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Announcing the new Windows Phone 8 Developer Platform (windows.com)
63 points by TazeTSchnitzel 1846 days ago | hide | past | web | 50 comments | favorite

It wasn't totally clear to me what tools you'd get if you joined. After a bunch of clicking I found this:

"The Windows Phone SDK 8.0 is a full-featured development environment to use for building apps and games for Windows Phone 8.0 and Windows Phone 7.5. The Windows Phone SDK provides a stand-alone Visual Studio Express 2012 edition for Windows Phone or works as an add-in to Visual Studio 2012 Professional, Premium or Ultimate editions. With the SDK, you can use your existing programming skills and code to build managed or native code apps. In addition, the SDK includes multiple emulators and additional tools for profiling and testing your Windows Phone app under real-world conditions."

Obviously you need Windows 8, too.

Unless I've missed something, you don't need Windows 8 at all. Could you point us to that requirement?


To verify, I downloaded the installer and tried to run it on a Windows 7 machine. I got an error message stating Windows 8 was required to run it. I am definitely surprised that they decided to go this way; there's no way in hell I'm going to upgrade my windev machine to Windows 8 just to develop phone apps. I assume there are many other developers who feel the same way.

Windows Phone 8 is based on the Windows 8 kernel and shares plenty of technology with it. The SDK emulator and debugger use client Hyper-V on Windows 8 to run the phone as a guest operating system, which isn't available on Windows 7.

That's actually pretty cool.

Why? Windows 8 isn't as bad as people think, speaking as a developer using it just now. If you only use the Desktop, you'll be fine. You can search the homescreen the same way you searched the start menu in Vista, and it works as you'd expect.

Why would I change my OS to develop for a phone ecosystem that nobody I know uses? I can develop the Windows applications I need to just fine on Windows 7. Then I don't have to do anything differently. I'll just continue _not_ developing for Windows Phone 8.

Oh come on guys. If you're serious about developing for the system, installing the new version of the OS or buying a $99/year subscription is really not a big deal. If all you want is to fiddle around with it for a bit, then it doesn't really matter that you're not going to develop for it.

Don't get me wrong; I develop primarily for iOS and some Android, and don't even think about installing Windows, much less developing for it. But consider this:

If you want to develop for iOS, you need a Mac (which still sits at only 14% in US, less in the rest of the world; so chances are you need to buy at least a $600 machine), you need the developer subscription at $99, you need at least last year's operating system (Apple drops support for older versions rather quickly), and at least one device to test on. It also uses Objective-C, which you haven't used before unless you developed for Apple hardware.

If you want to develop for Android, everything looks free at first sight, but you'll also need a developer subscription and if you're serious about supporting your app, you'll need at least several different devices (this easily trumps the price of a Mac), because Android emulators are horrible.

There are more examples like this; recently Sony announced PSVita SDK, but for some inexplicable reason it uses Mono/C#, isn't compatible with Visual Studio, etc. It's even worse with traditional console SDKs.

The point is, although it's great to be able to choose the tools/platforms you use and have it all for free (web development anyone?), those companies want you tied into their ecosystem, and besides it's just not worth it going out of their way to please a minority of developers complaining about a number of random reasons.

You choose whether to develop for a platform or not of course, but if I were Microsoft and your main gripe was having to upgrade to Win8, I'd just not care.

Any developer that has concerns about upgrading their Bare OS should install Windows 8 into VMware Workstation 9. It's fully supported - http://www.vmware.com/products/workstation/new.html.

Will client Hyper-V on Windows 8 for the phone emulator work if Windows 8 is itself a guest OS?

Hyper-V has been added as a guest OS, but it is not "supported", so YMMV:


One of the first things I checked as well. I was really hoping I could work on Windows 7. :(

You also need a developer account ($99) to debug your apps on a device.

Which is currently available for $8 (for the next 8 days).

Microsoft left it so late for developers to get on the platform. The consumer announcement was yesterday, the developer summit was in June! Yet there's been no SDK until today. Even Apple releases a number of beta's for developers. The first Windows Phone 8 devices will be released in a matter of days.

All of the people that bought Windows Phone 7 devices (even if it was last month) won't be able to run any of the apps complied for Windows Phone 8 because it's core is based on Windows 8.

How do you expect your dedicated user-base that for years has been complaining about slow hardware and a lack of apps while the iPhone, GS3, etc has been blowing up to react? All of the current Windows Phone users are not going to buy a new phone to make their current phone, that they purchased six months ago work. They're going to pickup and iPhone 5 or a Galaxy Note. They have a core base of users that are passionate about Windows Phone, many of those I know are leaving.

Having spoke to startups that have apps on Windows Phone, most of them have been paid by Microsoft to hire a developer to build it and aren't going to be updating it. Unless Windows Phone got a huge lift in traction but the chicken and egg problem is stopping them and all of these old apps have to be rebuilt for Windows Phone 8.

I followed the links and .NET applications are also compiled AOT before being made available for download.


Saving phone battery power (JIT was done on the phone every time an app started) and using green energy no less!

"With the new code generation approach in Windows Phone 8, apps are compiled in the Windows Phone Store with AC power generated from the Columbia River in Washington. That’s a better battery to use than yours! As you can see, we’ve removed an entire category of battery use on end-user devices."

This feature seems like such a no-brainer. Ngen (Native Generation, .NET's precompilation) has been around for years.

This is different, because NGEN can only be used with strong name assemblies that get deployed to the GAC.

This feature on the other hand, means that you already get a native compiled executable, compiled with much better optimization algorithms than what NGEN offers.

This isn't NGEN (it's a similar concept of course, but the tools and details are different).

$8 registration fee for the next 8 days, instead of $99

But oddly enough, you pay $99 first, and get $91 returned in 'the next 30 or 45 days'. Why not charge $8 in the first place?

They just mentioned that they're working on updating the page right now on build live, I think.

I'm disappointed to see that there is no option for students to waive the entire fee. Microsoft does this on the Windows Store (students get a free year), so it would only make sense to carry over to Windows Phone 8.

Of course, that would require actual inter-department consistency at Microsoft. And we all know how impossible that is.

"To become a member you need a valid credit card, PayPal account, or promo code. Students with a verified DreamSpark account can register for free. "

From the registration page.

This works even if you are not a current student as long as you have a valid e-mail address from your college/university.

Yikes, looks like I didn't investigate quite far enough. Thanks for the information :)

I registered as a student (via DreamSpark) for a WP7 developer account back in december 2011. My account is about to expire in a month. In the meantime I received an email (january 2012) about a DreamSpark account migration. (Which is said to make my DreamSpark account active for another 12 months) - I haven't done the migration process yet. I am curious will this let my WP7 developer account be active for another year? Or should I just create a new account taking advantage of the 8$ fee?

If this is true I'm definitely jumping on the bandwagon. I can afford 8$ for the first year to test the market. I have a lot of ideas I wish to mesh into Windows Phone applications. :)

Now, the market lets people from my country, Bolivia, create applications but do I still need a credit card to pay? Can I use a direct wire transfer or moneygram?

I hope this question gets answered, but what is the best place to start if you're a *nix person and are considering developing for Windows (Phone) 8 but want a better understanding of the mechanics of application execution? This is for example if you wanted to develop your own language runtime, or compiler tools. For example on Linux, you'd discuss ELF objects, the _start symbol, dynamic linking, the XCB library, etc.

When I think of Windows I feel overwhelmed with all these terms that mean nothing to me, like WinRT, C++/CX, and seemingly infinite ways of accomplishing the same thing in different and incompatible ways.

Learning about the Portable Executable Format is a good place to start:

- http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/cc301805.aspx

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portable_Executable

This might not answer your specific question about creating your own compiler tools or language runtime, but Microsoft's msdn.com is a great resource for Windows programmers. The documentation under the Learn tab gives some in-depth information, and there are code samples available to read through in each of the languages (and showing you how to do the same thing in multiple languages). When in doubt, the community forums are generally helpful.

Visual Studio Express is free and has all the MSDN knowledge baked in, as well. There's a start in getting to know the features and specifics of each language as well as the Runtime as a whole.

I just can't get excited about developing for Windows anything these days. And mind you, I've been using PC's almost exclusively for a very long time. Somehow, somewhere MS lost it's way. Some might argue that it never had a "way". That's fine. I don't care. I've made a lot of money using MS products and the Linux world probably wouldn't exist without the commodity hardware created by the MS ecosystem. Credit where it is due.

It's hard to argue with the assertion that MS has failed to be a thought and technology leader for a long --long-- time. And so, when they roll out Windows Vista, 7 and then 8 and then Metro and Windows Phone 8 and they keep, well, fucking it up...

I am not in love with Apple. Not by a long-shot. They are user-friendly and developer-hostile. And they make dumbshit moves of monumental proportions too (Maps, anyone?). Still, for a new or even an existing venture, I can't see considering doing mobile development much outside the iOS ecosystem.

In other words, in order to gain real traction and find a market it is a no-brainer that you should develop the app/service/product for iOS. Somewhere in the adoption curve it might make sense to deploy to Android and a far, far distant third might be WP8.

What would MS have to do to change that sentiment? I don't know.

On the tech front I really do like the idea of my phone, tablet and desktop playing nice with each other. Or having mountable file system access to my phone and tablet. But that's a geek thing. Grandma doesn't give a shit. She doesn't even know. So, I'll count myself out as a "typical customer" --whatever the hell that might be.

Market penetration might be the key here. Nobody, outside of tech circles --and barely at that-- is talking about WP8 or MS tablets. The Surface commercials I saw are retarded, to say the least. To take a stab at my "what can they do?" question, I'd say: They have to fire their entire marketing department and bring fresh thinking into the organization. The technology is probably good-to-excellent.

EDIT: An example of the brain-dead marketing is the commercial that spends tons of time highlighting the desktop stand flap on Surface. Really? You (MS) really think that you are going to get me to buy Surface over iPad because of a frigging plastic flap? Fire them all! They are a bunch of morons.

They've enjoyed market supremacy for so long that they've never really had to be good at marketing. It's the old "You don't get fired for buying IBM" saying from the mainframe days. MS has always sucked at marketing. Apple has always owned them on that front. Now Apple makes a dumbshit move (Maps, anyone) or two and neither MS nor Google have any semblance of a fine-tuned marketing drive to take advantage of it.

So, when faced with such marketing incompetence I, as a developer, look at the situation and conclude that I have to stay with the company that is better at selling. If you are good at selling you can sell pet rocks. If you suck at it you are selling polished gravel. The quality of the rocks doesn't matter.

It's not a chicken-and-egg situation. It is a very clear market dominance and financial-risk situation. I have zero interest in taking the financial risk to participate in an offering that is marketed, sold an supported in a half-assed fashion.

So, yeah, great Developer Platform. I'm a business man. Show me the market opportunity and I'll carve code into stone tablets in hex if it is worth my while. Anything else is just bullshit.

I've heard this argument against the Surface ad, and it really only came from developers. As far as I know, the reception has been pretty positive about the commercial. The purpose of the commercial is to build awareness about Surface, and I think it does a pretty good job at that. Remember, there are commercials specific to Windows 8 that explain the OS and how it works.

I understand. As an engineer it is easy to focus on things that are completely irrelevant to end-users. I get it. I've done it and will probably do it again. However...

The commercial in question has a bunch of college-age folks dancing around a table while flipping the stand open and closed. I can't, for the life of me, imagine any consumer understanding what they are being sold. If the MS name or logo wasn't in the ad one could very well think that it is a cool iPad case.

I happen to think that it is completely ineffective. I've done lots of marketing for my own products, both hardware and software. Rattling off (or showing off) features is a loosing proposition. Techies might get off on that at some level, but Grandma does not.

What does Grandma or Uncle Fester want to know?

  Can I surf the Internet with it?  
  Can I take pictures?  
  Can I look at my pictures?
  Can I email?
  Can I watch movies?
  Can I connect it to my PC?
  Can I connect it to my TV?
  Will it break if it falls?
  How long does the battery last?
  Does it run standard PC software?
  How much does it cost?
  Can I expand it?
  Can I connect a standard keyboard to it?
  Can I connect a standard mouse to it?
  Can I connect my photo or video camera to it?
  Can I print from it?
  Can I have multiple user accounts?
  Can I make it safe for my kids?
  Can I secure my personal data?
  How do I back it up?
  Can I share my apps with other devices/computers I own?
  Does it become a hot-spot?
  What built-in apps does it have?
  How good are the maps?
  Can my kid use it for school work?
  Will it blend?
  and more...
I have yet to see a commercial that answers any of these questions. Instead, we see a magnetically attached keyboard and a desktop stand. Really? I wonder how much that creative effort cost. I still hold the position that MS hires morons for marketing. The local butcher could do a better job with a little training.

It's almost like the brilliant scene from "My Cousin Vinny":


What does Grandma or Uncle Fester want to know?

If you actually pay attention to Apple adverts, and then look at Apple's wild success- well, looking at the two together, I can only surmise Grandma and Uncle Fester want to know how (Apple thinks) the product will make you feel. Any nod to features is merely coincidental.

Really, I notice time and time again- us geeks seem to be completely out of touch with what makes for the most effective marketing to everybody else.

It is about communicating features and benefits but not in bullet form. Apple does this very well. The early ipod silhouette ads communicated tons of stuff with a a silhouette dancing to music while using an ipod. I could make a list of the features that were communicated in thirty seconds but I suspect almost anyone who saw the ads could.

I think that the key here is to communicate the RIGHT features and benefits. That's why I am so down on the Surface ad I saw. I truly thought it was moronic. What the hell were they communicating? I asked my non-tech (Doctor) wife if she wanted one and the answer was: "it's just an iPad with that stand thing".

Which makes my case. All MS managed to communicate to my wife was that they have an iPad with a built-in stand "thing" that she couldn't care less about.

Exactly. You hit the nail on the head.

I'm in the same boat- Microsoft's message feels like it's "Hey developer- come make apps for Windows and help us take back the market!". The thing is, I don't feel much love for them or have a strong desire to help them re-establish their monopoly.

I fear that if Microsoft does dominate a market again, it'll just get bored and let it rot (IE 6, Windows Mobile, etc).

I wrote WP7 apps. I can't justify paying $99 once, let alone each year for the privilege of developing for a fledgling platform.

The fee is $8 for the first year right now, but note they still charge you $99 and refund the difference in 30-45 days.

At $8, I thought it was worth a punt and decided to sign up. Alas, I cannot complete the process as it gives me an error each time I try to submit the payment information.

Only if MSFT got their sh!t together..

So, I ran into this problem -- found out that you have to have the same password on the developer center as you do for your Windows LIVE account. If you have a more secure (or just different) password on the former (e.g. because you have a grandfathered Hotmail account) then you need to change both to be the same to finish the registration process. I suspect that there's some hokeyness in the back-end where the developer center logs in to your Windows LIVE account to mangle something or other.

Not sure that'd be accurate for me since I logged into the dev center using the live account I have (non-hotmail).

I hate this trend. Why should I develop a native app for _ platform? On my startup, our initial approach of both iOS/Android right at the start proved to be dooming simply because there was way too much to juggle between platforms for us to iterate on features. This is why we chose to focus on iOS for the next iteration, at least till we found market fit.

As a developer, or even as a startup, why should I give a shit about Windows Phone 8 platform? More work for a remarkably small market share. Unless all I'm looking for is to be a platform leader, but that's another story by itself.

> Why should I develop a native app for _ platform? .... This is why we chose to focus on iOS for the next iteration

You just made the argument for the web. I'm curious, why didn't you refocus there?

That's not argument for the web. By choosing web you in fact develop for neither platform. And it shows.

As someone who's never worked in the Microsoft development world, is a "Dev Center" account what one needs to publish apps to the MS Store, or is this something else?

I have an interest in playing around with WinPho/Metro apps, and if dropping $8 now means I can push anything I create to the store, then this is pretty appealing.

Yes, Dev Center is where you publish and manage your applications for WP/W8.

I tried creating my account because I read that it was possible to pay using PayPal, but on the final checkout screen under payment options I can only see Credit Cards listed. Is it because I am from Bolivia? Can anybody in the US or Europe double check for me?


Same thing happened to me, for registering a Dev Center account and purchasing Windows 8 Pro. I'm from Vietnam. It's similar to other gateways (like Facebook), they only accept PayPal payments from a limited number of countries...

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