My company recently started the process of switching to Exchange and as part of the process I am beta testing Windows Phone 7 devices for them. At the time of writing this article, I’m using the Samsung Focus. The started me off with the LG Quantum which was a pretty abysmal device. It was heavy and the screen quality just wasn’t up to par with even the old BlackBerry Bold 9000 I was using previously. I had heard a lot about the Windows Phone 7 platform through a number of tech websites, but I was really surprised at how great the platform really was once I got my hands on it.
The OS is extremely snappy and the phone is incredibly responsive. At first I thought it was just me, but everytime I showed the phone to my friends and colleagues they would also comment on how quick it was. After browsing through the list of available apps on the Windows Phone marketplace, I started thinking about what apps I wished were available… I realized that there’s already a really great start to some of the more mainstream apps (Netflix, Maps, Facebook, ESPN, Twitter, etc), but there’s definitely some opportunity for improvement.
I decided to look into what it would take to develop and app for Windows phone and realized that it looked pretty easy and the barriers to entry were fairly low. The Windows Phone developer tools are completely free and include everything you need to get up and running. I downloaded the tools from the App Hub and got started with my first app (Visual Studio, etc). One thing to note is the developer tools allow to fully run and test your application in the Emulator that runs on the computer. If you want to run the application on your phone or deploy it to the App Market (to make money), you’ll have to pony up $100 for a App Hub license. A nice thing about the license is it enables you to unlock up to three devices so you can test on more than just your primary phone.