back to article Windows Phone 7: free tools, captive Marketplace

Microsoft aims to lure Windows Phone 7 developers with free tools. That's the good news. The less-good news is that Redmond plans to lock down the platform à la Apple's App Store. These revelations were part of Microsoft's baptism of the development platform for Windows Phone 7 on Monday at the Mix10 conference for web …


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  1. Giles Jones Gold badge


    All those WinMo fans moaning about Apple's controls on applications can now shut the hell up, Microsoft can obviously see the value of controlling the platform.

    As for the free dev tools, why now? it wasn't so long ago that Microsoft provided free dev tools for Windows Mobile then withdrew them.

    1. ChrisC Silver badge

      I'm not laughing...

      As someone who's used the "it's the user who's in control" argument in support of WinMo over the iPhone in recent years, I'm finding it damn near impossible to conjur up any level of interest in upgrading to a WM7 phone when my current WM6.1 device decides to call it a day - jumping ship to HMS Android is looking more and more like the only upgrade path open to me...

      "As for the free dev tools, why now? it wasn't so long ago that Microsoft provided free dev tools for Windows Mobile then withdrew them."

      Indeed, I was rather annoyed that MS didn't provide any free dev tools for WM5/6, given that it was only with the release of WM5 devices that the hardware capabilities interested me sufficiently to want to put in the time and effort to learn how to write WM apps - back in the days of candybar WM phones and the EVC++ toolkit, I never got any further than Hello World... And now the free tools make a return just as all that was good about WM5/6 is thrown out the window - bah :-/

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Palm. Not So Bad After All

    Taking into accout what a cklusterf*ck it is to get root access to an Android and the even worse situation on the JesusPhone and Windoze7, Palm becomes attractive.

    They allow you root access to the underlying Linux without any crap.

    1. rfdparker2002

      Ah, but...

      What you appear to forget is that every Android device (with the apparent exception in the US of AT&T's first Android device) let's you just tick one box, after which you can install any .apk you can grab off the web or throw on the MicroSD card; on top of that the Android Market is completely open in the first place. By contrast, you can't install anything from outside the App Store on the iPhone (and seemingly FailMo7) without jail-breaking.

      And in respect to getting root access, which is only really useful when you're wanting access to some normally not-so-accessible hardware (such as to have USB or WiFi tethering, or use the flash of the Nexus One as a torch...), it really depends on the device you're using. Back when I rooted my G1, it was by going back to an older Android release and exploiting a vulnerability in that in order to replace the validation key against which updates were checked with a community one. With the Nexus One by contrast, you just send it a command over USB, and your presented with a special Google-created screen that warns you that you'll void your warranty, asking whether you want to continue - after this the boot-loader is unlocked, and you can flash something like CyanogenMod, which have root access out of the box (including a sudo-like application to assure applications can't abuse root access)..

      As clever as WebOS is, I somewhat feel that maybe Palm would've been better with a Palm-ified version of Android (even if Android didn't particularly exist back then...).

      1. Michael C

        Jailbreaking, checking a box, exactly the same.

        Look, Jail breaking is simply an extended version of checking a box to enable 3rd party install. All it really boils down to is the user accepting full risk for the device's stability and security. By making the process more complicated, phone manufacturers simply keep the dumb asses (some of them anyway) from checking a box they have NO BUSINESS checking as they do not understand the risks involved in doing so.

        Apple does NOT block jail breaking. The block companies that PROFIT from jail breaking, and there's a subtle but very distinct difference there. You CAN crack an iPhone for free. Sue to it;s very strong security model, it certainly isn't easy. If people freely distributed the cracks instead of charging for them, Apple would not seek to disable the cracks with each patch, unless of course they find the crack exploiting a bug that could otherwise be exploited by viruses and hackers in which case they're obligated to plug the hole anyway (or risk lawsuit for personal damages from identity theft for failing to either patch of fully disclose the risk to users).

        Per their CONTRACT with providers like AT&T, they can't offer a straight forward unlock tool here in the USA (they do in other countries, and even sell iPhones unlocked direct to consumers). Google managed to broker a better deal. When AT&T's deal expires, other options may become available. It'll never happen on Verizon though (unlocked phones), as Verizon pressures all their distributors into custom firmware and more.

        You can see how well Android's security model is working compared to Apple as there are already numerous nefarious apps, and several viruses in the wild that can target still-locked devices. Many 3rd party and cracked apps contain data pilfering code. The only way to keep an Android phone safe is to buy apps only from the central store, and even then, since they're not directly inspected or controlled, there is still great risk...

  3. Gangsta
    Gates Horns

    Looking forward to this...

    but not anymore.

    There I was thinking of an open platform.

    There's Windows Phone Series 7(or whatever its ridiculous name is?); iPhone OS and Android out the window. Hmm what about Symbian, oh no wait... there's that ridiculous signing process.

  4. Alastair 7

    Re: Palm. Not So Bad After All

    (irrelevance to this story not-withstanding)

    Making it incredibly easy to get root access is NOT a good thing. These days Smartphones are tiny computers, and I doubt it'll take long before people really start taking advantage of this in the world of virus and worm creation.

    There is little-to-no reason for any general user to have root access, so making it complex to get to makes total sense.

    1. BigRedS

      There's fantastic reason for the owner to own their device

      "Making it incredibly easy to get root access is NOT a good thing. These days Smartphones are tiny computers"

      These days PCs are mini computers...

      Seriously, if I buy a device, I want it to be *my* device. This whole idea of whoever happened to make the device maintaining control over what I can and can't do with it petrifies me almost as much as the idea that this model appears to be generally accepted as the right norm.

  5. fishfork
    Thumb Up

    good first step. that's one in a row.

    this is a good step on MS's part. esp if theyre switching platforms (new OS) for their upcoming Win Ph 7 ... which is beginning to look interesting to me. but its only a small first step in getting into the hearts of developers again -- who create apps and content, which helps drive the adoption of a platform. you want a developer to try your integrated development environment and flirt with making an app or two for your new phone? make the dev software free. not trial. not express. free. that way they dont have to get approval from their manager; dont have to go through any procurement process; dont even have to ask their wife. they can download and start in on a tutorial. and if MS's operating system were less expensive too, that would also help.

    hate to bring up the "A" word here, but Apple has had it right for a long time charging $0 for is pretty impressive x-code development environment (included with every Mac sold or download for free) and how much is the iPhone software dev kit that integrates into the x-code dev environment? again, free. oh wait, but if you want access to pre-release beta software for their platforms, well that costs money but still only $99 bucks for an annual membership.

    please, MS please stop being cheapskates and trying to get big dollars (visual studio 2010 is $549 for the _upgrade_ at Amazon). if you want me to develop for you youre going to have to at least do what others are doing to encourage adoption (see: x-code, netbeans, eclipse, all very good IDEs).

    but again, some interesting first steps. and, seriously, kudos for giving it a try.

    1. David Webb

      Did you read it?

      I'm sure you read the article before posting and of course noted:

      "The three tools Redmond is offering are Visual Studio 2010, including a free Express version as well as an add-in for the full IDE, Expression Blend 4.0 for designers, and XNA Game Studio 4.0"

      In other words, MS are giving away an express version of VS2010, as well as EB4 and XNA, that is 2 commercial packages and an express. MS have offered express versions (free) of c++, c#, web developer etc. for a very long time, and for a mobile you really don't require the full bells and whistles version of VS2010 anyhow, you pick your programming language (silverlight, design through EB4/VS2010E) and off you go.

      Of course, if you're a student via Dreamspark you can get the full version of VS as well as develop xbox games for free, and a whole host of other neat software (including server 2008 R1). So, which part of free went over your head?

      As for x-code, don't even get me started on that travesty of an "ide", I'd rather be a victim in Saw 7 than use that pile of junk.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        X-code/interface builder is the least intuitive IDE I have ever used. It might be very powerful but combined with the confusing nature of Obj-C the initial learning curve is incredibly steep.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Xcode fantastic

          @AC: "X-code/interface builder is the least intuitive IDE I have ever used. It might be very powerful but combined with the confusing nature of Obj-C the initial learning curve is incredibly steep"

          This doesn't ring true to me. I've worked with many languages, primarily C/C++ and almost exclusively with C++ for the last 6 years, and I picked up the fundamentals of Objective-C in a couple of hours. Yes, it's different - but not radically so. I found the possibilities opened up by the language to be quite exciting. Confusing? Not at all. The primary hurdle is not the language, but becoming familiar with Apple's application framework, Cocoa - very well constructed, but not something you take on board in an afternoon.

          I work with Xcode and VS every day, and it's always VS that has me wanting to tear my hair out (and yet it's the one I had to pay for!!). Xcode was certainly rough at the outset, but it has radically transformed over the years. It's a very productive environment. I suggest taking a look at the course offered by Stanford University through iTunes U to see all of this technology in action. You might be (pleasantly) surprised.

  6. Phil Rigby


    Ok, open up root on your phone. I'll telnet to it. "rm -rf / " should take care of a few issues, no?

    I'm all for consumer choice but I'm quite happy my Android is locked down. At least I know my chances of being rooted are somewhat slim.

    Why do you NEED root access, really?

  7. Alastair 7


    The Express versions of Visual Studio are surprisingly capable. Certainly within the realms of developing mobile apps, I imagine they'll do everything you need.

  8. Anonymous Coward


    "Ok, open up root on your phone. I'll telnet to it. "rm -rf / " should take care of a few issues, no?"

    Why would socialist workers need Free Speech ? Certainly the Intelligentsia of the Central Committee knows best.

    Red as Communism.

    1. Anton Ivanov

      Quite clearly you do not know how to read a slogan

      The following is my attempt to translate one of the best Russian standup comedians (it sounds better in Russian of course):

      - What did a stupid man do when he saw a motivational slogan like for example: "The Party - the consciousness of our people". He got pissed off. Damn, another nuisance slogan.

      - What did a smart man do when he saw said slogan? He laughed. Because he could read it correctly as: "The Party _MINUS_ the consciousness of our people".

      There is little benefit in getting annoyed that the "Consciousness of our people" have locked your device and is claiming that it is for your own good. Put a minus in front of consciousness and treat it accordingly.

  9. Matthew 4
    Thumb Down


    There is actually NO good mobile platform at the moment is there..

    I'm just going to stick with my xperia x1 for another year until something decent comes along.

  10. IT specialist

    This is WORSE than iPhone

    Windows Phone 7 Series is more locked down than iPhone ever was. Microsoft is controlling everything. Ballmer is quoted as saying that he will not permit any phone network to change the hardwired Bing Button to a different search engine. Google is forbidden. Now, downloading any app you want is forbidden. Naughty apps like War Driving or Stumbling apps will not be allowed. WP7S is a Microsoft walled garden.

  11. Michael 36

    Microsoft apes Apple

    That's a first then.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      RE: Microsoft apes Apple

      I laughed when I read that...

      Then I thought "I hope that's sarcasm and not just another winblows fantard..."...

  12. Dan 55 Silver badge


    Hopefully Nokia will have realised there's a market for people who want to buy a phone instead of pay money to the manufacturer and receive their permission to use one.

  13. Mike Watt

    No Sideloading?

    Sod that then. I did like the look of this platform, especially the Xbox Live integration, but if the store is as heavily policed as Apple's then they can forget it. I'm moving from WinMo to Android next month (already ordered my Desire) and it looks like I'll be staying there for some time.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    "Microsoft aims to lure Windows Phone 7 developers with free tools"

    When I read the phrase "Microsoft aims to lure Windows Phone 7 developers with free tools", I had a vision of MS on the phone to some developers saying "Yeah, these tools are still stupid enough to buy the crap we make..."

  15. Andy 97
    Thumb Up

    That must mean:

    Android all the way then...

  16. Gil Grissum
    Gates Horns

    Copy Apple?

    This is why I didn't buy an iPhone. So why bother with "Windows Phone" if it will just be a sad Apple copy and we're forced to get apps from only one source (WinMo App store). No thanks. Glad I moved on to Blackberry. Maybe I can't stream video from the web, but I can do everything else and Opera mini works without crashing. No thanks, Microsoft. Try some original approach next time. Android is looking better every day.

  17. Imorital

    Second thoughts for WinMo 7 then...

    I understand that MS want to keep app quality high, and the marketplace is one way to achieve this, but they could still allow crappy apps from other sources. Sure it will tarnish the platform image if junk gets released, but if the marketplace became the "go to" place for quality apps then it will quickly establish itself anyway.

    This just doesn't make sense.

    And what about the fact I develop apps for personal use… will they work?


    I wanted WinMo 7, now I feel the lure of Android getting stronger....

    1. Hitesh

      Couldn't agree more!

      I was thinking exactly the same thing . . I have no issue with M$ building an App Store with controlled apps . . but at least allow the freedom for the user to use their own device in the way they want . . those Apple types can use the WM7 platform in much the same way they do their phones at the moment and feel all safe and secure that they apps have been vetted etc . . but at least those of us out there that who want to go beyond the warm cosy walled garden of the App Store should be allowed to . . after all I paid MY money for MY device . . i would expect to be able to use it the way I want. No doubt the WM7 devices will be cracked or "jail broken" (wonder which tool came up with that stupid term) to allow the freedom we are all (except iphone users) so used to at the moment

      Yep Andriod is certainly looking like the only real option in the current market!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will they take a cut?

    So we know if Microsoft will take a percentage out of each sale?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you don't like it... and n900 and stop complaining.

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