your location with others, you'll be pleased to see what they have in the works for Windows Phone 7.

Demo shots were shown off by Windows Phone Senior Product Manager Anand Iyer on his blog recently.

While we have a decent version already for Windows Mobile 6.x, this new version for WP7s certainly looks very smooth and minimalist. In addition, there are two new features that as TechCrunch points out, not even the revamped iPhone version has: "Society" area and 'Directions'.

The former shows a "heat map" of the immediate area, which is a representation of the most popular spots in your locale. We suppose this is great for finding where everybody be at, as this kids would say.

The other feature, directions, is just that: once you find where your friends are, you can get directions to that spot within the app itself, instead of hopping into Bing or Google Maps (we won't even touch the multi-tasking issue).

One thing looks certain, with companies like Netflix, Twikini, the Associated Press, EA mobile, IMDB, Weatherbug, Pandora, Photobucket, Sling Media, Seesmic, SPB and now Foursquare, WP7s should have the basics ready to go on launch.

[TechCrunch via Rene Ritchie]

     

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5

Standalone Windows Phone 7 Series Emulator

If you're interested in exploring the Windows Phone 7 Series emulator but don't really want to bother with the entire development environment, we've found a way to do that. 

The emulator .exe file will need a few changes to the command line parameters to run independent of Visual Studio.  You will still need to download the Developer's Tools for Windows Phone 7 Series but Redmond Pie lays out the three step process to add this string, xde.exe C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\WindowsPhone\v7.0\Emulation\Images\WM70C1.bin, to the command prompt for the the XDE.exe file.  This will allow the Emulator to launch without the need to go through Visual Studio.

Nervous about tinkering with the command parameters? Redmond Pie also provides a shortcut for your desktop that will take care of it for you which you can find here.

I did experience one quirk in using the desktop shortcut.  I kept receiving an error message that the .bin file couldn't be found.  We discovered (or should I say Tim discovered) that the target properties of the shortcut needed a slight modification.  If you get a similar error, simply right click on the desktop icon, open up the properties and replace the existing target field with the following (including the quotations) to get the emulator to launch: 

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft XDE\1.0\XDE.exe" "C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\WindowsPhone\v7.0\Emulation\Images\WM70C1.bin"

Once launched, you will see the Windows Phone appear with a tool bar to the upper right of the phone.  I'm sure the load times will vary depending on your computer but don't be surprised if it takes a few seconds for the WP7S ROM to load.  Keep in mind that this is a work in progress and it's entirely possible that you'll run into a few bugs and glitches along the way.

Also, if you want to tinker with the unlocked WP7S ROM, you can find it here, courtesy of XDA Developers. Simply follow the directions to replace the development ROM .bin file and you can explore the unlocked world of WP7S.

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5

Another Windows Phone 7 Series handset from LG?

We need to file this under "strictly rumors" but images of a new Windows Phone 7 Series phone from LG have surfaced. Neowin first published the photos and has since pulled them from their site. All of which makes this phone more of a mystery.

LG already has one WP7S phone in the works that has a side-sliding QWERTY keyboard.  There is some speculation that this second phone, if not a fake, has a bottom-sliding QWERTY keyboard.

[via: unwiredview.com]

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When many first downloaded the Windows Phone 7 Series developer's tools, there were some complaints that the emulator lacked some of the WP7S features. It was only a matter of time before someone stumbled upon an unlocked version that had all the bells and whistles of WP7S.

From the unlocked emulator, a video walk-through was produced that takes you through various application navigation of WP7S. Including Zune, Office, email, messaging, and the internet browser. A second video reveals a little more on the WP7S settings.

Keep in mind that this is an early build of WP7S and Microsoft is still fine-tuning things. While an emulation, it gives us a little more insight on what we can expect from Windows Phone 7 Series.

You can catch the full ten minute videos here and after the break, a few more screen shots.

[read: TechAU.tv]

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14

Windows Phone 7 Series Promo Video

A new promotional video has surfaced on the internet for Windows Phone 7 Series.  It highlights the "life maximizing" capabilities of the new mobile operating system from Microsoft.  istartedsomething.com has the minute long video and it's likely only a matter of time before the video is diced up into thirty second, ready for prime time spots.

One has to wonder if the actors got to keep the phones after the shoot.

Update: Check out the video after the break.

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Twikini has long been one of our favorite Windows Mobile Twitter clients, and it's already getting the ball rolling for Windows Phone 7 Series. Developer Trinket Software has teamed up with Mist Labs (and our old pal Mel!) for the new project, and we must say, they're following the right people, if the screen shot above is any indication. More screen shots after the break. [Mist Labs]

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LAS VEGAS -- I want to noodle a bit about the Start Experience in Windows Phone 7 series, but before that happens I need to get something off my chest as a way of opening the conversation: I have an unhealthy obsession with notifications in Windows Phone 7 Series. There are two reasons for this.

The first and most important reason is that Microsoft is following Apple's cue by suggesting push notifications can replace functionality normally handled by third-party multitasking. If you remove the ability to multitask, you better make damn sure that your push notification replacement system works well.

The second is that we already have two mobile operating systems that do an excellent job handling notifications -- Android and webOS. Both allow notifications to appear without interrupting you, both let notifications "stack," and both offer a unified place to view and manage your notifications. Knowing that there are two systems out there for handling notifications well makes me want to see a similarly elegant system from Microsoft. Despite what I wrote in a recent tweet, WP7S does have a way to manage (some) notifications -- but it's going to require a shift in how users think about their messages.

Read on for more on notifications and how they relate to Start.

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Just got the bad news from another session at MIX10 in Las Vegas: There won't be any copy-paste action going on, at least at first, as apps are going to be pretty well sandboxed.

That's the long and short of it. Whether you really need copy and paste is one of those things that'll be debating until the end of time -- or at least until it actually comes to WP7S. So strap in, everybody. It's gonna be a long ride.

Also gleaned from this afternoon's sessions is that despite Silverlight crawling all over the operating system, it won't actually be baked into Internet Explorer. That means you won't be able to take advantage of the usual Silverlight fodder you find online.

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So there's that Windows Phone 7 Series "Metro" coffee table design book thingy that Dieter and I were just talking about in the podcast, and istartedsomething's Long Zheng has gone and photographed the whole darn thing for the world to see.

Taking pictures of a physical book and posting them online -- kinda gives a new definition to e-reader, huh? Check out istartedsomething for the entire slideshow.

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Before we all wet ourselves over this supposed "leak" of a Windows Phone 7 Series ROM, let's clear a few things up:

  • It's not a "leak," unless by "leak" you mean a public download straight from Microsoft.
  • It's not a "leaked ROM." Hell, it's not even a ROM.

What's happened is the folks at XDA are furiously ripping apart the code from the Windows Phone 7 Series emulator that's part of Microsoft's developer tools. And there are plenty of reasons to be doing this (and not just "because it's there"). They should be able to find out some interesting things.

But this is not a ROM. It's not going to be a ROM. And while we may, someday, see WP7S ported onto existing hardware (and I'm not going to bet on it), we're still a very long ways away from that.

Don't believe me? Try this, then, straight from XDA:

All you guys asking when and how and if we can have a ROM.....

We can't yet.

This is simply the emulator tools designed to run on x86 compliant hardware. This is by no means a ROM or will it ever be a ROM in this form, let's not clog the thread with continuous useless requests to have this converted to a ROM or 'how can I get it on my device ASAP'... We need to be patient.

That's right. Everybody chill out a little.

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2

WME @ MIX10: Day One Recap

When Microsoft said we would learn more about Windows Phone 7 Series at this weeks MIX10 Conference, they weren't kidding. Phil wore out two keyboards yesterday doing a fantastic job of delivering all this info to you.

A lot of information on Windows Phone 7 Series was offered to the developer community and in the process, the non-developer community learned more about the new operating system as well.  There was enough material and information being thrown at us we felt a recap of the highlights was in order.

After the break you can catch the highlights from the day plus a walk down memory lane with what we learned from this year's Mobile World Congress as it relates to WP7S.

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We've confirmed what Sascha Segan reported earlier: Windows Phone 7 Series is leaving a lot of power-user functionality by the wayside in the name of stability and battery life, to wit:

  • "True" multitasking. 3rd party apps simply can't run in the background - the only crack in this policy is that some apps will be able to take advantage of the built-in hub services to run - the touchstone case is Pandora in the Music Hub but Microsoft also mentioned photo sync a few times.
  • Sideloading. The only way for consumers to get apps on wp7s is to get them through marketplace. The only exceptions: developers, developers releasing beta versions to a limited number of testers, and enterprise apps distributed within a corporation.
  • Removable storage

Microsoft maintains that they're just balancing user demands and there's no doubt that nixing the above simplifies and improves the overall experience for many - if not most - users.

To make up for the lack of multitasking, Microsoft is following in Apple's shoes by offering push notification as a substitute for the vast majority of apps. One problem: although they're not interruptive like on the iPhone, they just appear and go away and there's no unified place to view all notifications.

To make up for the lack of sideloading, Microsoft has promised radical transparency for the app submission process to their marketplace. Good news: Microsoft has no problem with competing web browsers, email clients, map clients, and the like. They're all welcome. The bummer is that it doesn't appear right now that you'll be able to change your 'default' apps - for example, tapping on an address in email wouldn't be able to be set to open Google Maps. 

To make up for the lack of removable storage, well, we have the excellent Zune client. However it looks like there won't be a common file area that all apps can access - each app will have access to its own file storage area and be able to use high level APIs to access stuff like music, photos, and the like. So in addition to there not being removable storage, it doesn't look like you'll even be able to access the on-board storage directly as a USB disk. It all goes through the Zune client.

That's a lot of doom and gloom above, so we'll back off a bit and say that the apps really do look great and nobody can accuse Microsoft of only going halfway towards their vision of rethinking what a mobile platform and mobile apps should be. Until the phones are out there we won't really know how much the above limitations will chafe.

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LAS VEGAS--You wanted push notifications in Windows Phone 7 Series, and you're getting 'em. Above you see a little blue bar at the top of the phone's screen that popped down, alerting you to something happening in another app. Click the bar, and you're taken to it from whatever app you're in.

We'll have to see what ends up in the shipped version of the Windows Phone OS -- we wouldn't be surprised to see the look of the notifications change a bit -- but the principle is sound. That's also in line with how we think multitasking will work -- not so much a number of apps running in parallel, but in sequence, hopping from one to another.

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