Windows Phone 7 predictions from a Window Mobile developer

With Mobile World Congress in Barcelona only two days away, I feel like making my “predictions” for Windows Phone 7. If nothing else, then so that people will have something to throw in my face (yeah right – it’s so i can gloat of course).

First let me take you back: One of the first things I noticed about the Windows Mobile 5 / Compact Framework combo was how weak the graphics system was. As usual I created a layout in Photoshop, assuming that stuff like basic transparency and gradients would of course be available. Years later I have spend countless hours trying to wrangle Compact Framework Forms applications into something good looking / user friendly. At some point you just realize it’s too much effort and half resign.

Why this talk of Compact Framework?

The scaled down .Net framework and with it the C# programming language is in my opinion the thing that sets Windows Mobile the most apart from other competing platforms. From a developers point of view. The combination is powerful, yet so easy to use. And since it’s (pretty much) no different then it’s desktop counterpart, it’s accessible to huge amounts of developers.

The underwhelming graphics capabilities in Compact Framework is one of the reasons why I stated looking to other platforms.

The iPhone has a lot of graphics power. The API’s are mostly old school C style and hard to work with, but it should be obvious to anybody that boy can you get the job done. Though compared to C# I find objective-c less then a joy – and XCode really can’t hold a candle to Visual Studio.

On Android, the API’s are Java. It almost feels like home. Things are not quite as fast as on the iPhone because of the more .Net like Dalvik virtual machine approach. Eclipse is a great IDE. But it’s still not what i’m use too and essential parts like debugging just isn’t nearly as smooth.

Coming back to predictions for monday:

For some time Compact Framework developers were looking forward to Silverlight for Mobile as the thing to finally bring decent graphics capabilities to Windows Mobile. The official website still has it down for a 2009 release. Combine that with rumors of a break in backwards compatibility, this is what i think is going to happen:

Compact Framework will be replaced by Silverlight for Mobile

Silverlight already contains a portable and optimized CLR. Add to that mobile API’s like Status and Notification and I think thats pretty much it (and how sweet it would be!). On top of that, I think it’s almost certain that game development will be in the form of XNA Game Studio, as with the Zune HD.

Hopefully Microsoft will fulfill these predictions or at least provide something similar on monday. Please. We’ve waited so patiently, for so long.

Oh well.. ..guess it’ll be another month, while we wait for MIX.

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