Want a Windows Phone 7? Here are the choices and costs in the UK

I’ve been taking a look at what it will cost to get hold of a Windows Phone 7 device when it appears.

By way of preamble, personally I’m allergic both to contracts and to locked devices. It is an especially difficult issue for individual developers who want to test, support or develop for multiple devices. If you want an unlocked device, you could try Expansys which is currently taking orders for the HTC 7 Trophy – 3.8” screen, 8GB storage at £429.99 including VAT, but not due until 11th November.

O2’s HTC HD7 also looks attractive for developers, since it is available on pay as you go and has 16GB storage. It may be a bit bulky, but that is no bad thing for testing.

Vodafone has the cheapest currently announced deal by some measures, with the Trophy for £25.00 per month.

What if you want the HTC 7 Pro, which has 16GB storage and a slide-out keyboard? It’s set to be available in the US from early 2011 on Sprint, no word yet about Europe though I’m told it will appear here around the same time.


If you want a keyboard, the good news is that the LG Optimus 7Q also has one; the bad news is that there are apparently no plans to offer it in the UK. You will be able to get it on Telstra in Australia.

There is also the Dell Venue Pro which has a little thumb keyboard, but no UK availability announcement yet. It will be on T-Mobile in the USA.

Dell Venue Pro

O2 has published details of its tariffs for the HTC HD7 – 4.3" screen, 16GB storage.

  • Free on £40 24 month tariff
  • £379 pay and go


Orange, which says it is “Microsoft’s lead partner”, will have the Samsung Omnia 7 – 4.0" screen, 8GB storage, free on a £40.00, 24 month tariff. Note this is cheaper on T-Mobile, see below.

Samsung Omnia 7

Orange also offers HTC 7 Mozart – 3.7" screen, 8GB storage, free on £35.00 24 month tariff.

No word on pay as you go for either handset.

T-Mobile, which like Orange is now owned by Everything Everywhere, also has the the Omnia 7, free on a £35.00 24-month contract.

Vodafone has the HTC 7 Trophy – 3.8” screen, 8GB storage. This is free on a £25.00, 24 month contract. I’ve also been told Vodafone will offer the LG Optimus 7 – 3.8” screen, 16GB storage free with a £30, 24 month deal.

Three has the Samsung Omnia 7 on 24-month plans from £35.00 to £40.00 per month.

Might there be supply issues at launch? I am guessing that is likely, so if you are keen get your order in early. On the other hand, these are version one devices, so the usual health warnings apply.

IBM to harmonise its open source Java efforts with Oracle

IBM’s Bob Sutor, VP of Open Systems and Linux, says in a blog post that the company will now shift its open source Java effort from the unofficial Apache Harmony, to the official Open JDK. The announcement is also covered in an Oracle press release.

Sutor’s post is curious in some ways. He focuses on a long-standing issue, the refusal of Sun and then Oracle to make its testing suite available (TCK – Testing Compatibility Kit) under a suitable license so that users of Harmony could have confidence that its implementation is correct:

We think this is the pragmatic choice. It became clear to us that first Sun and then Oracle were never planning to make the important test and certification tests for Java, the Java SE TCK, available to Apache. We disagreed with this choice, but it was not ours to make. So rather than continue to drive Harmony as an unofficial and uncertified Java effort, we decided to shift direction and put our efforts into OpenJDK. Our involvement will not be casual as we plan to hold leadership positions and, with the other members of the community, fully expect to have a strong say in how the project is managed and in which technical direction it goes.

We also expect to see some long needed reforms in the JCP, the Java Community Process, to make it more democratic, transparent, and open. IBM and, indeed Oracle, have been lobbying for such transformations for years and we’re pleased to see them happening now. It’s time. Actually, it’s past time.

The interesting question is what has really changed, since the situation with the Java TCK is not new. It reads as if some intense negotiation has been going on behind the scenes, of which this is only part of the outcome. It is not yet clear, for example, exactly what changes are happening to the JCP, which controls the Java specification subject to Oracle’s approval, although Sutor refers to them almost as if they are a done deal.

IBM’s announcement gives a boost to the official Java platform at a time when it is under a cloud, following a JavaOne conference which was run as a sideline to the Oracle OpenWorld event last month, and rumblings of dissatisfaction from the JCP and from Java inventor James Gosling.

Another important player is Google, whose Android operating system uses the Java language but an incompatible virtual machine called Dalvik. IBM’s move will strengthen Oracle’s position as steward of the official Java platform.

This is a blow to Harmony. The current list of contributors  has 31 names, of which 9 are from IBM, 3 from Intel, 1 from Joost, and the others independent. It is a shame to see an important open source project so much at the mercy of corporate politics.

Windows Phone 7 gets decent launch, Stephen Fry’s blessing

I was not able to attend the press conference for Windows Phone 7 in person but watched the live webcast from New York. I was unconvinced by the phrase “Always delightful, wonderfully mine” which formed the basis of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s lead-in, but it got better.


Corporate VP Joe Belfiore did a live demo, explained how the team had aimed to simplify the phone and make it where possible seem one step ahead of the user, predicting the information you would want or the next step you wish to take. He also spent some time on enterprise features, especially Office and Exchange integration, which interested me as there is some ambiguity in how Microsoft is positioning the launch devices; consumer is the focus yet business-oriented features keep cropping up.


One of the 5 HTC phones announced today is the HTC 7 Pro which has a keyboard and seems mainly aimed at business users.

Ralph de la Vega from AT&T said that his company will offer Windows Phone 7 from November 8th in USA, initially from LG, but with  with 3 devices – LG, HTC, Samsung – available a few weeks later.

Belfiore’s demo looked good, despite a couple of failures from which he made a good recovery. He announced that the much-discussed Copy and Paste feature, which will be absent from the first release, will come as an automatic update early in 2011.

He also spent some time on the Xbox Live integration, which is one feature that is distinctive to Windows Phone 7 and strikes me as a smart move. A couple of XNA games were demoed and look good, one called Ilo and Milo that uses the accelerometer:


and a familiar one from EA, The Sims:


The best part of Microsoft’s launch though was not in the USA but in the UK. Celebrity Stephen Fry, known for his love of all things Apple, got up and and praised the phone.


The BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones caught some of this on video, and I am going to quote extensively because it touches on something I’ve been tracking for years: Microsoft’s belated recognition of the importance of design:

I made no secret of my dislike of Microsoft over many years. I did think that analogy of a building site, of a Sixties grey office, is essentially what the environments they were making then were. Whatever I may think of this device (and I’m going to come to that in a moment) I think we can all admire the humility which which Microsoft have admitted to the fact that they now, I think, get it. They get the fact that all human beings whether they work in enterprise or in small businesses or are self employed, are human beings first.

You don’t judge the machines you use or the houses you live in or the offices where you work, simply by listing their functions. The first thing you do as a human being, whether you work for a large office or a small one, is say how you feel about it.

What I was always excited by when Apple produced things and then when HTC and other OEMs started making fascinating and enjoyable Androids, and even when RIM came out with the Torch, I felt pleasure using them. These are things, we carry them around at all times and our lives flow through and out of them. And the first feeling we should have is one of delight, so when I heard Mr Ballmer use the word “delight” I thought, oh what joy there is in heaven when a sinner repents. Because let’s be frank, Microsoft were grey, they were featureless, they did concentrate so much on enterprise and tickboxes for function, that they forgot that even the greyest number-cruncher in the corporation is a human being first, a father, a husband, a mother, a daughter, whatever, and that their experiences are based on feeling and emotion.

So when they did send me one of these about a week or so ago – I’ve got a few of them, and I’m not being paid – my first feeling was that it was just fun to play with. And I know that’s childish, but isn’t that how you think of cars and many other things we spend our lives doing? That it’s fun to drive. Yes you want it to be economical, yes you want it to get from A to B, yes you want various things.

People buy things because they feel that emotional engagement, they feel the pleasure of using it. I have felt enormous pleasure using this phone. Yes, because I’m not a paid spokesman, because I’m not any kind of spokesman for Microsoft, I can say that it has deficiencies; but then that was the thing about the iPhone that everybody felt, people who had Windows Mobile 5, as it then was, they laughed to scorn the iPhone when it arrived because it didn’t have all these functions. But if you remember the tedious horror of drilling down through the menus just to get a wireless connection, on an old WinMob phone, you will understand that it wasn’t about that, people embraced the iPhone because it was simple, it was closed, it was clear.

Now the closed environment is something you’re all going to be speaking about, the ecosystem, you’re all going to be speaking about how it positions itself against RIM and it positions itself, crucially, against the iPhone and the Android, and that’s a decision that only the market and the next year can make.

He added on Twitter:

Some will call me traitor, but I was pleased to stand on stage ad welcome Windows Mobile 7 into the world. Used it for a week. Like it.

This was a great PR coup for Microsoft, but more important, it shows the impact of something I wrote about in 2008: Bill Buxton’s arrival at Microsoft and his work to introduce design-consciousness to Microsoft and its OEMs:

Everybody in that food chain gets it now. Everybody’s motivated to fix it. Thinking about the holistic experience is much easier now than it was two years ago. What you’re going to see with Mobile 7 is going to give evidence of progress.

I thought the launch was good enough to make people want to try this phone; and considering Microsoft’s current position in the market that is a good result for the company.

Can Microsoft repeat history and come from behind with Windows Phone 7?

This week is Windows Phone 7 week. Microsoft is announcing details of the launch devices and operators, and I shall be watching and reporting with interest on the joint press conference with CEO Steve Ballmer and AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega.

But how significant is this launch? I think it is of considerable significance. Mobile devices are changing the way we do computing. It is not only that more powerful SmartPhones and tablets are encroaching on territory that used to belong to laptop and desktop computers. We are also seeing new business models based on locked-down devices and over-the-air app stores, and new operating systems, or old ones re-purposed. It is a power shift.

Despite its long years of presence in mobile, it feels like a standing start for Microsoft. A recent, and excellent, free day of training on developing for Windows Phone 7 was only one-third full. Verizon will not be offering the phone, and its president Lowell McAdam suggests that the market belongs RIM, Google and Apple, and that Microsoft’s phones are not innovative or leading edge.

I disagree with McAdam’s assessment. Although I’ve not yet had a chance to try a device for myself, what I have seen so far suggests that it is innovative. While the touch UI does borrow ideas with which we have become familiar thanks to iPhone and Android, the dynamically updating tiles and the hub concept both strike me as distinctive. What McAdam really means is that the phone might not succeed in the market, and such views from someone in his position may be self-fulfilling.

The application development platform is distinctive too, being based on .NET, Silverlight and XNA. I have followed Microsoft’s .NET platform since its earliest days – which as it happens were on Windows Mobile, in the form of the Common Executable Format – and Silverlight seems to me the best incarnation yet of the .NET client. It is lightweight; it performs well; it has a powerful layout language that scales nicely, and it has all sorts of multimedia tricks and effects. Visual Studio and the C# language form a familiar and capable set of tools, supplemented by the admittedly challenging Expression Blend for design.

Still, having a decent product is not always enough. Palm’s webOS devices were widely admired on launch, but that was not enough to rescue the company, or to win more than a tiny market share.

Microsoft has resources that Palm lacked, and a reach that extends from cloud to desktop to device. It may be that Windows Phone 7 has better chances. The problem is that the company’s recent history does not demonstrate the success in coming from behind that characterised its earlier days:

  • Microsoft came from behind with a GUI operating system, even though Windows was inferior to the Mac’s GUI.
  • Microsoft came from behind with Excel versus Lotus 1-2-3.
  • Microsoft came from behind in desktop database managers with Access versus dBase.
  • Microsoft came from behind in networking and then directory services versus Novell and others.
  • Microsoft came from behind with .NET versus Java, which I judge a success even though Java has also prospered.

I am sure there are other examples. Recent efforts though have been less successful. Examples that come to mind include:

  • Internet Explorer – still the most popular web browser, but continues to lose market share, even though Microsoft has been working to regain its momentum since the release of IE7 in 2006.
  • Zune – now a well-liked portable music player, but never came close to catching Apple’s iPod.
  • Silverlight – despite energetic development and strong technology, has done little to disturb the momentum behind Adobe Flash.
  • Tablets – Microsoft was an innovator and evangelist for the slate format, but Apple’s iPad is the first device in this category that has caught on.
  • Numerous examples from Windows Live versus Google and others.

Now here comes Windows Phone 7, with attention to design and usability that is uncharacteristic of Microsoft other than perhaps in Xbox consoles (red light of death aside). In one sense Microsoft can afford for it to fail; it has strong businesses elsewhere. In another sense, if it cannot establish this new product in such a strategic market, it will confirm its declining influence. The upside for the company is that a success with Windows Phone 7 will do a lot to mend its tarnished image.

Windows Phone 7 development hits the big screen

I spent yesterday in the dim light of a Manchester cinema, attending the Windows Phone 7 developer day.

The event was organised by DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper, which is a .NET community group run, as far as I can tell, by a group of Microsoft MVPs. The sponsors were Microsoft, Appa Mundi, and NxtGenUG. Towards the end of the day, Andy Wigley (from Appa Mundi) made a statement that this was a community event and not an official Microsoft event. It was true up to a point, though as far as I can tell Microsoft paid for most of it -“Microsoft UK very kindly provided the venue and logistic support.” says the event description. Microsoft was present showing real Windows Phone 7 devices, and the presenters included Andy Wigley (from Appa Mundi) and Rob Miles, who have also presented the official Jump Start training for Windows Phone 7, and regular TechEd speaker Maarten Struys who is a Windows embedded and Windows Phone evangelist working for Alten PTS in the Netherlands. Community, or Microsoft PR?

Regardless, they were excellent speakers and well informed on all things Windows Phone 7. The community aspect did come to the fore when it came to the catering – there was none – and the venue itself which felt as you would expect a cinema out of hours to feel. I’m guessing Microsoft the community was disappointed with the attendance, around 100 in a venue that seats 330.


There is one significant benefit to presenting in a cinema. The screen and projection was first-rate.


The sessions themselves were introductory but struck me as useful for anyone getting started with Windows Phone 7 development – which given the devices are not yet available, is probably most of us. Andrej Radinger’s session on creating apps that work offline was particularly interesting to me. I had previously seen the Jump Start course so some of the material was already familiar, though the refresher did no harm.

Much of the challenge of Windows Phone 7 development is coping with the fact that your app will frequently get killed and have to resume later as if nothing happened. We got a lot of input on this topic.

Another challenge is coping with Expression Blend. Designer Tricky Bassett gave a short but insightful view of the design process for a Windows Phone 7 app, with some intriguing asides along the way. He is a design professional, and said that his team had been excited about SketchFlow, the prototyping tool in Blend, but in practice found it little use because they only need sketches, rather then the working controls which SketchFlow gives you. He also commented on Blend, saying that Blend with Windows Phone 7 projects was more stable than it had been before, in his experience with other projects. In previous work with Blend, solutions that did not load have been a recurring problem – I take it that either they loaded in Visual Studio but not in Blend, or vice versa.

Bassett also said that Blend takes some effort to learn, and this was confirmed by the way some of the presenters struggled to do basic operations with the tool. The Blend UI is perplexing and at events like this one I’d suggest that a Blend Basics piece would go down well.

The Silverlight and XNA platforms strike me as pretty good, though I think that lack of native code development will be a problem among the best developers – there are interesting rumours about certain developers getting special privileges.


My overriding impression though is that the phone is good, the tools are good, but the demand is lacking. One developer told me that he has been trying to sell an idea for a custom Windows Mobile application to a small business client with 12 employees. They are keen but their employees want either Apple iPhone or Google Android phones. Windows Phone 7 may help by being a better and more attractive device, but getting past the perception that Windows phones are not much good is going to be a problem.

But what can Microsoft do? It is going to take devices that deliver on the promise, a stunning marketing campaign, and aggressive pricing, for this thing to flourish.

NuPack brings package management to Microsoft .NET

Microsoft has announced the beta release of NuPack, which is a package manager for .NET projects, mainly focused on open source libraries. NuPack itself is open source.

I downloaded NuPack and took a look. It installs as a Visual Studio extension, and I used it with Visual Studio 2010. Once installed, you get a new Add Package Reference option for any .NET project, which opens this dialog:


There seem to be around 40 projects currently available, including some familiar names:

  • Castle Inversion of Control
  • fbConnectAuth Facebook Connect authentication library
  • JQuery – though this already appears by default in many ASP.NET projects
  • log4net logging library
  • Moq mocking library
  • NHibernate object-relational mapper
  • NUnit unit-testing framework

Once you find the package you want to add, click install and it is automatically added to your project, complete with any necessary configuration changes. There is also a PowerShell-based console. In some cases it is better to use the console, as a package can add new commands which you can call from there.

NuPack strikes me as a great idea; one comment to Scott Hanselman’s post on the subject calls it GEM for .NET, GEM being the Ruby package manager. That said my quick go with NuPack has not been entirely smooth, and I got an error on my first attempt at adding NUnit to a project, fixed after restarting Visual Studio.

My main reservation is whether Microsoft will really get behind this and support it, or whether it will end up as another promising initiative that after a while is abandoned.

Steve Ballmer ducks questions at the London School of Economics

This morning Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spoke at the London School of Economics on the subject of Seizing the opportunity of the Cloud: the next wave of business growth. Well, that was supposed to be the topic; but as it happened the focus was vague – maybe that is fitting given the subject. Ballmer acknowledged that nobody was sure how to define the cloud and did not want to waste time attempting to do so, “cloud blah blah blah”, he said.


It was a session of two halves. Part one was a talk with some generalisations about the value of the cloud, the benefits of shared resources, and that the cloud needs rather than replaces intelligent client devices. “That the cloud needs smart devices was controversial but is now 100% obvious,” he said. He then took the opportunity to show a video about Xbox Kinect, the controller-free innovation for Microsoft’s games console, despite its rather loose connection with the subject of the talk.

Ballmer also experienced a Windows moment as he clicked and clicked on the Windows Media Player button to start the video; fortunately for all of us it started on the third or so attempt.

Just when we were expecting some weighty concluding remarks, Ballmer abruptly finished and asked for questions. These were conducted in an unusual manner, with several questions from the audience being taken together, supposedly to save time. I do not recommend this format unless the goal is to leave many of the questions unanswered, which is what happened.

Some of the questions were excellent. How will Microsoft compete against Apple iOS and Google Android? Since it loses money in cloud computing, how will it retain its revenues as Windows declines? What are the implications of Stuxnet, a Windows worm that appears to be in use as a weapon?

Ballmer does such a poor job with such questions, when he does engage with them, that I honestly do not think he is the right person to answer them in front of the public and the press. He is inclined to retreat into saying, well, we could have done better but we are working hard to compete. He actually undersells the Microsoft story. On Stuxnet, he gave a convoluted answer that left me wondering whether he was up-to-date on what it actually is. The revenue question he did not answer at all.

There were a few matters to which he gave more considered responses. One was about patents. “We’re better off with today’s patent system than with no patent system”, he said, before acknowledging that patent law as it stands is ill-equipped to cope with the IT or pharmaceutical industries, which hardly existed when the laws were formed.

Another was about software piracy in China. Piracy is rampant there, said Ballmer, twenty times worse than it is the UK. “Enforcement of the law in China needs to be stepped up,” he said, though without giving any indication of how this goal might be achieved.

He spoke in passing about Windows Phone 7, telling us that it is a great device, and added that we will see slates with Windows on the market before Christmas. He said that he is happy with Microsoft’s Azure cloud offering in relation to the Enterprise, especially the way it includes both private and public cloud offerings, but admits that its consumer cloud is weaker.

Considering the widespread perception that Microsoft is in decline – its stock was recently downgraded to neutral by Goldman Sachs – this event struck me as a missed opportunity to present cogent reasons why Microsoft’s prospects are stronger than they appear, or to clarify the company’s strategy from cloud to device, in front of some of the UK’s most influential technical press.

I must add though that a couple of students I spoke to afterwards were more impressed, and saw his ducking of questions as diplomatic. Perhaps those of us who have followed the company’s activities for many years are harder to please.

Update: Charles Arthur has some more extensive quotes from the session in his report here.

Data analysis hot at Future of Web Applications Day One

I’ve been attending the Future of Web Applications conference in London. I spoke to several attendees in the evening and the general perception was that the event had been weaker than usual so far. Complaints concerned uninspiring sessions, lack of deep technical content, and information on HTML 5 that was really nothing new.

That said, several said how much they enjoyed a session from Hilary Mason at bit.ly on data analysis. Bit.ly does url shortening, with 70% of so of its traffic coming from Twitter clients, and Mason is a statistical expert who has worked on analysing and visualising the resulting data. She told us, for example, that news links are more popular than sports links, and sports links more popular than food links. She was also able to discover the best time to post a link for any particular Twitter account, if you want maximum clicks. There is no quick way to discover this, so this type of analysis is valuable for companies using Twitter as a PR tool. Another snippet of information was the half-life of a typical bit.ly link – in other words, the time interval by which it has recorded 50% of its likely total clicks – which in the example she showed us was between 20 and 25 minutes.

The consequence was that I went into the next session, on social gaming, with data analysis on my mind. The  session was presented by Kristian Segerstrale at Playfish, part of Electronic Arts focused on casual games for Facebook and the like. Gaming by the way is a huge part of Facebook, accounting for 30% to 40% of overall engagement, according to Segerstrale. As an insight into the future of gaming, it was a good session, but perhaps did not connect well with typical FOWA attendees.

Nevertheless, Segerstrale made a compelling point about how his company’s games evolve, which is also applicable to other kinds of web applications. He said that there is intense analysis of what works and what does not work, based on the flow of data that is available with web applications. You can see who is playing, when they are playing, which features are used, and get a level of insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your application which is typically unavailable for desktop applications. I imagine this works particularly well within Facebook, because of the rich user profile information there. If you take advantage of that data, you can get a lead over the competition; if you fail to make use of it, you will likely fall behind. There is now a data analytics skills gap, Segerstrale told us.

It was thought-provoking to see how data analytics was a common thread between such different sessions.

Rethinking Developers Developers Developers

I’m waiting for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to speak at the London School of Economics, which seems a good moment to reflect on his well-known war cry “Developers Developers Developers”.

Behind the phrase is a theory about how to make your platform succeed. The logic is something like this. Successful platforms have lots of applications, and applications are created by developers. If you make your platform appealing to developers, they will build applications which users will want to run, therefore your platform will win in the market.

Today though we have an interesting case study – Apple’s iPhone. The iPhone has lots of apps and is winning in the market, but not because Apple made it appealing to developers. In fact, Apple put down some roadblocks for developers. The official SDK has one programming language, Objective C, which is not particularly easy to use, and unlikely to be known other than by existing Apple platform developers. Apps can only be distributed through Apple’s store, and you have to pay a fee as well as submit to an uncertain approval process to get your apps out there. Some aspects of iPhone (and iPad) development have improved since its first launch. A clause in the developer agreement forbidding use of languages other than Objective C was introduced and then removed, and the criteria for approval have been clearly stated. Nevertheless, the platform was already successful. It is hard to argue that the iPhone has prospered thanks to Apple’s developer-friendly policies.

Rather, the iPhone succeeded because its design made it appealing to users and customers. Developers went there because Apple created a ready market for their applications. If Apple CEO Steve Jobs were prone to shouting words in triplicate, they might be “Design Design Design” or “Usability usability usability”. And as for developers, what they want is “Customers customers customers.”

Well, there are vicious and virtuous circles here. Clearly it pays, in general, to make it easy for developers to target your platform. Equally, it is not enough.

Microsoft’s own behaviour shows a shift in focus towards winning customers through usability, thanks no doubt to Apple’s influence and competition. Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 demonstrate that. Windows Phone 7 is relatively developer-friendly, particularly for .NET developers, since applications are built on Silverlight, XNA and the .NET Framework. If it succeeds though, it will be more because of its appeal to users than to developers.

What do developers want? Customers customers customers.

Google’s web app vision: use our store

I’m at the Future of Web Applications conference in London, a crazy mixture of tips for web start-ups and general discussion about application development in a web context. The first session was from Google’s Michael Mahemoff who enthused about HTML5 and open web standards, while refusing to be pinned down on what HTML5 is, which standards are in and which may in the end be out.

Microsoft is here showing off IE9; but one of my reflections is that while the HTML5 support in IE9 is impressive in itself, there are going to be important parts of what, say, Google considers to be part of HTML5 that will not be in IE9, and given the pace of Microsoft’s browser development, probably will not turn up for some time. In other words, the pressure to switch to Chrome, Firefox or some other browser will likely continue.

I digress. Mahemoff identified four key features of web apps – by which he means something different than just an application on the web. These are:

  • Local storage – encompassing local storage API and also local SQL, though the latter is not yet well advanced
  • Application cache – Cache Manifest in HTML 5 that lets your app run offline
  • Local installation – interesting as this is something which is not yet widely used, but clearly part of Google’s vision for Chrome, and also in IE9 to some extent.
  • Payments

The last of these is interesting, and I sensed Mahemoff showing some discomfort as he steered his way between open web standards on the one hand, and Google-specific features on the other. He presented the forthcoming Chrome Web Store as the solution for taking payments for your web app, whether one-time or subscription.

I asked how this would work with regard to the payment provider – could you freely use PayPal, direct debits or other systems? He said that you could do if you wanted, but he anticipated that most users would use the system built into Chrome Web Store which I presume is Google Checkout. After all, he said, users will already be logged in, and this will offer the smoothest payment experience for them.

The side effect is that if Chrome Web Store takes off, Google gets to make a ton of money from being the web’s banker.

Outside in the exhibition area Vodafone is promoting its 360 app store, with payments going through the mobile operator, ie in this case Vodafone. Vodafone’s apps are for mobile not for web, but it is relevant because it is trying to draw users away from Google’s Android Marketplace and onto its own store. PayPal is here too, showing its developer API.

The app store and payment provider wars will be interesting to watch.