The Excitement is in the Air

The last few weeks have seen some pretty exciting announcements from Microsoft. There has been a lot of buzz in the development community about what Microsoft might announce at the upcoming PDC 2010 conference. PDC is always an exciting event. I’m sure this year will be no exception! The pre-PDC buzz aside, I think one of the most exciting recent announcements was the unveiling of the much-anticipated, much hyped Windows Phone 7.

I’m not going to spend time talking about the problems with the previous generation of Windows Mobile devices. I prefer to be positive and focus on the possibilities the future holds for us with Windows Phone 7. I’ve been reading many of the reviews, watching videos, reading articles on how to develop for Windows Phone 7, and talking to other developers about developing for this new platform. I must say, I’m genuinely geeked up about writing an app for a (hopefully soon-to-be-mine) Windows Phone 7 device. Personally, I currently use an iPhone. I really like it too. But, after seeing some buddies of mine write applications for the iPhone, I quickly lost all desire to do so myself. There were just too many things about the experience that I did not like. I know others that love developing for iPhone – congrats to them. For me, I’m a Microsoft guy. I do love Visual Studio. With Windows Phone 7, I get to develop applications using Visual Studio. There doesn’t appear to be a ton of new stuff I need to learn, as Windows Phone 7 applications leverage Silverlight and XNA. I already know a little Silverlight and I work with Visual Studio and .NET every day. Fantastic! I think the learning curve to develop an application (ok, probably a simple “Hello, phone!” app at first . . . gimmie some time people!) will be minimal.

Furthermore, if you have talked to me at all during the last couple of years, you know that I pretty much don’t shut up about Windows Azure. I just love the platform and really believe in the direction and vision for Windows Azure. I think the features available in Windows Phone 7 are really going to showcase some of the truly cool things that can be done with Windows Azure. Windows Azure is a cloud computing offering, and as such, it is accessible from pretty much anywhere there is an internet connection. Windows Azure’s APIs are accessible via a friendly REST-based interface. Data storage (tables, blobs, and queues) within Windows Azure is available via REST-based interfaces too. My (again, hopefully soon-to-be) Windows Phone 7 device can easily “talk” REST, and thus can easily get access to the features and data available via Windows Azure. Just think – your little Windows Phone 7 application could go crazy on Twitter and suddenly 100,000 people in the U.S. download your app and start using it. The tweet-osphere continues to go crazy and your app goes global! Cha-ching!!! Now you have hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of people using your little app. Can your little server under your desk handle that type of load? What about the servers and infrastructure provided in the $9.99/month hosting company you use? Not likely. But, if you deploy the backend for your application on Windows Azure, you have the global scalability provided by the Windows Azure platform. You can spin up new instances of your service within minutes. You could leverage the Azure CDN to quickly distribute pictures and other content to your Windows Phone 7 consumers. Oh . . . . . I’m getting excited just thinking about this!

Wheew . . .ok . . . back to Earth. This year’s PDC is going to be another great event I’m sure. I’m excited to see what Microsoft might announce in support of Windows Phone 7. I’m really excited to see what Microsoft has up their sleeves for Windows Azure. Will there be new (re)visions of .NET and/or WCF? Will Microsoft announce details on future plans for Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008? Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to make it to Redmond to see PDC in person this year. I’ll be watching the event online from http://www.microsoftpdc.com/.

One more Windows Phone 7 nugget – if you want to learn more about developing for Windows Phone 7, I would encourage you to follow Jeff Blankenburg’s “31 Days of Windows Phone 7” blog series. Jeff is a Microsoft Developer Evangelist and is really jazzed about the development opportunities for Windows Phone 7.

To wrap this up, I think there is a lot of really exciting technology out there for us to use. With Windows Phone 7 and Windows Azure there is a great deal of opportunity to develop rich, exciting, robust, and innovating applications. The tools are there to make the process fairly easy. My suggestion – go grab a 2 litter of Mt. Dew, a bag of Doritos, your trusty laptop (and some handy wet wipes . . . cause Doritos on your keyboard is uncool), and crank out a Windows Phone 7 app that in some way leverages/consumes data from Windows Azure. I think you find the experience pretty exciting!

Update: This entry is now cross-posted to my employer’s blog.  Check out some more cool postings there!

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