Windows Phone 7 is HERE ! [ www.WindowsPhone.com ]

Read about it at Engadget!

Read about it at Gizmodo !

Get the Developer Story HERE !

Windows Phone 7 will be first hitting retail stores on October 21 in Europe and Asia, and November 8 in the Americas.

People will be able to buy Windows Phone 7 in a variety of styles from Samsung, LG, HTC, and Dell, on networks including AT&T, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, and more.

Take a look at all the exciting phones that will be coming out this holiday season.

But WHY SHOULD WE DEVELOP for Windows Phone 7 ???

Well, I’ll tell you what I think.

It’s a natural question to ask. Do we REALLY need (or even want) another phone platform?

I think YES !

We have the iPhone and Android which have become popular “mobile application platforms” and a couple of second tier platforms like the Blackberry.

So WHY Windows Phone 7 ?

1.) .NET, Visual Studio, Silverlight

For “Client” applications, that is applications run by the “end user” on the “desktop”, Visual Studio is THE tool and .NET is THE platform. There are millions of developers already using Visual Studio and building .NET applications.

The Windows Phone 7 Development model is Visual Studio (C# or VB), Silverlight, XNA, etc. That means the tool, language, and framework is already familiar to millions. And if you’ve already been doing Silverlight (or other XAML based UI work) you’re another step ahead of the learning curve.

For someone who wanted to get started building iPhone applications you COULD buy a MAC and learn Objective-C, and the iPhone SDK. (And yes I know there are ways to hack your way through building iPhone apps on Windows of Linux but they are hardly 1st class experiences.)

I believe there is GREAT strength in building apps using technologies with which you have already invested in developing expertise, but even if you are new to Visual Studio and .NET, Windows Phone 7 may be the right choice for you.

Proper design and developer techniques can allow you to use ONE set of tools and technologies to build your applications with parts that run on Windows Server, Windows Desktop, and Windows Phone.

This is really important for commercial efforts since mobile apps have rapidly become an important, or even necessary extension to a company’s all up business offerings. These days, few applications are truly stand alone. (With the possible exception of entertainment apps.)

Existing companies can extend their existing application to Phone Devices with the same technologies they use to build the rest of their application portfolio.

New efforts can be designed and built with synergies that INTEGRATE the  Phone, Server, and Windows Desktop.

Either way, Visual Studio is (at least in the opinion of MANY developers) the most productive development tool available today.

2.) Microsoft Office, SharePont, Exchange, etc.

The majority of businesses, from small to huge, run their daily operations on some combination of Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange.

Since Windows Phone 7 applications are built on .NET, Windows Phone 7 development offers amazing opportunities to extend their day to day business operations with Phone based applications.

Though for some reason we tend to think of phone applications as consumer applications (the .99c Twitter Client) there is a HUGE opportunity for custom/internal applications that extend and enhance employee productivity and for customer facing applications that improve the quality and value of a customer’s overall experience 

3.) Windows

Though some of my Open Source friends will hate me for saying this, Microsoft Windows is still, by a HUGE margin, the desktop Operating System of choice and it seems certain to continue to be so far as far into the future as the technical fortune tellers can “see”.

Being .NET based provides some obvious potential to leverage the relationship between the Phone Application and the users desktop as well as application that run on the user’s desktop. Since Microsoft makes Windows, there are even greater future opportunities for creating Windows extensions or even building certain extensions and support for Windows Phone into future versions of the Windows Operating System. 

There can be great synergies to single vendor offerings. “Better Together” !

4.) XBox / XNA

Any way you measure it the Xbox has been a huge success. One of the Development models for Windows Phone 7 development will be XNA, the same model used for developing Xbox applications. Not only does this mean that there are thousands of developers building Xbox games that already have the skills to build Windows Phone applications, it will make it easy to get many of the existing Xbox apps / games to the Windows Phone 7  which is cool for us as consumers and cool for developers who now have a much wider potential customer base.

I also this there is an interesting opportunity for creating games / applications who’s experience spans both devices.

5.) App Store

There is a huge opportunity to service both developers and customers with a GREAT APPLICATION STORE.

Not that the app stores for other phone platforms have not been successful, they have, but clearly there is much room for improvement. 

Sometimes, not being first to a space is an advantage because one has the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others.

How Microsoft improves on the App Store model will only be proved in practice, but there is real opportunity there.

What’s more, the opportunity to drive adoption for the Windows Phone applications that people build is theoretically much larger because the Microsoft ecosystem is so much larger.