Microsoft readying 'thousands' of Windows 7 phones
Developers will finally be able to test out their Windows Phone 7 apps on real hardware from next month, though Microsoft says not everyone will get one.
Microsoft is to send out "many thousands" of pre-release Windows Phone 7 handsets to developers ahead of the mobile operating system's launch later this year.
Until now developers looking to write software for Windows Phone 7 had to rely on a software emulator to test their programs, but starting next month, they will be able to get their hands on actual devices running the OS.
Microsoft admits it doesn't have enough handsets for all developers, but insists it won't just be catering to the major software players either.
"We are still in the process of putting the final touches to each of our programs which will enable developers to get devices, so the only thing I can ask is to be patient," Windows Phone 7 team member Brandon Watson said in a blog post. "Orchestrating this sort of thing is quite challenging, but I can say this: we are putting devices in hands starting next month.
"We will be doing so for a broad range of developers... not just big (software makers). Individual developers with great ideas are just as important. Active folks on this forum are the very people we need to get phones to."
It remains unclear as to exactly who will be getting priority in the process, with Watson saying that "eligibility will be determined on a case-by-case through Microsoft's Windows Phone and Developer Evangelist organisations. We'll provide more details about device sharing over the coming weeks."
First priority is expected to be given to developers who have already become involved in the Silverlight rich media and .Net software platforms, and are already using Windows Phone 7 tools on the PC.
Either way, the handsets being sent out from next month will not be final build quality, and are simply meant for testing and being ready for Windows Phone 7 Marketplace's launch later in the year.
In addition to software developers, Microsoft is also working to ensure carriers can start testing devices in the weeks to come to make sure a wide range of Windows Phone 7 handsets can go on sale to consumers by the holiday season.
Full unlocked Windows Phone 7 devices will be made available for developers to purchase immediately after the operating system's official launch in the autumn, which is also when the first consumer devices are being tipped to appear, built by HTC and LG.
Watson said he appreciated the interest from developers in the new operating system.
"It makes my day to see so many of you clamouring for devices, and talking about the awesome apps you want to build," he wrote. "Believe me, I want nothing more than to put a device into each of your hands. Without passionate developers like you, we will fail."
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