Tag Archives: windows phone 7 series

Windows Phone 7 emulator yields its secrets

So that didn’t take long. Microsoft has made a Windows Phone 7 emulator available to all, explaining that it is a virtual machine running the real device OS. While it works fine for debugging applications, most of the phone UI is mysteriously absent, the exception being Internet Explorer (needed for testing web applications). However, Dan Ardelean has done some nifty work with the emulator image, discovering that a lot more of the UI is present and can be exposed if you make a few modifications. He posted his modified ROM but has since removed it because of copyright concerns. I doubt it will be hard to find.


Applications available in the hacked emulator include Mobile Office with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Sharepoint Workspace (undermining Microsoft’s claim that this is only a consumer device), games including a version of Times Reader – full circle for this one, which started out in WPF, moved to Silverlight for Mac, deserted and went to Adobe Flash, and may now reappear in Silverlight – and music/video via a Zune section.


My tip to Microsoft: if you don’t want these things to leak, best not put them in the publicly-available image.

Ardelean has also figured out how to amend the native C# port of SQLite, satisfying demand for a local SQL database engine. SQL Server Compact Edition is actually present in Windows Phone 7, but not available to custom applications.

Microsoft copies Apple with Windows Phone app lock-in?

I’m reading the documentation for Windows Phone development. Here’s what it says:

A set of tools will help the developer to submit and certify their applications for the Windows Phone Marketplace. Applications are submitted in a .XAP file format, which is essentially one compressed file that contains all the files that are needed by the application. Developers can track their submission status and then receive a notification once the certification is complete. After an application is certified, it can then be submitted for publishing on the Windows Phone Marketplace. Developers can set pricing and select the markets in which they wish to publish the application.

Application updates can go through the certification and publishing process again in order to fix bugs, add new functionality, or provide whole new versions.

Windows Phone Marketplace and Billing

The Windows Phone Marketplace provides the one place where developers can make their applications available for purchase by consumers. Both Mobile Operator and credit card billing are supported, making it as easy as possible for consumers to pay for the program.

Note the lock-in words: apps must be certified by Microsoft, and the Windows Phone Marketplace is the “one place” to make applications available for purchase. According to Microsoft’s Charlie Kindel, Microsoft will take 30% of all revenue, and in most cases there is also a fee for registering as a Marketplace vendor.

I understand Microsoft’s Apple-envy; but it is disappointing to find that this new platform is equally locked, if I’m reading this correctly.

Windows Phone 7 developer story unveiled at Mix10

I’m in Las Vegas for Microsoft’s Mix10 conference, where the developer story for Windows Phone 7 series is being unveiled. According to the press release, the tooling for Windows Phone 7 looks like this:

  • Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone (free)
  • Windows Phone 7 Series add-in for Visual Studio 2010 RC
  • XNA Game Studio 4.0
  • Emulator
  • Expression Blend for Win Phone CTP

Essentially, you are meant to use XNA for games on the device, and Silverlight for other kinds of application.

Another part of the announcement describes new services for developers – Microsoft Location Service to provide location information, and a notification service to “push information to the phone, regardless of whether or not an application is running”.

Applications will be marketed through a new Windows Phone Marketplace.

I’ll report more details as they emerge, here and on The Register.

Update: Microsoft has added that Expression Blend 4.0, for Silverlight 4.0 support, will be a free upgrade from Expression Blend 3.0.

Silverlight 4.0 RC, Expression Blend 4.0 beta, VS 2010 add-in available for download here: http://silverlight.net/getstarted/silverlight-4-beta/ 

The MSDN documentation for Windows Phone 7 is here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff402531(VS.92).aspx

Windows Phone 7 Series and Microsoft’s partner problem

I watched Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, Joe Belfiore, and Andy Lees introduce Windows Phone 7 Series. It appears to be a complete departure from previous iterations of Windows Mobile, in fact borrowing more from Zune than it does from earlier Windows phones. At one point, Lees noted that it has a “new core OS” optimized in partnership with Qualcomm, though I would not rest too much speculation on that one phrase.


Unfortunately, the piece that I am most interested in, which is the developer platform, was not much discussed. It is to be unveiled at Mix next month in Las Vegas. Ballmer did say:

We raised the platform on which people can build … a new foundation with a rich set of development tools, built in and complete service availability that software developers can assume as a foundation.

Make of that what you will. I’d be surprised though if Silverlight is not a big part of the development story, along with revamped Windows Live services. I guess I’m expecting Microsoft to deliver with Silverlight something similar to what Adobe is doing with Flash and AIR – AIR for mobile devices has just been announced – but without the breadth of support across devices that Adobe has achieved.

We have been told that Flash will not be part of Windows Phone 7 in its first version, so it looks like it may live in its own development world to some extent.

The demo at the press launch has been well received, and it looks likely that Microsoft is creating a more usable phone than earlier generations. That’s good, though it is telling that it took Apple with iPhone and perhaps Google with Android to convince Microsoft that maybe the Start menu and a cut down Windows API wasn’t the best way to do a phone.

In the absence of technical details, what interested me most were the comments about how Microsoft relates to its partners. It is a hot topic for me. I am taking heat for talking about a poor experience on WIndows 7 that is really the fault of 3rd parties. The problem is that the partner system which worked so well for Microsoft in the early days of the PC is now working against it, and an unpleasant experience of a Windows 7 netbook is a symptom of that.

Clearly Microsoft also understands this. Ballmer noted that

We want to lead and take complete accountability for the end user experience … have more consistency in the hardware platform, more consistency in the user experience, but still enable [partner] innovation

Translation: we are being hammered by OEMs who wreck our product with poor quality hardware and add-on software.

But how will Microsoft change this aspect of Windows, whether on the desktop or a device? “There’s a bit of a conundrum here,” said Ballmer, and he is right. If Microsoft tries Apple-style lockdown, it may run into anti-trust trouble and/or drive OEMs to Linux. If Microsoft does no more than talk the talk, then the problem remains.

It is true that Microsoft is strictly specifying minimum hardware. That’s nothing new; it has done this since the earliest days of Pocket PC.

I’m inclined to think it is just talking the talk and that nothing will change. Still, here’s Lees on the same subject. He begins by restating Microsoft’s belief in the partner model:

One of the things we’ve kept constant is our belief in the partner model. There are three reasons why partners are fundamental to our business. Firstly, they add rich experience and expertise across a broad spectrum of areas, hardware, software and services. Second, is … scale. We need partners to develop, market and support Windows phones at this scale. Third, partners meet diverse needs by providing customers with choice. One size does not fit all. People want different kinds of phones.

It’s odd how Apple thrives without all that “rich experience and expertise.” But never mind. Lees adds:

We have changed how we work with them. The goal is to improve the quality and consistency.

So Microsoft says with one breath how it just loves the partner model, and with the next that it is changing it. We all know why it wants to change it. It is because it is broken, though Microsoft cannot bring itself to admit it out loud.

The question: which of these near-contradictory statements do you believe? That it is sticking with the failing partner model, or that it is changing it? My guess is the former, because I am not sure that Microsoft really has the will or even the ability to change, but I would like to be proved wrong.

Oh, and Lees says that the mobile operators:

… have tremendous value to add. They are not just dumb pipes. Our model is about enabling those innovations so that they can add software and services and benefit from our … platform.

I understand why Lees said this; but I find it hard to think of tremendous added value from the operators. Apple’s iPhone success is partly thanks to its skill in working round them.