News about the Windows Phone 7 development platform is leaking out, ahead of its official unveiling at the Mix conference next month. Rumour has it that both Silverlight and the XNA gaming framework will be supported, for creating consumer-focused applications, together with limited access to native APIs subject to Microsoft’s specific approval.
The controversial aspect, if these ideas prove to be accurate, is lack of compatibility with existing applications. It seems possible that C++ applications written for previous versions of Windows Mobile will not run, while those written for the Compact Framework will need porting to the Silverlight UI.
While there is little love for Windows Mobile, it is used for business applications where it integrates well with the rest of Microsoft’s platform. Since Windows Phone 7 seems to target the consumer, Microsoft may argue that this does not matter, since businesses can continue to use Windows Mobile. You would imagine, though, that enthusiasm for continuing with Windows Mobile will be limited given the superior usability of Windows Phone 7. Maybe a professional edition to follow in 2011?
One thing we know for sure is that Adobe Flash is not supported in the first release, though Microsoft says it is not opposed to it appearing on the platform in future. That in itself is interesting, since Adobe is hardly likely or able to rewrite Flash in Silverlight or XNA. Will certain important developers have privileged access to a wider range of native APIs? Despite rumours, there is still plenty to speculate about.