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Excited about Windows Phone Development!

Pete Brown - 05 March 2010

I can't wait to get my hands on a Windows Phone to do some real development. If you've read Charlie Kindel's post, you know that the developer story builds on .NET, Silverlight and XNA (among others).

It wasn't always that way, though.

A little History


When I picked up my first Windows CE device, a Sharp Mobilon HC-4000, it was big (like a super fat checkbook), clunky and monochrome. There was no phone support, and no persistent memory (lost my whole checkbook when the AA batteries died). It cost me $1000 at the time, brand new. A color version came out shortly afterwards, but it ran around $1500 as I recall, so I passed.

It did get a lot of attention when I'd open it up at checkout to enter the cost of the groceries I was buying. A little computer like that running a version of Windows was still pretty novel back then.

There were two main form-factors at the time. The clamshell Handheld PCs, and the keyboard-less PocketPC. The sharp fits into the former category, devices like the iPaq - the latter.

When it came time to develop applications, you had VBScript, C++, or some third-party dBase-like database applications. It wouldn't be until a bit later when we'd get the .NET Compact Framework that development actually became interesting to me.

Windows CE handheld PC/pocket PC computers eventually morphed into the current generation of Windows Phone smart phones, but without any real rethinking of the UI. It's interesting to consider that we (the community) used to be pretty excited about devices that were hand-held, but included no cellular radio.

Windows Phone Now


The new Windows Phone is the first in the series to have a UI that has been completely rethought and optimized for the platform and form factor. No mini-Windows with touch-unfriendly menus. No, this is finger-friendly UX from the ground up.

I've invested a fair bit of time learning .NET over the years. I started with the alphas and betas of .NET 1.0, and kept up with each version since. I've also done some native code over the years, but as my recent walkthrough shows, it has been a while. I dabbled with XNA for a bit, primarily with Windows, but also just messing around with my Zune.

Since 2006 or so, I've been operating almost exclusively in Xaml-based technologies: WPF and Silverlight. Those are two technologies I personally believe in, and believe are the future of code-on-the-client for a large class of applications. I'm happy and excited to see that the Windows Phone is going to allow me to continue evolving with those technologies.

I love the idea of using my existing Silverlight / WPF skills to be able to develop for what I bet will be a popular device. Once the developer tools are broadly available, you can bet that I'll be all over it. Silverlight/XNA in a handheld device? Oh yeah!

Oh, and don't even get me started on the courier. I want the super-secret door code to get into that building on campus. As I've said before: It's an awesome time to be a developer :)

Some Windows Phone Links:

PS. Yes, I still have my mobilon. It's in my office here along with some commodore computers and other old tech :)

posted by Pete Brown on Friday, March 5, 2010
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1 comment for “Excited about Windows Phone Development!”

  1. Bart Czernickisays:
    Can't agree more. If the Courier rumors are true that it runs on Windows Phone 7 (Windows CE 6), then you have Silverlight apps that can be deployed on: Desktop, Web, SharePoint, Azure Cloud, Windows Mobile 7 and Courier? Silverlight is like .NET and will find its tentacles across all Microsoft verticals.

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