Microsoft has opened an early access program for the "Mango" release of its Windows Phone operating system, making a beta of the OS and new tools available to developers.
On June 29, Microsoft said it is enabling developers to load Mango on their retail devices to begin to get a flavor for the new OS and its capabilities. Mango is scheduled for general availability later this year.
In a blog post on the new developer access, Brandon Watson, director of developer experience for Windows Phone, said, "People get that Mango is a big step that dramatically enhances the core experiences that we all rely on our phones for every day: messaging and communication, use of any of our more than 20,000 great apps and games, and great use of the Web."
Watson said registered developers will get invites to the Microsoft Connect site, which will give them access to Mango. And the early access program is being supported in several countries, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
However, although developers are glad to be getting the new Mango OS, not all developers are happy with the terms. According to reports, some developers are less than thrilled with the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) developers are required to acknowledge before getting the Mango bits. At issue is that developers are receiving the same bits Microsoft recently released to reviewers, but unlike the situation with reviewers, Microsoft is not allowing developers to publicly discuss their experiences with Mango.
In a report on the NDA situation, WinRumors, which was among the media outlets to receive the Mango bits, said:
The software giant issued beta bits of Windows Phone Mango on Wednesday but eager developers will need to agree not to talk about Mango as part of the terms of installation. Microsoft provides a number of tick boxes prior to developers gaining access to the beta bits. One of the rules, mixed in-between a number of warnings to backup devices, states the following:
"8. Confidentiality: By participating in this program, the developer agrees to not publish any content, screenshots or comments in any media in advance of the official launch of Windows Phone 'Mango.'"
Watson also said Microsoft is setting aside 50 Mango phones for students who have registered for Microsoft's DreamSpark program. "With the free Windows Phone Developer Tools Beta 2 and free access to Mango, now is the perfect time to see what you can do with Windows Phone," he said.
Watson further encouraged developers to jump in and get started with Mango:
"So what now? First, go get the tools. Second, update your retail phones to Mango. Third, go rub it in your friends' faces that you have Mango and they don't. Fourth, start building your Mango apps using some of the cool new functionality like fast app resume, updated Live Tiles, Motion Sensor, Live Agents, sockets, background audio or raw camera access. There will be a tools update in the coming months which will have the go-live license you need to publish Mango apps to the Marketplace, but don't wait. With the tools and the ability to test on Mango enabled phones, you should all be in really good shape when Mango is released later this year."