Oct 312012
 

As the BUILD conference (formerly PDC) kicks off in Redmond, we are finally treated to the official launch of the long, long awaited Windows Phone 8 SDK.

Held under wraps for months, with precious few copies of the pre-release being seen, this SDK has been a long time coming.  The only way to get an early look at the unfinished SDK was through hard core NDA agreements, and even these were strictly limited.  One copy leaked onto the Internet, but it was extremely early and offered very few insights into the platform itself.

The official reason for delaying the SDK?  It was held back due to sensitivities around “unannounced features” in the Windows Phone 8 platform (which the SDK ROM image would give away).  At any rate, from today we all finally get a look in at what the future holds for apps development on the new Windows phone platform.

To jump straight into the SDK, check out the What’s new page on MSDN.  If, for some weird reason, you’d prefer to read some marketing hype around the platform, perhaps have a read over here at the Windows phone site.

Finally.. Download the SDK

Aug 062012
 

Well it’s been leaked onto the world wide web for a bit over a week now, and I’ve finally managed to devote some time to taking a look at what’s been included in the leaked SDK.

Although we’ve been waiting for what seems like forever to see something of the new, highly anticipated Windows Phone 8 platform, the key to the puzzle – the SDK – has eluded the Microsoft developer community for a long time.  No longer!

Some notes up front:

  1. The SDK will only unpack and install on Windows 8 (Release Candidate, and presumably on the RTM next week) – no support for Windows 7!
  2. The SDK requires Windows 8 as it relies on the next generation hypervisor technology (the same as Windows Server 2012) which requires SLAT (second level address translation) support from the computer’s CPU.
  3. Whilst you may install the SDK on a computer which does not support Hyper-V and SLAT, you won’t be able to run the Windows Phone 8 emulator.

    finished

  4. You don’t need Visual Studio pre-installed.  The SDK ships with the Visual Studio 2012 IDE included, but will only support Phone development (none of the advantages of the full Visual Studio, obviously).

That leaves us with developing for Windows (formerly named Metro) 8 Style UI applications, which we’ve been told will run without any changes on the Windows Phone 8 platform.

That’s a fair bit of trust..  In the meantime, I need to find a machine with a newish CPU (one that supports SLAT).  So there will be more to come – stay tuned.  Next article, I’ll take a look at the Developer licensing and what comes included in the SDK.

Aug 022012
 

As reported across the globe, Windows 8 has officially gone RTM as of August 1st.  The official release date schedule shows when you might expect to get your hands on the new version:

  • August 15th: Developers will be able to download the final version of Windows 8 via your MSDN subscriptions.
  • August 15th: IT professionals testing Windows 8 in organizations will be able to access the final version of Windows 8 through your TechNet subscriptions.
  • August 16th: Customers with existing Microsoft Software Assurance for Windows will be able to download Windows 8 Enterprise edition through the Volume License Service Center (VLSC), allowing you to test, pilot and begin adopting Windows 8 Enterprise within your organization.
  • August 16th: Microsoft Partner Network members will have access to Windows 8.
  • August 20th: Microsoft Action Pack Providers (MAPS) receive access to Windows 8.
  • September 1st: Volume License customers without Software Assurance will be able to purchase Windows 8 through Microsoft Volume License Resellers.
  • From 1st January 2013 onwards: Trial editions expire.

With general availability from October 26th.  Coinciding with the August 15th date is also the release of Visual Studio 2012 RTM which includes the next version of the .NET Framework (4.5) and presumably sometime after that we might also get the Windows Phone 8 SDK.

Expiry Dates

There’s some conjecture about when the Release Preview and Consumer Preview versions will expire.  Here’s an accepted answer from SuperUser:

To get the expiry date of Windows 8 consumer preview, you should run winver either from the search function in the source menu, or simply run the command from "run"

This will open the "About Windows" window, which will show the version and expiry date of the Windows CP install.   Source

enter image description here

 

Summary

It’s going to be a very interesting month ahead, and once the RTM copies have shipped, check back here at Sanders Technology (or dzone.com) for more details on both Windows 8 and Visual Studio 2012. 

Alternatively, there’s plenty of documentation and reviews of the pre-release builds; so there’s never a bad time for some professional development!

Now we’ll just have to wait for the first service pack… just kidding.

Jul 102012
 

Word today from Redmond is that the much anticipated next version of Microsoft Windows – Windows 8 – will be released to manufacturers (RTM) in early August, 2012.

Given how stable and far along the Release Candidate (RC) edition has been, this should come as no big surprise.  What will be interesting is to discover what changes will be made between the RC and the RTM version.

Also, it was mentioned in forums and in other places that the next version of the Windows Phone operating system (Windows Phone 8) would also ship at the same time.  Given that the hotly anticipated Windows Phone 8 SDK hasn’t been released yet, that doesn’t leave a big window for developers to start targeting the new phone platform.

Stay tuned for more on Windows 8.

Jul 082012
 

A double feature – two related posts in the same day!

The Essential Question

Following on from my earlier article on setting up a development environment for Windows Phone 7 development, the next obvious question to answer is: “what to build?”.

Never has there been a more appropriate time to ask this pivotal question, given the recent announcement of the Windows Phone 8, scheduled to be released around the time that Windows 8 (the Operating System) is due to launch.

Some Background

There’s a well documented gripe amongst the community at the perception that Microsoft has abandoned Silverlight; this seems to somewhat hold true. 

Conventional directions appear to send people away from Silverlight if they wish to adopt the Metro style interface. [ http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh465136.aspx ]

Yet, from the forums [ http://forums.create.msdn.com/forums/t/106054.aspx ] comes this quote from Mark Chamberlain [Microsoft]

All Windows Phone 7.x applications will run on Windows Phone 8, and the new Windows Phone 8 developer tools will support building applications for Windows Phone 7.x. This includes both Silverlight and XNA applications. Thus, application developers who wish to target both 7.x and 8.0 phones can build for 7.x.

I’ve attempted to find some concrete answers on what way to best design and build a Windows Phone application which will embrace the new phone and benefits which come with it.  Wisdom states that Silverlight is probably not the horse to back at this stage. 

What To Target?

Here’s some details about what to expect in Windows Phone 8:

Windows Phone 8 programming technologies include:

  • Windows 8 Metro UX (WinRT API) technology (if you are familiar with WP7 Silverlight app development, it is an easy transition to learn this).
  • DirectX/C++ native code development, for apps or games. You can port across pre-existing DirectX applications.
  • Standards-based HTML5 programming which can be surfaced in the app via the Web Browser control or as a web page using IE10

The key statement on the forum is this one:

An app built for 8.0 will not run in Windows Phone 7.x, but an app built for 7.x will run in Windows Phone 7 or 8.

Which means that you will be forced to decide whether you want to take advantage of the new functionality in Windows Phone 8 (thus abandoning Windows Phone 7) or to develop two different code bases (targeting WP7 and WP8 respectively).

Developers building applications using XAML/.NET will be able to reuse substantial amounts of their business logic code across Windows and Windows Phone

If you were to build for both WP7 and WP8, then it might be time to look at the Visual Studio 2012 Release Candidate.

Should you decide to target Windows Phone 8, it might be a good idea to wait for the Windows Phone 8 SDK which is rumoured to be released in late July 2012 (i.e. not too far away).  It seems inevitable than if you wish to build a Windows Phone application, you’ll want to upgrade to the latest development tools.

Visual Studio 2012 Release Candidate

image

Based on the above, I’m going to start looking at options to target Windows Phone 8 (in isolation) as well as options for a Windows Phone 7 and 8 dual target build.  The latter is probably going to be the most feasible in the short term, while we wait to hear about the next Windows Phone SDK.

A Look at the Release Candidate

Without the Windows Phone 8 SDK, it’s a little hard to know what to do right now, but the logical place to start is to have a look at the Visual Studio 2012 Release Candidate.  It’s a sure bet you’ll need it to any traction with the Windows Phone 8 SDK when it is launched.

I’ve previously done a quick review of the Release Candidate here.  Despite my better judgement, I’ve decided to install the RC on my primary laptop.  I’ve been previously burned by issues in upgrading to RTM editions from pre-release, so this is a calculated gamble.

July RC Update

While we’re at it – don’t forget the July patch which has been recently released.  [ http://www.microsoft.com/en-au/download/details.aspx?id=30178 ]

Product Comparison

Windows Phone development appears to be supported in all versions of Visual Studio 2012:
[ http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/11/en-us/products/compare ]

However, as of this writing, there’s no native support for Windows Phone applications in the current crop of Visual Studio 2012 RC editions. It’s likely we’ll have to wait a month for the SDK to come out. Check back in late July for more details.

Obligatory Rant

Here’s the kicker – yet again, Windows Phone development is the poor cousin in the developer tool community.  It is, again, a separate installation (via the SDK). 

It’s actually very poor form from Microsoft to continually ostracise the Phone developer community by not including Windows Phone as a component of the Visual Studio 2012 product proper. 

As if Windows Phone developers haven’t felt enough pain in recent years, with the continual dropping of support for legacy projects (yes, I’m talking about Windows Mobile editions that were dropped from Visual Studio 2010).

Conclusion

So the short answer is.. stay tuned.

References

Migrate/port a Windows Phone 7 app to a Metro style app
[ http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh465136.aspx ]

Recapping Windows Phone 8 developer news
[ http://windowsteamblog.com/windows_phone/b/wpdev/archive/2012/06/29/recapping-windows-phone-8-developer-news.aspx ]

Status update: Windows Phone 8 Developer Tools (2012.06.21)
[ http://forums.create.msdn.com/forums/t/106054.aspx ]

Visual Studio 2012 Release Candidate
[ http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/11/en-us ]

Visual Studio 2012 Release Candidate July 2012 Patch
[ http://www.microsoft.com/en-au/download/details.aspx?id=30178 ]

Visual Studio 2012 Product Comparisons
[ http://www.microsoft.com/en-au/download/details.aspx?id=30178 ]