Windows 7 and the Mobile Environment

While Windows 7 has received critical acclaim on the desktop, its mobile counterpart, Windows Phone 7 has received very little media coverage. This is understandably so because the release of the new operating system is somewhat vague when they describe it with terms like “this year’s holiday season”, or “the last quarter”.  In the 2010 TechEd Conference which was held at New Orleans, more than 6,000 developers and IT professionals attended the event. The focus of the event was on the Windows Azure platform which is really Microsoft’s foray into cloud computing. While nothing concrete was discussed on Windows Phone 7 as an operating system, the software company discussed how the mobile Operating System incorporates into cloud computing, and how the Windows Phone Marketplace will be used to browse, purchase and download mobile phone applications.

While Windows Phone 7 is designed to provide an intuitive and rich mobile computing experience targeted to the casual consumer, its tight integration to corporate applications like SharePoint and Exchange is hoped to attract the corporate market as well.

Other applications that will find their way into the mobile version of Windows 7 include Microsoft Office. Special software will be included so that mobile users will have a seamless way of communicating to the corporate office. Examples of such include Exchange in-box, and a client application that makes it possible to connect to SharePoint Server. There is no need for a web based app to access SharePoint, instead SharePoint Workgroup Client is the equivalent to a desktop application and this will circumvent the vulnerabilities common to most web based applications.

Increased security is another thing that users will find in Windows Phone 7. For one, Internet Explorer for the mobile OS will not execute code other than web markups. There will also be strengthened security for email such as SSL, as well as passwords and PINs. Applications for the mobile app will be forged using managed code which will make it possible for the operating system to sandbox instances of running programs, thus isolating them from other parts of the OS. For the run of the mill apps, the code will run on Microsoft Silverlight while games will exist on Microsoft XNA Studio. Both frameworks are already widely used in non-mobile development such as in desktops and laptops. Microsoft hopes that these developers will soon start developing apps for the phone using the same techniques.

Microsoft has been observing how Apple makes apps for the iPhone available to buyers via the AppStore. A similar model is proposed for Windows Phone 7 applications and the online store will be called the Windows Phone Marketplace.

The virtual store will be the place where developers can upload apps for purchasing. There will be client software in the mobile OS that will be tightly integrated with the online marketplace. Users will just have to flick the touchscreen to access the virtual store. Before any app is made available for display in the online store, Microsoft staff will test the software and have it certified. What happens behind the scenes is that the software is loaded into an actual Windows Phone 7 device and tested to determine how the app behaves under a range of conditions. Apps that fail the tests are not rejected outright. The concerned developer will be contacted in order to review and correct problematic code. Developers will also keep 70 percent of the revenue.

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