WP7: Software distribution and development

I was reading up on what’s happening at MIX2010, and discovered this interesting snippet:

With Windows Phone 7 Series, Microsoft offers a fresh approach to phone software, distinguished by smart design and truly integrated experiences that bring to the surface the content people care about from the web and applications. Windows Phone 7 gave us the opportunity to start from scratch and create an application platform that draws on the best tools and technologies available today, to give developers and designers an opportunity to reach an evolving mobile customer. The Windows Phone 7 application platform is based on Silverlight and XNA, two robust and mature frameworks used by hundreds of thousands of developers today to build compelling applications and games for the Web, the PC, and Xbox. Applications and games are built with Visual Studio 2010 and Microsoft Expression Blend. Developers and designers publish their completed applications and games using the Windows Phone Marketplace. Marketplace provides developers and designers an open and structured ecosystem with the structure, transparency, and support they need in order to deliver on high quality, trustworthy experiences for end users.

This implies both that software development is entirely Silverlight/XNA based, and that software may be published exclusively through the Windows Phone Marketplace.

This may mean that software development is entirely managed code (as in .Net) as on the desktop platform Silverlight is exclusively .Net, however, on the Windows Embedded Blog, we find some potentially very good news:

The Silverlight for Windows Embedded feature is a UI framework for out of browser applications (or shells) and is based on the Win32/native API, not managed code. This feature gives you the ability to have designers create UI in Expression Blend, export their XAML and then have you hook up events in Win32/C/C++ at the back end. This means that designers get to “design”, and developers get to “develop”.

Since WP7 is based on CE7 this may not apply, but let us hope it does.

The distribution through Windows Phone Marketplace could well help Microsoft overcome one of the major issues with the current Marketplace – the lack of apps on it – because developers would have to use it. It could however be less beneficial, as the diversity of software for WM6.5 is due in part to the fact that nothing needs to get certified for you to install it.

Would you prefer an entirely controlled ecosystem (as the iPhone has) or a much more free one (as we have now) or somewhere in between?

MIX2010 and Windows Embedded Blog.

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