Tag Archives: Windows Phone

DDD North 2 – Windows Phone agenda app

I’m hoping that the DDD North 2 Windows Phone agenda will make it into the marketplace in time for the event on Saturday!

I did manage to get the app certified in time, however a last minute agenda change forced another upload! I *will* make a start to a generic version on Monday, honest!

If it doesn’t, and you have a developer unlocked phone, please feel free to download the .xap file. You can use the Application Deployment tool to side-load it on to your device.

Download and side-load the .xap file!


DDD10 Windows Phone Agenda application

I am pleased to announce that a Windows Phone version of the DDD 10 agenda as just cleared certification. It’s likely to be available during Wednesday 29th August. [Update: it’s here]

I have submitted an update to take into account changes that were made to the agenda over the last few days; hopefully that app update will make it through in time for the event itself!

I know I said it last year, but I do hope to add some features to the next version that will make it pull updates down from a web-site, thus removing the need for agenda updates to require a rebuild and re-submission to the Marketplace. With any luck, the DDD North agenda app will be the first to enjoy some updates.


Results: Windows 8 devices & app development survey

Earlier this month, I ran a Windows 8 – devices & app development survey.

I asked four simple questions:

  • Do you intend to purchase a Windows 8 device?
  • Are you planning to develop your own “apps” for Windows 8?
  • Is your employer planning to develop ‘tablet’ apps for Windows 8?
  • Thinking about ‘tablet’ devices – what is important to you?

During the first two weeks of August, the survey was tweeted and re-tweeted. As such, it attracted enough attention to provide some very interesting results. 200 people responded within the first week of August; another 80 during the second week. I’m now in a position to share the results…having spent a “little bit” of time working out how best to display the data! Turns out Microsoft Excel was the answer all along!

Thanks are due to Matt Baxter-Reynolds for his input and contribution towards the design of this survey.

QUESTION 1 – Do you intend to purchase a Windows 8 device?
The answers on offer were:

  • Yes, I plan to purchase a device as soon as it’s available
  • Yes, I plan to purchase a device next year
  • Yes, I plan to purchase a “Windows RT” device this year and a “Windows Pro” device next year
  • Perhaps
  • No, I have no plans to purchase a device this year or next

Between now and next year, 61% of respondents are planning to purchase a device capable of running Windows 8.

36% plan to purchase a Windows 8 capable device as soon as it’s available. From what information is available at the time of writing, this device will be running Windows RT; it may or may not be a Microsoft piece of hardware though. Personally, I see the Windows RT device as something that I can have on the arm of a sofa. It’s not a device I plan to spend a lot of time “working” at, but a device that I will use for short periods of time on a regular basis. It may well be the device that we use when travelling, something to keep us connected in hotels, etc. It’s unlikely that a keyboard will play a major part in its use, although it may well be used if it’s part of the cover.

20% plan to wait until next year before buying into Windows 8. Like most things, some folks prefer to wait until a device / platform has been established before making their investment.

5%, myself included, plan to purchase a Windows RT device and a Windows Pro device. I am hoping the Windows RT device will be the device that is kept in the lounge, on the arm of the aforementioned sofa. The Windows Pro device I hope to be able to use in place of a laptop. I would like to be able to use it at conferences, as organiser, as attendee and as a speaker. By that virtue, I would like it to have sufficient performance to be able to run Visual Studio and the like, i.e. it should be able to “achieve” where many netbooks have tried and failed.

17% are considering their options when they responded with “Perhaps.” This is fine. Whilst Microsoft would love it if we all rushed out to by their devices running Windows 8, it’s understandable that many folks will want to wait and see how the devices and the operating system turn out.

22% do not intend to purchase a Windows 8 capable device.

QUESTION 2 – Are you planning to develop your own “apps” for Windows 8?

The answers on offer were:

  • Yes, I am already developing software for Windows 8
  • Yes, I plan to start developing software for Windows 8 this year
  • Yes, I plan to start developing software for Windows 8 next year
  • Perhaps
  • No, I have no plans to develop software for Windows 8

63% of respondents are either developing software for Windows 8 or have plans to do so between now and next year. Do remember that it is possible to develop Windows 8 software without actually owning a device. Whilst it is possible, developing Windows 8 applications on a tablet-like device itself is probably an extreme, most respondents will use meatier development machines.

25% are already developing software. I would imagine that this pot included a number of Windows Phone developers who are busy porting their “apps” over to Windows 8. The programming model is very similar; so much so, one might consider the Windows Phone model a subset of the Windows 8 model. However, I would also expect this 25% includes those developers who have downloaded Visual Studio 2012 (in it’s pre-RTM releases).

31% are planning to start developing software during the course of this year.

7% are planning to develop software, but not until next year.

15% are sitting on the fence and might develop Windows 8 software.

22% are fairly clear and have no plans at all. In many ways, there is no obligation to own a device in order to develop apps for it. This has been proven in the Windows Phone space; students at the University of Hull have published apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace that were developed using the Windows Phone emulator attached to Visual Studio 2010. I expect that some of the 22% of respondents have gone on to answer the remaining questions with that in mind.

QUESTION 3 – Is your employer planning to develop ‘tablet’ apps for Windows 8?

The answers on offer were:

  • Yes, definite plans for off-the-shelf products
  • Yes, definite plans for internal use
  • Yes, definite plans for off-the-shelf products and internal use
  • We are planning to run a pilot/investigate further
  • Perhaps
  • No plans to develop Windows 8 apps
  • I don’t have an employer

21% of respondents are planning to develop ‘tablet’ software for their employers, whether it is for off-the-shelf or internal use only products. 12% are looking to develop off-the-shelf products, 3% are building for internal use only and 6% are targeting both. Internal use only development seems rather low, 3% equates to 8 respondents.

18% plan to run a pilot study. In the corporate world, this is a fairly normal thing to do. It is likely that some of the percentage points will convert themselves in to “Yes” responses as the pilot projects prove themselves. Equally, some will become “No” or may be put on the back-burner to “Perhaps”.

21% are sitting on the fence and might consider developing ‘tablet’ software if their employer asked. This is a demand driven approach – if clients ask for tablet-based software, many firms will weigh up the pros and cons of such a development venture. Given that Windows 8 devices have the ability to run applications that are built using Visual Studio, firms with a bedrock of Visual Studio development expertise may well find a new market has opened up for them. And it is a low-risk market at that – if the developers know the tools, there’s no cross-training to Objective-C (Apple devices) or Java (Android devices).

33% of “corporate” respondents have no plans to develop ‘tablet’ software. This ties in with Questions 1 and 2, where we saw 22% of respondents answer “No”. It stands to reason that some respondents may not have employer or may not be looking to develop software for their employer.

7% of respondents did not have an employer. This answer was included largely to provide an “out” for this question. I did not want the “No” vote skewed when folks reached this question, I would rather have the 7% broken out than have it bundled in with the 33% of “No” responses.

QUESTION 4 – Thinking about ‘tablet’ devices – what is important to you?
Question four was a “tick all that apply” style of question. It was added to gather sentiment towards slates / tablets.

The results are not very surprising: a device that is quick to power on, doesn’t cost the Earth and can run for a long time would be an excellent design goal. Having plenty of “apps” available is also a good design goal – it appears that people want to be able to use their devices “right out of the box”; we can perhaps infer that also means “right out of the box at launch“. This is not a bad thing: Microsoft are being very proactive and are rallying the developer community such that they might develop Windows 8 apps before the launch date in October. And that’s not all: there is a steady stream of DevCamps covering Windows 8 development, Azure, Windows Phone and the Web.

High up the list, at 45.1%, “Availability of free software development tools”. In keeping with earlier releases, Microsoft has Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows 8. With the exception of any membership fees that developers must pay in order to submit apps to the Windows Store, Visual Studio Express won’t cost you a penny. If you have an MSDN licence, the membership fees are waived for the first year.

Lower down the percentage points, we see a reasonable drop from 28.5% down to 13.4%.  Screen size, Flash support, packaging and colour appear to be the less popular options.  The problems of the Nexus 7 packaging did not seem to ruffle any feathers in this poll, only 6.5% of respondents were keen on easy access packaging! Looking at everything from 28.5% upwards, the specification for current Microsoft hardware devices hit all of these percentage points. I am sure we can expect to see many third party hardware manufacturers using these percentage points as differentiators in what promises to be a heated lead up to Christmas 2012.

Only 9.7% of respondents expressed the need for Flash support. With HTML 5 becoming ever more prevalent, many web-sites are moving away from using Flash. Plus, it would appear to be the subject of a rather emotive debate that involves some rather choice language!

Colour choice does not seem to be a deciding factor in this survey, 5.1% equates to 14 respondents. Elsewhere, colour is number 9 (out of 10) on Debra’s list of 10 reasons I can’t wait to get a Microsoft Surface tablet! Colour choice is probably useful if you have more than one similar looking device at your disposal. It also provides choice to the fraternity of folks who complain “I don’t like black”. That said, my wife loves her Nokia Lumia, despite the fact it’s not the right shade of pink for her (it’s magenta wasn’t the correct answer it seems!)

I am happy to update this post with your thoughts, please note them in the comments below.

Next Steps
If you are thinking about developing software or apps for Windows 8, find your nearest DevCamp! They are a great place to meet like-minded developers and your local Microsoft Developer Platform Evangelists (DPEs)!

Windows 8 development
Windows Phone

Gill Cleeren on Windows Runtime & Metro Apps for Windows 8 and Windows Phone App Development

Scottish Developers are pleased to present two talks by Gill Cleeren on Wednesday 23rd November 2011 in Edinburgh.

Gill Cleeren is Microsoft Regional Director (www.theregion.com), MVP ASP.NET, INETA speaker bureau member and Silverlight Insider. He lives in Belgium where he works as .NET architect at Ordina. Passionate about .NET, he’s always playing with the newest bits. In his role as Regional Director, Gill has given many sessions, webcasts and trainings on new as well as existing technologies, such as Silverlight, ASP.NET and WPF. He also leads VISUG (www.visug.be), the largest .NET user group in Belgium. He’s the author of the upcoming book called Silverlight Data Access Cookbook. You can find his blog at www.snowball.be

Building a Windows Phone 7 app from start to finish
Have you been dreaming about browsing through the Windows Phone Marketplace and seeing your application at the top-selling list but don’t know where to start? In this session, we’ll take a look at how to build an entire Windows Phone 7 application from the very start to deployment in the marketplace. You’ll be creating your own apps minutes after you leave the room.

Windows Runtime and Metro Apps for Windows 8
At BUILD 2011, Microsoft announced Windows 8. This upcoming version of Windows is probably the biggest change the OS ever went through. Windows 8 focuses on web, apps, touch and the tablet form factor. For developers, things will change as well. They need to be ready to build applications, called Metro applications, tailored for Windows 8 or adapt their existing applications for the new OS. Together with Windows 8, Microsoft announced Windows Runtime (WinRT), a new way of working with Windows.

As you can see, that’s a lot of new stuff to get your head around! To help you, Gill Cleeren, Microsoft Regional Director and Silverlight MVP will explain you the new strategy that Microsoft is taking. In this talk, we’ll see what WinRT really is, how we can use it to build Metro applications with and how we can leverage C# and Silverlight knowledge to build Metro applications. We’ll take a look at a fully working application as well to give you a clear picture of all the knowledge you’ll gather during this hour.

By joining this session, the developer story for Windows 8 will have less secrets for you!

The Corn Exchange,
35 Constitution Street,

18.30 – Doors open
18.55 – Welcome
19.00 – Building a Windows Phone 7 app from start to finish
19.55 – Break
20.05 – Windows Runtime and Metro Apps for Windows 8
21.00 – Close

This is a free event, but you do have to register!

Now, 2011, is a great time to move into Windows Phone development

Earlier this week, over at The Guardian, Matthew Baxter-Reynolds essentially asked the question: Where do the Windows Mobile developers go now?

Except that the article was actually called Why Android is the natural alternative to Windows Mobile for developers. The strapline for Matthew’s article added a little more meat to that statement: “When Microsoft killed off Windows Mobile, it left would-be developers with experience in its tools who wanted to build ‘line-of-business’ apps with a problem: what could they target?”

Matthew’s article covered many topics. It touched on:

  • fabrication of Windows Mobile and Android devices
  • line of business application development using the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone
  • patents
  • BlackBerry and RIM

It’s a well-written piece and I would urge you read it and Matthew’s other material.

I’d like to focus on one small piece of Matthew’s article. Specifically the piece about Windows Phone:

Windows Phone is also a pain because no one has them and no one (yet) wants to buy them. I believe this will improve when Windows 8 hits the market next year, but until then it’s difficult to pitch to customers. Plus you would think migrating software and apps from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone would be easy. It’s not, because of the radically different Silverlight-based user interface model. Windows Mobile is .NET-based and Java-esque.

It is fair to say that much has been written [during 2011] about the uptake of Windows Phone devices. The phone manufacturers [HTC, Samsung, LG, etc.] must be furious with the way the phone carriers [the likes of O2, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Orange, Three] have failed to market their Windows Phone products. It wasn’t until I was at DDD North on the 8th of October 2011 that I saw more than one Windows Phone device in the same place. In fact, as @scottisafool noted, by virtue of there being a handful of Windows Phone devices in the same place, it put many High Street stores and supposedly phone-savvy supermarkets to shame.

Every market has to start somewhere. Windows Phone is the new kid on the block and it has moved into a block that’s already very well established; current residents include Android, iOS and to some extent BlackBerry. Given that major pundits are referring to Windows Phone as the third member of the mobile ecosystem, I believe it’s fair to follow Matthew’s recommendation to ignore BlackBerry. Unless RIM have an ace up their sleeve, I have to agree with Matthew.

Despite this apparent low uptake, it hasn’t thwarted the application developers. As of today there are some 35,000 applications in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Many of the reputable news sources for Windows Phone report that about 90% of the core apps and games that “the others” have on their iPads, iPhones and Android tablets are available for Windows Phone devices. Whilst that suggests the market is pretty much sewn up, there are still gaps that need filled. Contrast this with the fact there are over 500,000 applications available for iPhone and Android devices and it’s fair to say Windows Phone has some catching up to do. Assuming, of course, that you believe catch up is required. One has to ask how many of the 500,000 or so applications are unique or are so trivial that calling them an application is an overstatement.

Nokia’s presence in the Windows Phone ecosystem should not be under-estimated. Rumours about their device line up have been rife. Leaked photographs of their proposed Windows Phone device(s) have been published, analysed and analysed again. This weekend, October 21st and 22nd 2011, TV viewers in the UK started to see subtle hints from Nokia, the Sea Ray made very short but pointed appearances between adverts in major shows on Saturday evening. This advertising, albeit very short, is very welcome. Windows Phone marketing has been beyond disappointing, a fact that cannot be denied and a fact that isn’t UK-specific. I would hope that advertising picks up as we get closer to Nokia World, October 26th 2011, when Nokia’s devices will be revealed to the public for the first time. Nokia have the ability to produce, market and sell millions of devices. In Europe, they are virtually independent of any particular demographic: kids, teenagers, housewifes, workers / business users, pensioners, the military…they all use Nokia devices.

Whilst Matthew believes no one has them [Windows Phone devices], he does believe that people will want to buy them in the future. And that’s the key: the future. The future for Windows Phone isn’t 12-18 months away, or further. It’s between now and Q1 2012. It’s now. Microsoft’s careful approach, whereby they built Windows Phone version 7.0, used customer feedback to refine it with NoDo and subsequently with Mango, mean they have an operating system that is a first class citizen in the mobile space. It can compete, and win, against the likes of iOS and Android.

Windows Mobile developers will continue to have their market in line-of-business applications for as long as there is demand and device availability. Where should they turn to next? Matthew believes that Windows Mobile developers should be focusing their future development efforts in the Android space. I have to disagree with that thought! The Android market is saturated. Android is an operating system that suffers from considerable fragmentation; there are many versions of Android, spanning major version numbers, still in use today. Examining the various platform versions, I see there are only a few flavours of Android that are “accepted” as primary development targets, which is a step in the right direction. Even if you target the three major versions of Android, the open source nature of Android means that developers might find themselves having to work around issues that are very device-specific.

Windows Mobile developers will find themselves moving from Microsoft’s .NET platform over to Java, which is means moving away from Visual C++ and the Visual Studio IDE. Thankfully, the existence of third-party tools such as MonoDroid, allow us to write C#/.NET code that can be deployed to the Android platform. However getting started with MonoDroid will cost you at least $399, which is very much worth it if you wish to avoid entering the Java camp. On the plus side, once you’ve written your application, it can be submitted to the Android Store and available for sale within hours. Ultimately, moving from Windows Mobile to Android should be considered a complete platform change: all of the tools, software development kits (SDKs), frameworks and deployment targets have changed. You could be buying into a whole new set of problems.

Windows Mobile developers who are considering a move to iOS are in for a similar surprise. Apple’s iOS relies on the Objective-C programming language. I won’t go into Objective-C in this post, but if you need to read more, there’s good content in this article over at The Guardian. Whilst iOS developers don’t suffer from Android’s OS fragementation, they do suffer from Apple’s lengthy application submission process. I’ve heard some developers say the application submission process can take weeks. I’ve also heard that Apple can reject applications without providing any reasons as to why the rejection occured – I believe Apple have gone as far as to ignore some Google application submissions! Not surprisingly, tools such as MonoTouch exist, whereby we can write C#/.NET code that runs on iOS. If I was developing for iOS, I’d be seriously considering the $399 cost for MonoTouch. Again, moving from Windows Mobile to iOS should be considered a complete platform change and one that may have a significant cost attached to it.

Contrast Android and iOs with the Windows Phone modus operandi. Windows Phone applications can be developed using a tool that Windows Mobile developers should be reasonably familiar with: Visual Studio. Windows Mobile developers have been used to working in a managed code environment for some time now and they are particularly comfortable with the Visual C++ language. Windows Phone development will mean developers use their choice of C# or Visual Basic – this shouldn’t be a major undertaking as it’s not a complete platform change. Windows Mobile developers should have a good grasp on the .NET framework. The move from Visual C++ to C# is, in my opinion, fairly painless. Yes, they will have to contend with a new deployment target, however it’s not a case of “all change” as it would be for Android and iOS, developers get to stay in the overall Microsoft ecosystem. And or course, the Windows Phone development tools are free, which is always good.

Many businesses are already allowing Windows Phones to form part of their device portfolio, whether the device is on the corporate asset register or simply owned by an individual. Once the consumer market opens its mind to the fact there are alternatives to Android devices, iOS devices, BlackBerry devices, the business space will see similar such uptake. Consumers have day-jobs, they don’t want to find themselves using a state-of-the-art Windows Phone device to manage their personal life and then to have to use a candy bar to make phone calls in their corporate life. Nokia used to be in the candy bar market, especially for corporate customers…I still have a Nokia 6021 gathering dust! Ironically, I carry a Palm Treo 750 (Windows Mobile 6) instead of the Nokia 6021. I also carry an HTC HD7 Windows Phone – it’s my personal phone. The HD7 gets more use than the Palm does – putting Windows Phone aside, the screen size makes it so much more useable.

Whether Windows Mobile developers choose Android, iOS or Windows Phone, they will still find themselves building their line-of-business applications using a new user interface metaphor – gone are the small buttons and stylus-inspired Windows Mobile user interfaces. Windows Phone, like the iPhone and Android is all about touch, sliding, pinching and tapping. Despite the ease at which I believe a Windows Mobile developer could pick up the Windows Phone development environment, it’s not the main reason I believe that they should move into Windows Phone application development. The ease at which a Windows Phone application can be developed is certainly a very important reason, however it’s not why I’ve written this article.

The primary reason is the exponential growth that we are about to see in Windows Phone uptake, particularly in the consumer space. As noted earlier in this article, during the week leading up to Nokia World, the commercial UK TV channels carried a number of subtle adverts. Even today, Monday 24th October, the free Metro commuter newspaper carried an advert for the HTC Radar – granted it could have done with having more than a “cake” on the screen, it could have showed off the OS! Assuming Nokia World proves to be the catalyst that Windows Phone needs and deserves, Q4 2011 and Q1 2012 are going to see massive uptake in the Windows Phone space. Demand for Windows Phone applications is going to go through the roof early next year, 2012. We need to be developing applications to meet that demand and we need to be doing it now. Rarely do we get a moment like this, we have six months notice that good times are coming: action, now! The Windows Phone market needs you!

So, you see, now, 2011 is a great time to move into Windows Phone development.

Windows Phone Camp – 12th November 2011 – Edinburgh

If you are a developer looking to start developing for Windows Phone, but you haven’t yet taken the plunge, this free day of training is the quickest way to find out all you need to know. You’ll get all the information you need to get up to speed with Windows Phone in a packaged and compressed form, ready for your consumption, without having to trawl through books, blogs and articles on your own. There will be experienced people available to guide you through a series of hands-on workshops and tutorials, allowing you to work at your own pace and select what is most useful for you. Once you have the basics in place, you’ll be off and running and ready to develop your own apps.

John McIntyre Conference (Microsoft Event)
Edinburgh First
Pollock Halls
18 Holyrood Park Road Edinburgh EH16 5AY
United Kingdom

12 November 2011

Further Info:

DDD North Agenda – coming to Windows Phone…

DDD North LogoI’m pleased to announce that I’ve written my first Windows Phone application! It’s not an application that will land space shuttles or control your orbiting satellites, however it’s a first step! It’s a small application that will save you carrying around a printed copy of the DDD North agenda!

I had a false start last week, whereby the application didn’t meet Windows Phone Marketplace regulations, for a reason I won’t mention here. On the premise that the regulatory infringement had nothing to do with my code, I’m expecting the application to hit the Marketplace this week.

I’m planning to extend the application to be more generic such that it will handle future DDD events, whether they have two tracks, three tracks or however many tracks, etc. And, of course, I’ll be recompiling the application for Mango…at some point during the Fall or Holiday season.


If you have one of those other devices, one of the DDD North speakers has produced a similar “app” for their platform! I’m sure that “apps” for the green fruit vendor’s device are also available!

Smartphones: unbalanced exposure? [Part 1 of 2]

In my last post, I was singing the praises of Windows Phone and the devices that it’s installed on. This post is going to serve as a brain dump of my thoughts relating to smartphone marketing, as I see it in the UK. It seems so unbalanced, it seems to favour specific devices, platforms and device providers.

Since it’s launch, Windows Phone has picked up significant momentum such that it is a very credible alternative to the other black slab smartphones that are out there. I’m not planning to use this post to share huge amounts of “market share” information with you, there are plenty of sites doing that already, some better than others. However, what I do want to get off my chest is the unbalanced advertising that I see for the other black slabs. Everywhere I turn, I see full page spreads offering me ‘droid devices, ‘berry devices or the “i” device. Around about the launch of Windows Phone during late 2010, I did see some newspaper adverts, however they seem to have all but dried up.

So what’s the deal? How do the phone vendors and carriers decide which devices to promote? I’ve heard that in the US, staff that sell a particular device receive additional commission. I can’t imagine it’s much different here in the UK. However, since it’s always the ‘droid devices, the ‘berry and the “i” devices that are the subject of such huge promotion, it makes me wonder how Windows Phone devices will ever reach the mainstream. I’m fairly hooked into the developer community and I know that there is a lot of excitement in the Windows Phone application development space. What can we do to take that excitement and enthusiasm for the device out to the consumers?

That leads to my next question, are the phone vendors and their staff geared up and armed with sufficient knowledge to sell Windows Phone devices? If they are receiving a higher commission for selling a ‘droid device over a Windows Phone device, why should they skill up on Windows Phone? All they have to do is convince the customer / punter that the ‘droid device is the device they are looking for. The playing field has to be levelled if there is to be genuine competition. The phone vendors need to play a major part in balancing their pitch point and they need to ensure that their staff are given all the necessary training to be able to compare, contrast and sell Windows Phone, ‘droid, ‘berry and “i” devices.

The key draw of the application logos in the cutting below is clearly there to capture the social audience, those with an interest in online shopping and the casual mobile gamer. Windows Phone can do all of that; it has an official Twitter app, an official eBay app, an official Facebook app, Amazon and of course the much-played Angry Birds. So why does this particular advert need to use an array of five non-Windows Phone devices? Both adverts in this post carried the word “free”, yet also had a monthly cost of £15 or £25 attached. There is the obvious irony of “here’s something for free, that will cost you ££ per month”, however that’s not for discussion here!

Choice is important in the marketplace, so why offer such an array of devices, yet limit the actual choice of phone operating system? I’m confused, I’m looking for answers and I can’t find them; well none that don’t involve money in some way.

Perhaps this is what the marketplace actually wants? Is today’s phone buyer driven by much little more than the knowledge the device is the right colour, it looks good and it can run Facebook and Angry Birds? What does the competition really look like? Are we looking at an underworld of competition between Apple, Google and RIM? Looking at the vendor sites, it certainly looks like it’s a tight market with directed competition. I really want to see Windows Phone succeed and make its way into the “top 3” sooner rather than later. However, until the phone vendors and carriers iron out their competitive issues, I think it’s going to be a struggle.

Of course, Microsoft’s partnering with Nokia should provide a means of getting Windows Phone devices in front of vast numbers of consumers, certainly in Europe. I understand that Nokia have built bridges with the carriers in the USA, which does bode well for market penetration over there too. Nokia are well-known in Europe, they’ve recently ordered a couple of million devices, which suggests that they mean business. One would hope that with the might of Nokia, its existing distribution infrastructure and its need to succeed in the smartphone space that we’ll see some serious competition for the “i”, ‘berry and ‘droid devices that are omnipresent in the newspaper adverts.

I’m keen to hear what you have to think about this subject, please feel free to comment. Thanks in advance!

In the meantime, ignore the phones above, the Windows Phone devices below can run all of the big name apps, games and tools!

And there’s all this other Windows Phone swag at Amazon too!

40 days and 40 nights with #WindowsPhone 7

In July, I finally gave in and won a bid on eBay. I rarely win bids on eBay, apart from the ‘buy it now’ variety, but that just equates to online shopping. I had been bidding on Windows Phone 7 devices, not thinking my bid would actually be considered good enough to actually win the goods. Of course I won the goods and had to pay up. I became the proud owner of an HTC HD7, two batteries, a desktop dock, car cradle, a carry case and a clean install of Windows Phone 7 (build 7392).

Moving to Windows Phone 7 has been an excellent move. I feel more organised, at least when I’m on the move (I can’t say that my primary e-mail inbox is anything to gauge that statement on!) The device integrates itself with Facebook. Some folks say that’s a bad thing, it certainly hasn’t proven to be a problem for me. Being able to “link” contact records between the Facebook and any number of e-mail accounts is a real boon. Couple that with the de-duplication feature in Windows Live, no longer do I have to see multiple contact records for the same person.

Windows Phone 7 also lends itself to getting your contacts sorted out, once and for all. I had contacts in Outlook (both at home and at work) and on a Nokia handset. After “some” effort, I was able to get all of my contacts into my Windows Live account. Most of the hassle that I had during this process was down to the Nokia PC Suite software – a product I will never need to see again, ever. After a little bit of tweaking, I was able to get my personal Outlook calendar and contacts synchronising with the phone. Importantly, I was also able to get my corporate Outlook calendar synchronising too.

Prior to the HTC HD7, for corporate use, I had been using a couple of Nokia devices, a 6021 and a 7230. Both were “candy bar” style devices, one was a traditional black’n’white device, the other had a colour screen with a slide out numeric keypad. For personal use, I was using a Palm Treo running Windows Mobile 6.1. Now that I am running the HTC device as my personal phone, the Nokia devices have been retired…the corporate SIM card is in the Palm Treo. The Palm Treo is used as a phone and for managing my corporate inbox, although I do use the HTC device for this purpose too.

I am very impressed with the operating system and the device itself; here are my seven favourite Windows Phone 7 features, so far:

  1. I never need to see a duplicate contact card again
  2. The Metro styled user interface is very clean
  3. Live Tiles – active content, such as “number of unread e-mail items” or “number of unread text messages”
  4. Next appointment, date, time, unread e-mails, voicemails and missed calls “on top of the curtain” (when the phone is turned on, the curtain is down – the screenshot on the right demonstrates the curtain)
  5. There is a camera button on the phone. This is great for getting the camera application running without having to power on then tap on a couple of icons to get to the camera.
  6. It’s fast. Very fast. What with all the animations that are going on, you might expect some drag. I find the whole phone experience very snappy.
  7. Its simplicity and its wealth of configuration options. Each of the tiles that you see in the screenshot above (the curtain is up) can be turned on or off. Applications and ‘people’ can be pinned to the home screen as a tile. Pinning family members to the home screen is particularly useful, two taps and I can be sending a text or returning my wife’s calls.

So I am a convert, I’ve joined the smartphone fraternity. I am pleased that I resisted the temptation to jump on the “i” or the “‘droid” or the “‘berry” bandwagon. If you’re in the market for a new device, I would urge you to go to your local store, push past the array of “other smartphones” and hunt out a Windows Phone 7 device. I’m so enthused by the device that I’ve signed up for the developer programme – I’ll be taking my .net development experience from the desktop and the web over to Windows Phone, apps coming soon!

All of this Windows Phone 7 “goodness”, gets even better with the Mango update that should be shipping during “the fall” of 2011.