Windows Phone 7 Developers Get Hands on 'Mango' Beta

Both a new software development kit (SDK) beta and "Mango" beta were released yesterday for Windows Phone 7 developers.

Developers who are registered to work on Windows Phone 7 at the Microsoft Connect site or via the MSDN App Hub can now start getting the Mango beta, but it could take a couple of weeks to arrive for some, according to Microsoft. The new Windows Phone SDK 7.1 beta 2 can be downloaded now at this page.

Developers can install the Mango beta on one retail phone to test their application builds. However, a Microsoft blog post by Brandon Watson, senior director for Windows Phone, cautions that installing the Mango update to a phone requires following specific steps. Failure to follow those steps can result in the phone getting "bricked."

The device destined to receive the Mango beta should be reserved for testing. Users should take preparations to be able to roll back the device to an earlier operating system image if they want to continue to get future Windows 7 Phone updates on that device, Watson explained in response to a question on the blog.

Microsoft had released the Mango beta first to reviewers before giving it out to the general developer pool. The reason the company did that was to get its messaging right to consumers, Watson explained in the blog.

An SDK beta 1 got released by Microsoft back in May, but Mango testers should use the new beta 2 version. Running the Windows Phone SDK 7.1 beta 2 does not require having Visual Studio installed because Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone gets installed with the SDK. However, users should uninstall the Windows Phone Developer Tools 7.1 beta 1 first before installing the beta 2 SDK, according to Microsoft's release notes.

Microsoft packed a lot of new features into Windows Phone SDK 7.1 beta 2. A full list of those features can be found here. A Microsoft Silverlight SDK blog post described the SDK beta 2 highlights as additions to the isolated storage explorer, as well as improvements to the profiler and emulator. Those building ring-tone apps for Mango-based phones can get the specs here.

Microsoft also updated an SDK that supports building advertisements into Windows Phone applications. Microsoft released a new Advertising SDK for Windows Phone June update this week that includes improved APIs for Silverlight and XNA ad controls, among other features. The ads get served up via Microsoft's mobile ad exchange, which the company describes as "the first real-time bidded ad Exchange for mobile." This Advertising SDK includes the Microsoft pubCenter solution, which delivers reports on the performance of ads within an application.

The finalized Mango update to Windows Phone 7 is expected to be released sometime in the fall of this year, according to Microsoft. However, this release-to-manufacturers version will be subject to testing by Microsoft's device and mobile service provider partners before general release to consumers. Because of that testing process, consumers will tend to get updates to their Windows phones in a month's time, or longer, after Microsoft announces the release.

The Mango update is expected to bring improvements such as use of the Internet Explorer 9 Mobile Web browser, plus access to Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud-based storage resource, on Windows Phone 7-based devices. Twitter integration will also arrive with Mango.

"IE9 Mobile," which is Microsoft's new name for IE 9 on Windows Phone 7, will be capable of tapping into the device's hardware acceleration resources. This capability can be leveraged to run HTML 5-based graphics and video. Microsoft has already built a demo page for IE9 Mobile showing those capabilities.

Those experiencing troubles with the Mango beta and the new SDK beta can get help from Microsoft at this App Hub forum space.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.