Microsoft continues to ramp up its Windows Phone 7 strategy, with a new online series of tutorials aimed at game and app developers. The software company also announced its intention to make the upcoming smartphone platform a go-to destination for mobile gaming, raising its competitive profile against not only the Apple iPhone but also portable-games makers such as Sony and Nintendo.
On Aug. 17, the company posted a series of training sessions, hosted by Microsoft MVPs Rob Miles and Andy Wigley, intended to help developers create applications for its upcoming smartphone platform. Windows Phone 7 takes a unique approach to the smartphone user interface, consolidating Web applications and other content into a series of subject specific hubs such as "Office" or "People." It will also include a Windows Phone Marketplace loaded with applications from third-party developers.
"We recognize that providing as much technical content as we can for the full range of developers is what developers deserve," Brandon Watson, Microsoft's director of developer experience for Windows Phone 7, wrote in the posting on The Windows Blog. "While we plan on having more live training sessions in the coming weeks and months, we are also committed to making that content available as quickly as possible to as many developers as possible."
Watson wins this week's prize for most uses of the word "developers" in a paragraph.
All joking aside, the 12, 50-minute sessions detailed in Watson's posting cover a number of Windows Phone 7 developer fundamentals, including how to build a Silverlight application and XNA-based games. Other sessions include "Advanced Application Development" and "Marketing Your Windows Phone 7 Application."
Along those lines-at least with regard to gaming-Microsoft used an Aug. 17 showcase at Germany's Gamescom 2010 to premiere the first wave of Xbox Live games debuting on Windows Phone 7.
"Windows Phone 7 takes a different approach to handheld gaming," Marc Whitten, corporate vice president of Xbox Live at Microsoft, said in a statement tied to the event, "utilizing Xbox Live, Microsoft Game Studios, leading game publishers, and innovative indie developers, to create powerful, shared experiences for everyone."
Microsoft seems to be positioning Windows Phone 7's "Games" hub as a robust alternative to other smartphone app stores, which offer games but nothing along the lines of Xbox Live's more community-centric features, such as customizable avatars and online leaderboards. In addition, Windows Phone 7 games from the "Castlevania," "Crackdown," and "Halo" franchises will likely help draw hardcore gamers to the platform.
Windows Phone 7 reached its technical preview milestone on July 18, with thousands of prototype smartphones landing in developers' hands. More than 1,000 Microsoft employees have reportedly been testing the platform for months, for metrics such as battery life, usability and network connectivity.
For Microsoft, that milestone ratcheted up the pressure to draw developers onto the Windows Phone 7 platform. The company has reportedly offered cash and other resources in exchange for mobile applications, particularly games that succeeded on other smartphone platforms such as the iPhone.
"We are investing heavily in the developer community by offering as many resources as we can to help them be successful on our platform," a Microsoft spokesperson wrote to eWEEK July 14. "Where it makes sense, we do co-fund strategic projects on a limited basis."
Microsoft has also been encouraging developers to build business-centric apps for Windows Phone 7, likely in the hope of retaining its presence among both enterprise and small and midsized business users. Of course, your typical businessperson probably also appreciates a mobile session of "Crackdown" now and then.