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Should Windows Phone Developers Target Both 7 and 8?

What to do about Windows Phone 7? That's a question developers working on the Windows Phone platform are likely asking themselves. They fall into one of two camps:

  • They have an existing app on Windows Phone 7 and want to tweak it to work with Windows Phone 8
  • They skipped Windows Phone 7 for Windows Phone 8, and have published an app or are currently building one.

If that's you, Microsoft is providing guidance on how to handle the Windows Phone 7 installed base. It comes via a blog posting from Bernardo Zamora. Zamora says if you have a Windows Phone 7 app and want Windows Phone 8 users to be able to use it without upgrading the app itself for Windows Phone 8, you don't need to do anything, since Windows Phone 8 users will see your app (he does recommend, however, testing your app in a Windows Phone 8 emulator to make sure nothing is amiss).

If you want to upgrade a Windows Phone 7 app to Windows Phone 8, it shouldn't be that difficult. The drawback, however, is that Windows Phone 7 users won't be able to see it. How much that potentially affects downloads is an open question, since Windows Phone 7 didn't exactly set the world on fire.

Another possible course is to create a second copy of your XAP, upgrade it to Windows Phone 8, and keep (and maintain, of course) both copies of your app. That would keep the Windows Phone 7 owners happy, as well as your Windows Phone 8 users. You may not be as happy, though, with the additional creation and maintenance work.

In the blog post, Microsoft gives specifics on how to do each of these things. One important point to note is that if you're creating a new app from scratch, use the latest version of the SDK and compile to Windows Phone 7, rather than Windows Phone 8, to make the app available to both Windows Phone versions.

Simple, right?

Posted by Keith Ward on 01/16/2013

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