Microsoft suggested at the MIX 2010 conference in Las Vegas that its upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series had to be developed under an accelerated time-frame, perhaps curtailing its ability to be backward-compatible with Windows Mobile 6.x applications. Microsoft executives believe, however, that the consumer-oriented focus of Windows Phone 7 Series will attract both the enterprise and regular users, and that the tools are present to quickly rebuild older applications in an updated form. Microsoft will likely accompany the devices' release later in 2010 with a large marketing blitz.
Microsoft re-emphasized at the MIX 2010 conference in Las
Vegas that its upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series devices would not be
backwards-compatible with current Windows Mobile applications, a situation
attributed by one executive to the company needing to deliver the new
smartphone operating system on an accelerated timetable.
"We do recognize that there are a lot of folks who have been
writing apps for Windows Mobile for some time," Larry Lieberman, senior product
manager for Microsoft's Mobile Developer Experience, told eWEEK in an interview
March 15. "But we recognize that the landscape has changed, and as we've been
looking at stuff, we had to drastically change our game, and really the only
way to do that was to look at what we were offering and what we could do to
address this in a competitive accelerated manner."
Lieberman said that the new paradigm for Windows Phone 7
Series could provide the tools for resurrecting Mobile applications in updated
form: "The development platform gives people a lot of opportunities, and they
may be able to recreate a lot of their previous work in a very accelerated
Part of the reason behind a lack of upgrade path for
applications, Lieberman added, was the timing required to push Windows Phone 7
Series to market. "This product was delivered in an incredibly accelerated
timeframe," he said. "If we'd had more time and resources, we may have been able
to do something in terms of backward compatibility."
Nonetheless, Lieberman reiterated, Microsoft remains
committed to Windows Mobile 6.x and the devices, still slated for release,
running that operating system. While previous versions of their operating
system were specifically designed with the needs of the enterprise and courting
OEMs in mind, however, Windows Phone 7 Series re-orients that focus to the
"We recognize that enterprise users are consumers as well,
and there's a consumerization of IT process that's taking place," he said. "So
we were thinking that we needed a clean slate, and needed to focus, and we
needed to offer a great end-user experience."
During a keynote at MIX 10, Microsoft
detailed how Windows Phone 7 Series would leverage Silverlight and XNA to allow
developers to build rich content and 3-D games.
"As the browser, server, Web and devices evolve, a focus on
delivering consistently great user experiences has become paramount," Scott
Guthrie, Microsoft's corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Platform,
wrote in a March 15 statement tied to that keynote. "By extending our familiar
platform technologies and tools to phones, Microsoft is delivering the premier
application development experience across a variety of devices and form
Features accessible to developers will include a Microsoft
Location Service, for acquiring location information via a single point of
reference; Microsoft Notification Service for pushing information to the
device; hardware-accelerated video with digital rights management; and Internet
Information Services Smooth Streaming for high-quality media viewing;
multi-touch capability; an accelerometer; and support for cameras and
Tools available to developers for the new platform include
Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone, Windows Phone 7 Series
add-in for use with Visual Studio 2010 RC, XNA Game Studio 4.0, Windows Phone 7
Series Emulator for testing and simulation, and Expression Blend for Windows
Phone Community Technology Preview.
The new Windows Phone Marketplace will allow developers to
leverage their creations for profit, offering features such as one-time credit
card purchases, mobile operator billing and advertising funded applications.
unveiled on Feb. 15 during a Barcelona press conference
, Windows Phone 7
Series is a departure from other bestselling smartphones insofar as it
de-emphasizes the importance of individual mobile applications in favor of
subject-specific "hubs" that aggregate both application and Web content. These
hubs include "People," "Pictures," "Office," and "Games." The operating system
itself has a slick consumer sheen heavily reminiscent of the Zune HD,
Microsoft's portable media player. Microsoft intends to limit the variety of
the devices running the operating system, requesting that its hardware partners
conform to a form-factor with three buttons and a large multi-touch screen.
Microsoft executives have indicated that the launch of
Windows Phone 7 Series devices, scheduled for the end of 2010, will be
accompanied by a massive push designed to make them stand out in the market.