updated 12:40 pm EST, Sat March 6, 2010
Microsoft says WP7 to have broad app base
(Update: unified Windows/Xbox gaming added) Microsoft on Friday outlined some of its hopes for Windows Phone 7 in an interview (viewable below). The company's Charlie Kindel argues that third-party app development for the Silverlight-, Windows CE- and XNA-based is "very easy" and has already shown off some of the first non-default apps for the platform. Flashlight, level, and weather apps have been shown and, in the case of the level, have direct access to the phone's accelerometer in a way not possible with Windows Mobile 6.
The discussion with CNET also brought up the question of third-party app availability by WP7's late 2010 launch window. Kindel made it evident that there should be a significant number of apps available by the time the phone is ready, suggesting an SDK for the new OS should be broadly available soon. Windows Mobile has long had a development kit but has been partly hampered by the switch to Windows Marketplace, which forced app developers to resubmit and modify apps; considerably fewer apps are available on the platform versus the total software base.
While Microsoft has previously tried to downplay software by claiming that apps aren't important, the Redmond, Washington-based developer is known to have been hurt by the runaway growth of apps on Android and iPhone and to be eager to provide a similar experience. The aging architecture of Windows Mobile, along with app portals that until Windows Marketplace often had low royalty payouts, has led some teams to either write for the Apple or Google platforms at the same time or else to switch over entirely.
Update: Microsoft's Eric Rudder has also shown how cross-platform XNA development can be by showing a game at TechEd Middle East that's playable on Windows 7, Windows Phone 7 and the Xbox 360 (video at bottom). It primarily switches controls and notably keeps the player's progress between platforms.