Getting Started with Windows Phone Developer Tools

The Windows Phone 7 platform may be relatively new to the app scene, but that does not mean it is lacking in terms of its app population. One reason why so many apps have been churned out in so little time is that developing for the Windows Phone 7 platform is not seen as overly complex. A huge aid to this user-friendly development distinction is Microsoft’s Windows Phone Developer Tools. This kit comes loaded with plenty of powerful tools to help make the app development process a smooth one. The following tutorial will explain what you need to get started developing your own apps for Windows mobile phones.

System Requirements

Before you begin installing the Windows Phone Developer Tools, there are some system requirements to consider. 

In terms of operating systems, all editions of Windows 7 (x86 and x64) are supported except the Starter Edition.  All editions of Windows Vista (x86 and x64) with Service Pack 2 are also supported, with the exception of the Starter Edition.

Your hardware requirements include 3GB of free hard disk space for installation.  You will need 2GB of RAM, and you must have a DirectX 10 or later graphics card with WDDM 1.1 driver.

Platforms not supported for use with Windows Phone Developer Tools include Windows XP, Windows Server, Virtual PC, and Hyper-V.

Installing Components

Once you have read over the system requirements and are certain that you meet them, you can begin downloading the necessary tools to help you develop apps for Windows Phone 7.  To get the bevy of tools that are encompassed within the Windows Phone Developer Tools software, you will need to perform three separate installations.  Remember to execute these three steps in the order they are listed.

1. Download and install the Windows Phone Developer Tools by visiting this link:  As with the following steps, download and installation is rather simple and you will be guided on a step-by-step basis during the process.  If you have already downloaded a previous version of Windows Phone Developer Tools, you will need to uninstall it before installing the latest version.  As a side note, you have the option to download the Windows Phone Developer Tools in four different languages other than English: French, German, Italian, and Spanish.  These localized languages will only be supported by the corresponding languages of the operating system.  Also, you cannot have two different localized versions of Windows Phone Developer Tools installed on the same computer.  If you want to change the localized version, you will have to uninstall the existing version first. 

2. Download and install the windows Phone Developer Tools January 2011 Update by visiting this link:  Remember to only apply this update after you have properly downloaded and installed the Windows Phone Developer Tools as described in step 1.  Installing the update may take some time, so be patient.  Once the installation is complete, the install dialog box will close.  This January 2011 update contains several upgrades, including improvements within the copy/paste functionality within the Windows Phone Emulator and more.  Improvements from the previous October 2010 Update are also included, such as the Windows Phone Connect Tool and Bing Maps for Windows Phone Silverlight Control, among others. 

3. Download and install the Windows Phone Developer Tools Fix by visiting this link:  This is your final step in obtaining the necessary tools to begin the app developmental process.  The fix contains an upgrade that allows developers to enjoy improved testing and debugging via the deployment of XAP files exceeding 64MB in size to actual physical phone devices.

Now that you have completed the preceding three steps, you should notice plenty of new software  on your computer.  Of course, each piece of software will fill different roles, but when combined, you should have a powerful platform on which you can begin developing Windows Phone 7 applications.  Heading over to your Start menu and looking at your programs, you should see some names such as Microsoft Expression, Microsoft Silverlight, and Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express.  Other powerful tools included in the kit are the Windows Phone Emulator and XNA Game Studio 4.0.

Speaking of XNA Game Studio 4.0, let’s break down what type of developer it may appeal to.  XNA Game Studio 4.0 gives developers some of the tools necessary to create games not only for Windows Phone 7, but also for Windows and Xbox LIVE Indie games.  Now, if you don’t have much of an interest in developing games and prefer more traditional apps, Microsoft Silverlight will come in handy.  Both of these features can be reached by accessing Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone via your Start menu.

When it comes to deploying and debugging your application, you can do so to a physical Windows Phone device or by using the Windows Phone Emulator.  The emulator, as mentioned earlier, is included with the Windows Phone Developer Tools.  If you want to deploy and debug on an actual Windows Phone 7 device, you will have to download and install the Zune client software.  You will also need to use the included Windows Phone Registration Tool to register the device before you can begin the deployment and debugging processes.

That concludes this overview on how to get started with the Windows Phone Developer Tools.  Make sure to download and install the kit as described.  In just a little bit of time you can be on your way to creating your very own applications for Windows Phone 7 that can be shared with the rest of the world.

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