If you’re trying to figure out which mobile Microsoft OS to develop with for the balance of 2010, it’ll more than likely depend on whether you’re developing business apps or consumer-focused apps.
For the latter, Windows Phone 7 Developer Tools was recently released. The additions of the Panorama, Pivot and Bing Maps controls have been well received, according to Microsoft, and its partial support for Visual Basic is making news as well. The Visual Basic CTP for Windows Phone Developer Tools was made available on Microsoft’s website.
Templates, designer support, emulator support and IntelliSense for Visual Basic are here, although support for VB.net is not included and there are a few important qualifiers that come with the download.
Microsoft cautions that this is an early-adopter release, so do not expect code developed with it to be ready for prime time, in part because there’s no Go-Live license and users have to be Visual Studio Pro or higher customers. Lastly, developers can build Silverlight apps, but not XNA games.
The OS is slated for release on several smartphones that are coming out in the next quarter, so it’s easy to see that Microsoft designed Windows Phone 7 to appeal to consumers out of the gate ahead of the holiday buying season. It represents the company’s bid to compete with the Android and iPhone, and the user interface and hardware specs are similar to those made popular by the iPhone.
As more businesses are allowing employees to buy their own smartphones and connect them to the corporate server to get e-mail, the companies must comply with strict governmental requirements on privacy and security. Most companies simply set a PIN lock on the phone and allow themselves to conduct a remote wipe of the device in case the employee loses the phone.
From a business standpoint, here’s the rub: Windows Phone 7 isn’t mature enough for business app development; it is missing centralized management and user-security features that are must-haves for large company deployments.
So for now, business app developers are best suited to stay with Windows Mobile, which supports user policy configuration, virtual private networks, protected application access, remote data wipes, automatic software upgrades, and a range of other management functionality.
That said, it doesn’t mean that, down the road, Windows Phone 7 won’t mature to include business customers in the foreseeable future.