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Brandon Watson of Microsoft: highlights of his live Q&A on WP7

Brandon Watson, Microsoft's Director of Developer Experience hosted an online question and answer "backstage" event on the official Windows Phone 7 site yesterday.

The questions were mostly geared for developers, but even you non-programmer types will be able to make heads and tales of the conversation. We have to say, Brandon seems to be a stand up guy and he was more than honest in answering questions, not using typical PR language. Plus he was pretty darn entertaining (watch for his "joke" 46 mins in).

For those who want the gist, we've summed up the 60 minute talk below:

  • Final version of developer tools will be available "months" before final release of hardware. Plenty of time for developers to feel comfortable.
  • New builds of WP7 developer tools every month or two
  • Developers: Do expect access to WP7 phones! More info coming soon...
  • Hundreds of thousands of downloads of WP7 dev tools already
  • 2 million C# developers in the US  --> all potential WP7 developers
  • If you're a competent Silverlight developer, you should be able to build WP7 apps in just a few hours. (But read this -Mal)
  • 3rd party apps won't be able to use email attachments
  • No support for in-browser Silverlight at this time, didn't make the cut
  • Business experience was not "main concern" with this initial release; consumer UX was (Translation: business focus coming later -Mal)
  • Rejection of apps will feature a bullet list of things to fix to get it in, no vagaries (Clear shot at Apple's policies -Mal)
  • OEM applications can't multitask either
  • No restriction on programming tools as long it compiles down to their common language runtime (C# only, more languages later)
  • Socket support for WP7 will come later but is not in initial release. (Hint: those are need for Skype -Mal)
  • Markets of availability have not yet been announced (i.e. U.S. release vs. Europe)

Watch the whole thing here, it's good stuff. (Registration required)

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • Sounds good to me. The bit about new dev builds every month or two is a key and should be a good sign to many I'd say. If they can get into this 2 month update cycle with the OS and adding new features and APIs, that's good with me. It's the whole 6month thing that'd probably irk people. Having to wait too long for minor things doesn't make sense. Big updates or features are one thing, but if it's just opening up some lower level APIs to devs or adding support for something else, even app updates like for MIE, then those should come faster or as soon as they're ready to go.
  • from what i hear, a recent os to android has messed up how people have set-up their devices. so, let's hope those much desired incremental os updates we want in winpho7 work more like the apple experience than what's happening with android.
  • I dunno, sounds like I might be going Android soon... No copy and paste
    No multitasking
    No removable storage
    No silverlight
    No flash
    No filesystem access
    No way to change default programs
    "3rd party apps won't be able to use email attachments" If I wanted a phone like that I'd get (or would have already gotten) a previous-generation iPhone. Just as Android and iPhone are catching up to Windows Mobile in terms of functionality, MS decides to "just say no" to all of the best parts of their old OS.
  • I think your bullets misrepresent a couple of things. "No silverlight"; umm, the whole device is built on on and around Silverlight. Last I checked Android doesn't do Silverlight in-browser either, so how you can hold that against MS is beyond me "No flash"--Probably not on launch but MS and Adobe are working on bringing that to the platform "No copy and paste", "no file system access" "no multitasking" these are all things MS has said they will take a look at/address in later versions of the OS--like what Android and the iPhone have done (Android ONLY got decent after 2.0, that's just a given) "no removable storage" is just false You're really missing the main point here. MS has built an excellent foundation for an OS. All the things that are missing right now they will come back to with updates in later versions. So while on 1.0 it may be limited, that's NOT their plan for the long run and to suggest otherwise is a bit unfair.
  • I agree with you 100%. MS has said time and time again that things are going to come in updates. When you have a deadline you need to meet there will always be some feature(s) that don't make it in. The OS isn't set in stone at RTM though. We don't have to wait till WP8 to get them. I expect most, if not all of the things people keep bringing up will be addressed with updates through 2011. I expect WP8 in 2012 actually, that fits with the 2 year OS cycle MS has always gone for. So late 2012 is my bet.
  • I know it's built on Silverlight, but you'd think they'd be able to get their own technology into the browser. Sure they are going to bring flash support in the future, but Android has it now. And, sorry, but I'm a bit skeptical of buying a device and counting on upgrades from MS in the future. With Windows Mobile, there are little nagging issues that have gone unaddressed for years. I know this is a whole new platform, but given that all we have to go on is Windows Mobile, I don't have a huge amount of faith in their ability to make everything OK with future upgrades. So wait, now WP7 will have user-removable SD cards? And, sure, it's "unfair" to hold them to these standards. But do you think the buying public will give a crap about fairness? When the first iPhone came out I didn't say, "Well it's a solid foundation, and to hold them to the same standards as the established competitors is unfair, so I won't." No, I laughed at how locked down and lacking in features it was. My point is that they are entering a very competitive space here and, sure, we can give them a pass and commend them on their effort, but aren't most people just going to compare them to the iPhone and Android, regardless of OS version? To be honest, I like the foundation they have here but I wish they didn't copy the patented Apple totalitarian iron fist method. This is coming from a pretty satisfied TP2 owner, by the way. Also, I'm annoyed that we can't sideload apps, either.
  • "And, sure, it's "unfair" to hold them to these standards. But do you think the buying public will give a crap about fairness?" You think the buying public will notice or care? Both Android and the iPhone both had as much if not more limitations than WP7 as at launch, yet both sold well. So sure, *you* might skip WP7 but the buying public? If you have a strong, simple UI and it "makes sense" to use, they'll buy it, regardless of limitations. The market has proven that already.
  • So glad to hear that I came off as entertaining and a stand up guy. The PR folks told me that I was too subdued from my usual self, so you guys only got maybe 80%. Next time I will let loose. For those who don't want to register to see the video, I have posted it to my blog. We love this kind of public discussion, and believe me, we are listening and processing. @Malatesta has it right - we have a list of things that we want to get right, and that list is small. We'd rather do a few things really well, then try to do a bunch of things and do them wrong. Keep the discussion rolling...
  • "I want one!" :) And I cross my fingers, and hope the rumors about these becoming available for us developers before the "official launch" of Seven! Is really something else to test out my apps on a real device...especially location aware apps. Is of course possible to simulate most scenarios in an emulator...but nothing really compares to standing outside and see it all work seamlessly on a real-life-device.