Last week we were privileged to speak with Brandon Watson, Microsoft's Director of Developer Experience about creating applications for Windows Phone 7 Series. Last month we were also able to chat with Microsoft's Gian Wilson on gaming for your Windows Phone 7 Series device.
Because Watson was on video conference, we are able to bring you the questions that were submitted to him and then provide a brief summary of his responses to those questions.
An application uses its own file format. The only way to transfer files to the app on the phone I see in the SDK is via web. Will a user be able to open an email attachment in my app?
No, email attachments will only be available to native applications, with no third party support at this time. We hope to relax those constraints in the future, as the ability is in the operating system. With WP7, we look to ensure no user has a bad experience with any of our apps, such as memory loss or battery drain. In the end, our goal is to make the devices perform in an outstanding way. Users won't ever get mad at the developer but instead will blame Microsoft for their bad experience.
Will there be abilities for developers to create new "Themes" to replace the "Metro" look? I personally would like to have control of personalization on my phone. I think there should be at least some type of ability to allow basic changes to the existing theme.
Again, we aim to make all applications work and also look great out of the box. There are no plans to develop or allow new themes.
I am not a developer but I would like to know if for WP7 there's going to be more improvement in apps.
Previous applications cannot be ported from WinMo6.x. The operating system was completely refreshed with the implementation of Microsoft Silverlight, which was previously unavailable in 6.x. We want application development to be simple and easy for everyone.
How often do you expect to get refreshes to the studio out and when do you expect the final release?
No dates have been committed publicly. Final build tools will be available shortly before the holidays, with a strong support for the development community coming well ahead of the launch.
Can you explain the importance of security in the development of apps, and what developers need to know before the start making apps?
There is no access to create additional threads, as we use the Silverlight security model. Apps are definitely sand boxed, and stored only locally. Sockets are coming, however the date is unknown.
What is the approval process for apps?
No official marketplace policy has been announced, but we want to be 100% transparent with why application were or were not approved. We do not want to leave a developer in limbo over their app and will not hide behind "broken policies." (Obvious shot at Apple.)
How will implementation of apps on WP7 work? Same as current, more closed like iPhone system, more open?
Our apps are all open as long as the language will conform to our process, which is .net based.
I am a Windows C# developer but have never created a phone app before. Where do I learn the basics? I downloaded the VS 2010 Phone 7 but would like a few more sample apps to look at.
Will the emulator become more feature complete with future dev revs? For instance, the emulator is kinda bare now, only having IE. Will there be phone dialer/zune integration/etc.. in emulator?
The emulator will soon contain the full phone x86 operating system.
Downloadable language packs?
None announced yet; not in scope for version 1 of the OS. Also there will be no VPN at launch.
Can you touch on the contributors to app development right now? Agencies? Independent developers? What does the playing field look like right now?
Right now we have 500,000 developers in market, with 2 million C# developers in the US.
Does this built-in Silverlight runtime include support for in-browser Silverlight?
No. (We thought that was odd.)
Some game development insight?
We have the ability for games to use sprites, 2D and the like using Silverlight. Or, if you're looking to make 3D animations and motion collision, we offer XNA.
Can you expand on the function of "worker threads" that can run while an app is "dehydrated"? And can a "worker thread" be accessed by multiple apps to pass data between them?
Application to application communication will not be allowed.
There have been discussions regarding developing live tiles, but I haven't heard any discussions about the black/blank space on the home screen to the far right. Can a developer make an app to provide for a Zune quick launch, volume control or a similar app to fill that area or is it off limits?
This is a reserved space.
Will access to contacts be coming in the future?
"A definite, definite maybe."
Is there an official line on variations in international availability of devices? Will they be available in the US for several weeks before the rest of the world?
There have been no markets of availability announcements yet.
When can a dev get a phone?
Information on that will be coming very soon. We love our developers.
Will silverlight games have Xbox Live integration?
Is trial mode mandatory for every app submitted?
No, we don't feel that is necessary for every application.
to deploy apps to the marketplace, I heard there is some type of membership to buy into. How much is this and how many apps will it allow me to publish?
There is a $99 fee to join the developer community.
What are you most excited about with WP7?
This is something completely different. We took a risk.
I am a heavy user of my BlackBerry, how will this be better for me? From a work /communication ? I also have a dash and the interface is not all that rocking. How will Win7 be better for me?
WP7 is a different experience than what BlackBerry users are accustom to. Information won't be segregated per application.
You use a WP7 day to day?
Totally. It's very stable and it works great.
Will data in isolated storage be removed when an application is uninstalled? What about an application being upgraded? Will data from the earlier version still be available to the new version?
Yes to the first two and no to the third.
Would u be able to use Microsoft points in the marketplace?
Can you tell us about any cool apps you're expecting will be created?
Yes, there's tons! And they're all cool. Visit live.visitmix.com to check them out.
At any point in future, once Windows Phone in-roads into Enterprise world, would Microsoft WindowsPhone team allow older cabs written for Windows Mobile to be executed for compatibility, at least the ones written for .NET Compact Framework?
No and will always be no.
I can deal without a DB, the question will be how fast will the XML processor be?
Fast-ish. It's as fast as .net handles XML.