LAS VEGAS -- We were promised more answers at MIX10, and now we're getting them. Microsoft this morning announced its developer tools for Windows Phone 7 Series.

Front and center is Silverlight. The Silverlight 4 Release Candidate is now available, "which will enable developers to create and deploy even more robust applications and rich interactive experiences." It finally brings what was born as a Flash alternative to the mobile space -- and not just as another way to view content in a browser. Silverlight's a major player here, folks, along with the XNA framework that's already been discussed.

Developer tools are free, including Expression Blend, and a preview of Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express is part of the download. What, you're not up on your Expression Blend? It's a "development workflow tool which includes features such as Path Layout to enable developers and designers to build and animate innovative UI design via ground-breaking visual layout mechanism, without the need to write code. The beta also supports Silverlight 4, .NET Framework 4 and Visual Studio 2010." Think of it as more of a visual tool, rather than coding line by line.

Windows Phone Marketplace replaces the Windows Marketplace for Mobile (finally, Microsoft manages to find a shorter name for something), which brings "a new merchandising tool that will enable developers and designers to bring applications and games to market and increase the discoverability of applications with customers while supporting one-time credit card purchases, mobile operator billing and advertising-funded applications."

There's tons more to come this week, and we'll dive deeper into things as the week progresses.