The Windows Phone 8 SDK has arrived
At the Build developer conference that started at Microsoft's Redmond campus on Tuesday, the software company has released its Windows Phone 8 Developer Platform to the general public. Microsoft's release encompasses a newly designed developer web page as well as an SDK that is available to download.
From a developer's perspective, the biggest change in Windows Phone 8 over its predecessor is probably that the new smartphone operating system's kernel shares a major part of its code with Windows 8. In his part of the Build keynote, Microsoft executive Kevin Gallo pointed out that this enables developers to create apps for the new Touch user interface of Windows 8 and for Windows Phone 8, which share the majority of their source code. The new SDK is the first to allow smartphone apps for Microsoft's platform to be programmed in C++; this provides a relatively simple way of porting existing code for desktop applications to the mobile world.
C++ is also the games developers' programming language of choice: they can now directly access the 3D features of DirectX 11. The XNA library, which used to be a preferred component for smartphone and Xbox games, is no longer supported. Microsoft has announced that various cross-platform libraries and development systems will be available under Windows Phone 8 instead, for example Unity, which is very popular among game programmers.
Developers can now submit Windows Phone 8 apps for release in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Those who haven't yet done any development work for Microsoft's smartphone operating system but are thinking about doing so in the near future should make sure that they join the Developer Center soon: apparently, registration during the coming eight days will cost just $8 per year instead of the usual $99.