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A few days ago me and my colleague Kim went to Linköping to attend Swenug’s (Swedish .Net User Group) seminar about Windows Phone 7. The seminar was organized by the newly founded Swenug chapter in Linköping/Norrköping, sponsored by the company Sigma.

The evenings speaker was Dag König, Developer Evangelist at Microsoft, who gave us a 2.5 hour presentation about developing apps for Windows Phone 7. The presentation was interesting, inspiring and somewhat frustrating.

Windows Phone 7 is really a nice phone with a compelling and intuitive UI. Apps are developed with .Net Framework in Visual Studio 2010 and since we have used this technology for a very long time we could start developing apps any day. The frustrating part is that the phone was released several years to late. The competition is too far ahead of Microsoft and the market share for WP7 is extremely poor.

The Windows Phone 7 was released in October 2010, but still it lacks Swedish language, Swedish keyboard and Marketplace in Sweden. So if you buy a Windows Phone 7 you can’t buy any apps. You can download free apps though.

For the moment, these languages exists in the phone:
English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.

Marketplace is available in:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom, and United States.

WP7 also lacks Copy/Paste and Multi-tasking, features that is kind of a standard in other smartphones. Rumors say these features will be released in an update later this year.

So, if Windows Phone had Swedish features and if you could buy apps from the Marketplace, I would consider switching my iPhone for a Windows Phone 7.

The fun part

As a programmer I develop applications using Microsoft .Net Framework daily and it’s an easy task to start develop apps for Windows Phone 7. The possibilities are great and I really hope that the market will adopt the phone. Nokia is one of the largest cell phone manufacturers in the world and a few weeks ago they announced their switch from Symbian OS to WP7. This could be the thing that will take WP7 to the market and makes it a product to compete with iPhone and Android. I surely hope so.

WP7 has a great API that gives the .net developers a great chance to create amazing apps. Our company is a Microsoft Certified Partner so we use Visual Studio 2010 Premium, so we have everything we need to start developing apps. If you’re not a partner or you don’t have MSDN Subscription you can download a limited version of Visual Studio 2010 for free. The WP7 SDK is also free, so everyone can start developing apps.

Microsoft has a huge developer community so if/when WP7 becomes a success, there will most likely be a large quantity of useful apps to buy/download in Marketplace.

Certification process

Just like on iPhone (and Android I suppose) there is a certification process for releasing you app to the Marketplace. From what we learned at the seminar it takes about 3-5 day to get your app approved (or most likely rejected at first).

The certification process consists of both automatic and manual tests made by Microsoft. Apparently they are very strict and you must follow the UI guidelines to be able to get your app approved.

Even though Swedish users can’t buy apps, they can distribute and sell apps in the Marketplace. To be able to buy an app you must have an American or British credit card.

Demos

Dag König has released two apps on the Marketplace; Trafiktitt and Trafikofon. They are free of charge so Swedish users can download them to their phones. Dag showed us parts from these apps’ source code and also started a new solution and developed a rough version of Trafikofon. It was very interesting and the coding was very familiar.

Dag’s last demo was a Push Notification demo. We learned how to register the app with a service and later on letting the service push updates to the phone. Push Notifications is one of the things I love most and the feature is a vital part of the OS.

What’s next for us?

We just begun testing WP7 development at Mindbite, and we will continue to gain insight in WP7. If or when the phone gains a larger market share we will be able to develop apps for our customers.

Closing comments

Windows Phone 7 is a great and beautiful Phone OS that gives the existing developer community a chance to create stunning apps and make money. It’s sad that Microsoft jumped on the train several years to late. But I hope they learned something and that they will start releasing updates that will make the phone a competing product on the already tough market.

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