Native-code access "on the radar" for Windows Phone developers

We have what looks like great news for current and potential Windows Phone developers. Now that Microsoft has made great strides with Windows Phone 7.5, they appear to be turning their attention to native access for developers, at least in some form. Up till now, developers have had no access to certain aspects of the OS, including telephony, codecs, graphic engines or deeper file access. Reasons for such restrictions were thought primarily to revolve around OS-stability and security. Now, Microsoft seems to be seriously considering opening up some native code to developers--either as part of a reconsideration of the policy or perhaps just being able to focus on implementation.

Stemming from a discussion on the Microsoft WPDev Feedback site, one of the most requested features is native development. In a subsection titled "How can we improve the WPDev application platform?" a suggestion of a Native SDK is sitting in the 4th spot with 1,000 votes. The thread is quite revealing as devs discuss how the current  limitations of the platform are hurting their work. One example comes from an iOS developer who states "I want to do DSP on WP7. My DSP algorithms in Tunepal (my app) take fractions of a second on IOS and Android (written in C++) and about 10 seconds to run on WP7." Likewise, others discuss the need for 3rd party gaming engines e.g. Unreal or Unity, both of which are currently not allowed in the OS.

Cliff Simpkins, Senior Product Manager for Windows Phone 7, posted a response to the native SDK request and didn't pull any punches:

"...we are interested in providing developers with more options to develop great apps for Windows Phone, and native is one item that is high on the radar."

The goal of his post, dated just three days ago, is to solicit specific feedback on what exactly developers want most e. g. C++, third-party gaming engines, etc.. As he points out, while it would be nice to give developers everything, Microsoft is on a fixed schedule needing to prioritize any such opening up of the platform. Clearly Microsoft would need time to develop the SDK, APIs and do what they do best which is make premium, easy to use developer tools. Putting that aside, it seems quite clear that Microsoft wants to open up the platform to developers, resulting in more feature-complete apps and games for consumers.

Microsoft's only hesitation at this time seems to be:  What parts do you want now and what do you want later?

Source: WPDev Feedback/User Voices; Big thanks to Amir, for the tip!

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.