The First Windows Phone 7 User Group

On Wednesday (28th), I attended the first Windows Phone 7 User Group meeting set up by Matt Lacey and Michelle Flynn of EMC Consulting. It was well organised and a big thank you for the event, drinks and doughnuts!

The event started off with a great introduction to XNA by Rob Fonseca-Ensor, then five demonstrations of upcoming applications (shown below) with an xbox up for grabs. It was really interesting to see the apps people were working on and the positive reactions developers had to the tools they were working with. The calibre of the apps I saw showed that the Marketplace certainly has the potential to harbour many great applications. Finally, Paul Foster from Microsoft gave an informative talk on how the Marketplace will work.

I have previously blogged about some of the information on Marketplace (From Jump Start, Documents and early Marketplace post).

A few questions came up such as whether or not the UI had to adhere to the ‘Metro’ look. The answer to this was no and no application will be rejected from the Marketplace solely because it doesn’t use the Metro UI. Questions on tax also came up, and it is important to make sure you fill out the right forms to ensure you don’t pay any unnecessary tax. If you’re an individual trader, then you will want to read about the ITIN number and if you’re a company, you should read about EIN numbers (don’t forget, I’m not an accountant, so I can’t give any advice regarding your taxes :)). However, you should visit and read the documents there for a full overview on where you stand based on your country and the country’s status regarding tax treaties.

It was clear to see that Microsoft have been paying attention to the state of Apple’s App Store and Android Market. Obivously the former is being flooded with shovelware and has  inconsistent, sometimes inexplicable, approval processes and the latter simply being flooded with shovelware. As a means to try and minimise this happening to the Marketplace, there are various actions MS have taken. Firstly, they have tried to make the approval process as transparent as possible and you can download the guidelines to make sure your application doesn’t break any rules. There are standard rules in place such as violence and gore should be kept to a Teen rating and pornography is not allowed. Secondly, developers can only release 5 free applications per their $99 yearly contract. If they wish to add more, there’s a $20 fee per free app. However, developers can release an unlimited number of paid applications per yearly contract. This “5 free apps” rule is most likely a resultant of the shovelware seen in other app stores and marketplaces and so MS are hoping that the apps coming through are of a certain quality. As they say, it’s all about quality over quantity and for that reason, I believe stats about how many apps are available on a certain platform has a limited value in drawing a picture of the platform’s status. On one extreme, no apps means that obviously there’s a reason no one’s developing for the platform, but on the other hand too many apps and most start to become useless, duplicates or obstacles when it comes to finding a decent app.

All apps must be downloaded through the Marketplace and side-loading is not available (on non-developer devices). On the surface this may seem like a bad thing, but there are valid reasons for this. From a developer perspective, MS are able to provide extremely useful features such as checking whether or not an application is in trial mode or unlocked. It also means that all WP7 applications can be found in one place instead of being scattered across various sites and resources. This, in a way, can help standardise application ratings and you can get a better idea of which apps are generally considered good and which are bad. By ensuring the application goes through Microsoft’s approval process, it also means that there can be a certain standard of quality coming through.

As mentioned before, there were 5 presentations given and Jon Sharratt was kind enough to record and upload videos of each presentation.  (You can see 4 of them below, in the same order they were demonstrated in):

Dave HawesSkillBook (official site)

Hosain – London Tube Application

Some random guy who goes by the name ‘keyboardP’ got past security 🙂 – ICE Alert (updated version of my ICE application)

TreehouseDevCryoDefense (official site)

Mike Hole demonstrated his path-finding application. Unfortunately, there’s no video up yet, but I’ll update this post once I find it. However, Mike has posted a blog about the event here.

Thanks again to everyone who organised it Matt Lacey, Michelle Flynn and EMC consulting, the speakers Rob Fonseca-Ensor and Paul Foster and everyone who attended making it what it was. I certainly look forward to attending future events (and recommend it to anyone who’s interested in WP7 development). Follow @wpug for information about future events (and general WP7 news).




3 Responses to The First Windows Phone 7 User Group

  1. Ian Walker says:

    Great stuff, couldn’t make it this time due to family commitments but hope to attend in the future!

  2. Charlie says:

    Nice! A User Group for Win Phone baby! I found this last night while on my web troll and thought it was pretty cool — a bunch of how to videos on how to create stuff on the Win Phone platform.

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