Microsoft Aims to Lure Developers to Windows Phone 7

Windows Phone 7 has been a topic of discussion at the Microsoft Tech Ed North America 2010 Conference here in New Orleans. While there were no sweeping announcements, Microsoft did reveal details about its Windows Phone Marketplace, a central retail and download service similar to Apple's AppStore. The company also provided some detail about release time frames for the Windows Phone 7 OS.

Brandon Watson, director of developer experience for Windows Phone 7, laid out some of the details for developers of the marketplace in a blog post. Among the details, developers can expect to pay an annual registration fee of $99, with a $19.99 fee applied to all free apps submitted after the first five. Microsoft also defined a marketplace revenue share of 70/30 for paid apps.

A notable feature for corporate developers is support for private app distribution through the Windows Phone Marketplace. The facility will allow developers to publish and distribute apps without exposing the code to outside parties.

Watson said Microsoft will begin distributing prototype phones to developers to work with starting in July. Developers interested in obtaining a phone must register on the Windows Phone Marketplace to be eligible.

"Go download the tools and register in the market place," Watson said during an interview at the conference. "That's the quickest path to getting phones, because we are not just handing phones out to everybody. Not just big ISVs, we want to be very clear about that. Even the folks with one or two man shops, couple guys with an idea, that are working at night -- those guys too have every right to gain access."

While initially pitched as a consumer device, there is little doubt that Windows Phone 7 is being positioned for a future in the office, with critical security features like remote wiping. Watson noted that consumers may be confused by features like SharePoint integration, but "businesses love it," he said.

"The market has spoken very very clearly. They want a consumer purchased phone that people can take to work," Watson said, noting the server integration and security features of the platform. "This is what we are going to do really well at launch, but here you can see the nuggets of opportunity [for businesses]. Be patient please."

Developer Pitch
Watson made it clear that Microsoft would be very aggressive courting developers to its new platform, looking for better ways to promote developers' wares and reward those who create outstanding applications. noting that the company has a lot of ground to make up in the community.

"We've got this enterprise dev customer locked up. They are not in danger. But we've got a large segment of users that not only don't use our stuff, they don't know about our stuff," Watson said. "We have to earn that excitement and win back developer mindshare."

Watson urges developers to download the Windows Phone 7 preview tooling and to master Silverlight.

"If you are a Silverlight developer you are good to go," Watson said. "It's not write once and run everywhere. It's write once and optimize for every screen that carries it."

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.

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