Windows Phone, updated in Windows Phone 7.5, presents an exciting opportunity for developers to
build and monetize mobile applications. It represents a major new investment into mobile computing
by Microsoft, and in many ways is a major break from the past. To build applications for Windows
Phone, it is important to understand its target consumer audience and design philosophy.
Up until roughly 2007, Windows Mobile was a growing, well-received platform targeting primarily
enterprise users. Windows Mobile was taking share from competitors such as Palm and going head-tohead
with RIM Blackberry, but overall it was considered fairly successful. The release of the iPhone and
its consumer focus and applications store it turned the mobile device market on its head, and was a
major wake-up call for Microsoft. Tack on the surge by Google’s Android operating system, and the
Smartphone market became hyper-competitive.
Windows Phone represents a sea change in approach by Microsoft toward mobile computing.
Although Windows Mobile 6.x and earlier resembles a miniaturized version of desktop Windows, with its
iconic Start screen, Windows Phone is very different with a user interface that is more similar to the
ZuneHD interface – on steroids.
When the ZuneHD was introduced, it received positive feedback from critics, but it wasn’t highly
marketed toward consumers. It also did not have a third-party application Marketplace. Still, it was an
opportunity for Microsoft to try out new mobile computing concepts on a mass audience of a few
Learning from its own stumbles, taking what works from Zune, and then looking at the existing
mobile landscape, Microsoft came up with Windows Phone with a dramatically different user experience
from Windows Mobile, a new mobile development paradigm, and a completely different approach in
With Windows Phone, Microsoft makes the end-user consumer the top priority, whereas in the past,
with Windows Mobile, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) was Microsoft’s primary customer.
This does not mean that Microsoft is OEMing the device directly. Instead, Microsoft spec’d out the
hardware and software for the platform such that OEMs can take that specification as a basis for further
innovation. OEMs can build devices with or without a keyboard, or with slightly different physical sizes,
different screen types, and additional features like a camera and more storage, to name a few options.
Windows Phone devised have an 800 • 480 screen resolution, the exact same user interface and APIs,
and the same range of sensors no matter what the OEM or Mobile Operator. This means that developers
can build an application and be confident that it will run on all available devices.