Windows Phone Preview for Devs Launched
Microsoft has reversed an earlier decision and will now give Windows Phone developers earlier access to operating system updates so that app upgrades can be ready to go when new versions are released.
The new program was announced by Microsoft's Cliff Simpkins on the Windows Phone Developer Blog on Monday. Starting with Windows Phone 8, Update 3, developers won't have to wait until after the update is available to tune their applications for the new OS. They will need to sign up on the Windows Phone Preview for Developers page. Only registered developers and those with "developer unlocked" phones are eligible.
The Windows Phone Preview for Developers is itself a Windows Phone Store app, which allows developers to opt in to receive updates. Once installed, Simpkins has a few warnings for developers. First is that the update is only the Microsoft portion of the update, and doesn't include device-specific firmware and drivers. Second, there is no way to roll an app back to earlier updates or releases once the update is publicly released, so developers need to make sure that the app is fully tested. Finally, installing a preview update may void the device's warranty, so developers should check with the device manufacturer prior to joining the program to see what implications this may have.
Note that the Windows Phone 8 Update 3 emulator images aren't yet available. According to Simpkins, Microsoft expects them to be ready for download within the next three weeks.
Based on comments following the blog, developers are happy about the change. "Tricsio" wrote that the Preview "Makes total sense. This will allow devs to be ahead of the game."
"StevieBallz" said "Happy to see the preview capability again. It was great to test before GA release with WP7.5 and I really missed that opportunity with the last two WP8 updates."
"Thank you for finally offering this "early-adopter" program to us! It's been a long time coming, but I'm thrilled to be a part of it," wrote "GoodThings2Life".
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.