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Windows Phone 8 SDK Release Brings Native C++ and DirectX

by Jeff Martin on Oct 31, 2012 |

Tuesday at the Microsoft's Build 2012 Conference, Kevin Gallo announced the release of the Windows Phone 8 SDK. Gallo's presentation during the keynote reinforced the role WP8 is intended to play in the Windows 8 ecosystem.

Gallo emphasized that he feels that "[Windows Phone 8 is the] most personal phone on market" both through its software and hardware. The goal is for each user's phone experience to be "as unique as their fingerprint”. This is a specific point of distinction to the approach taken by Apple's iPhone, where all users use a standardized handset.

Some of the few features of Windows Phone 8 highlighted include:

  • Kids Corner – sandboxes the phone for kids so that they can only access games, music, videos, or applications that the owner specifies
  • Hyper-V based Windows Phone emulator – this supports 3 screen sizes and multiple phone memory capacities (1 GB and 512 MB). This SDK includes the emulators found in SDK 7.1 for backward compatibility

Gallo highlighted the following new features found in the WP8 SDK:

  1. Easier to build Fast and fluid UI
  2. Live Tiles, Lock Screen, and Wallpaper
  3. Speech – launch and control apps with Speech
  4. Improved Dev Center and Store
  5. Deeper integration with Phone Experiences (opened up access to the camera)
  6. Better multi-tasking
  7. Advanced networking: Bluetooth data transfer, peer networking, proximity connect
  8. Delivered 90% of the top developer requests

One of the developer requests that was heeded was the inclusion of the WinSock library as an option for low-level access to TCP/IP networking (interestingly this library is not available on Windows 8). WP8 supports DirectX through feature level 9.3. The SDK's new XAML profiler can provide information on battery, network, and overall responsiveness to improve development.

Overview of Windows Phone 8 APIs (source Microsoft), which shows the three API models available and supported by the SDK:

Windows Phone 8 API (Courtesy Microsoft)

Microsoft's Sam George spoke about the improvements to app monetizing:

  • In-app purchasing
  • Consumables
  • Durables

Consumables are defined as purchasing things like in-game poker chips or gold, while durables includes things like new game levels or expansion packs.  Developers have expanded payment choices available when it comes to monetizing their application, including mobile operator billing, international credit cards, and PayPal.  The new SDK also supports, "7.X light up" which refers to the option to allow your app to target phones running Windows Phone 7.X.  

In conjunction with this release Microsoft is discounting the price of its Individual Developer account to $8 in an effort to increase adoption among developers.

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