What’s Up at Mix: Silverlight And Windows Phone 7 Series

MIX 10 Well, I’m #notatmix, but luckily with the live Silverlight streaming, what happens in Vegas is definitely not staying in Vegas, as least as far as MIX 10 is concerned.  If you didn’t have a chance to catch Scott Guthrie’s opening keynote live, it’s available for replay (as will be the individual session content as well – within 24 hours)


Silverlight Scott’s focus was Silverlight, which he announced is now available on 60% of internet connected computers after only two years, due in great part to compelling experiences such as the 2010 Winter Olympics and the upcoming NCAA March Madness.

And the Silverlight train isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Silverlight 4 beta introduced webcam and microphone support, mulitcast streaming, and more is coming with the incorporation of a Silverlight control supporting Pivot, an awesome interactive data visualization technology from Microsoft Live Labs.  Scott also made some significant product announcements:

Silverlight RC is available now, with final release scheduled for next month, and

Expression Blend 4 (currently in beta) will be available as a free upgrade for Expression Blend 3 users

eBay Simple ListerIt was also fun to see my former Sybase colleague, Dave Wolf from Cynergy Systems explaining how they used Microsoft tools - Blend with Sketchflow, Visual Studio 2010 and Silverlight 4 – to build the eBay Simple Lister service in just 8 weeks!

Joe Belfiore, Corporate VP for Windows Phone, demonstrated the Window Phone 7 Series experience, covering the various hubs which were unveiled at the Mobile World Congress last month in Barcelona, but quickly moving beyond that to demonstrate the power of Silverlight on the mobile device and how third-party vendors can enhance the experience with their own extensions.  

Windows Phone Scott demoed the Silverlight development experience for Windows Phone from the perspective of Visual Studio by building (what else) a Twitter phone application.  It’s the same programming model – Silverlight, not Silverlight light or Silverlight ‘different’ – using the same tools, Visual Studio (and Blend).  There’s built-in emulator support via a virtual machine that is running the Windows Phone 7 Series OS, so you can truly develop without the device.  And if you’ve got a touch-enabled Windows 7 machine, you can use the touch-interface directly with the emulator!

Scott was followed by Jon Harris demonstrating a design-oriented creation experience using Expression Blend 4 for Windows Phone to create a nifty PhotoDiary application – complete with the emulator experience in Blend as well.  I’m still amazed at (and intimidated by) what Blend can do, but once you master it, you’ve mastered it across the spectrum of desktop, laptop, and Windows Phone!

Even though today was the official launch of the developer tools, which by the way are and always will be FREE, it’s clear a number of partners have already been busy creating compelling and immersive experiences on the device:

  • Scott Stanfield, from Vertigo, demonstrated NetFlix on the device, which really isn’t all that surprising, since every Windows Phone 7 Series is also a Zune!
  • Mike Swanson showed how Graphic.ly, a BizSpark One partner, had integrated Deep Zoom into the Silverlight mobile experience via their graphic novel and comic book viewer.
  • Windows Phone 7 SeriesLaura Foy, a Microsoft Technical Evangelist and Channel 9 personality, showed how FourSquare has leveraged the GPS in the device to provide a compelling experience for the up-and-coming social media application.
  • Ever wish you knew the name or artist of that tune that was just playing?  Well, Jeff Sandquist showed how you can integrate the device’s microphone with a custom application to search Shazam.  The song plays; Shazam figures it out; and now your device shows how you can get the song and presents you a discography for the artist, upcoming tour dates, and a hook into the Zune marketplace.
  • Charlie Kindel showed how you can easily leverage push notification support whereby your applications can subscribe to events and provide ‘toast’ when something of interest has occurred – even when the application isn’t running.
  • Rounding out the series of fast-paced demos, Scott demoed accelerometer integration with a gratuitous, but funny (and career-limiting?) Steve Ballmer ragdoll application!

The overarching message here was that there are a vast number of options for custom applications to dive in and add enhanced, rich experiences for the end-user, building off of the hub model central to the Windows Phone 7 Series.  Loic Le Meur, rounded that message out demonstrating the business value of their application Seesmic, which is no longer just a Twitter app, but has been extended to incoporate plugins for Facebook, LinkedIn, Bing Maps and more.


XNASilverlight isn’t the only UX for the Windows 7 Phone Series though; Joe Belfiore made that clear  by playing a Windows Xbox live game, leveraging XNA, right on the device!

As Larry Hyrb, better known as “Major Nelson,” explained, with XNA Game Studio 4.0 (which again is a free offering from Microsoft) you’ll be able to build games for the PC, Xbox, and Windows Phone 7 Series.  Games running on the Windows Phone will have full Xbox Live integration, so you’ll be able to unlock achievements, access the leader board, and add to your gamer score all from the mobile device. 


Get started developing for Window Phone now!

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