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First look: Microsoft's sharp new Windows Phone SDK

Windows Phone SDK 8.0 gives developers extensive features, snappier code, lots of help, and the option to code in JavaScript and HTML

By Peter Wayner
November 7, 2012 06:14 AM ET

Infoworld - Was it only six years ago that Windows Mobile was a big part of the cellphone business? That was a time when only programmers thought of a mobile phone as a computer. Now we're heading into the second or third generation of the smartphone, and the little thin slabs are becoming even more complex than the desktop. Do you want to edit a document? Find your way home? Take a picture? Send email? Actually talk with someone? Your smartphone is there for you.

We've come a long way from Windows Mobile and BlackBerry. In the meantime, Microsoft looked into the abyss and realized it had no choice but to match the iPhones and Android mobiles feature for feature. The company clearly spared no expense or effort in building something that offers more or less the same extensive list of features as iPhones or Android smartphones. Then Microsoft tacked on a few cool ideas and its own distinctive style that will lure those who love the mod, '60s look.

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This isn't just a challenge for the programmers inside Microsoft. The Windows Phone 8 platform can't become relevant on its own. A smartphone today needs apps from an app store, and an app store needs developers, and developers need SDKs. If Microsoft wants to ship phones, it will need programmers to work with the SDK and start creating apps.

Microsoft just released the Windows Phone 8 SDK last week. The first thing any programmer will notice is extensive breadth and the depth. It's not just a tool for putting some buttons on the screen. Today's developer must be ready to build a slick user interface that can work with the various roles of a smartphone.

Windows Phone 8 languages and runtime The good news is the new version of the SDK includes extensive documentation written with plenty of detail for you to explore as you poke around all the different ways you can build a Windows Phone 8 app. There are hundreds of good examples, though even that might not be enough to cover everything we'll need to learn to work with the SDK. Microsoft thoughtfully includes a separate forum where programmers can write requests asking for new examples and vote for other people's requests. This is a smart feedback mechanism that should help Microsoft develop what the programmers really want to use.

Originally published on www.infoworld.com. Click here to read the original story.
Reprinted with permission from InfoWorld. Story copyright 2012 InfoWorld Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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